Early last month , the Supreme Court of India upheld the 103rd Constitutional Ammendment Act, which had introduced 10% reservation for economical weaker section(EWS). The EWS quota & the court judgement that followed have shifted the decision on the legacy of affirmative action based on cast in India.
The new consensus, ostensibly rooted in universalism, comes with a claim that every individual, regardless of caste and ethnicity, should get her due in welfare entitlement. While the claim is understandable, it needs to be scrutinised with ground realities. The collective disadvantage experienced by certain groups is unique to each of them, and their specific deprivations require specific resolutions. Contemporary inequalities are not produced in one’s lifetime. The group-based differences in economic and social outcome are not due to differential ambition, ability, and effort. They are inheritances.
The caste wealth gap is not just a product of differences in education, jobs, and income but rather an inequality passed from one generation to the next. Hence, an improvement in education and access to jobs alone will not arrest this gap.The EWS quota & the court judgement that followed have shifted the decision on the legacy of affirmative action based on cast in India.