Rethinking the Reservation Policy in Contemporary India: A Local Point of View

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:20
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Kenta FUNAHASHI, Ryukoku University, Japan
The reservation system, which is an affirmative action policy, aims to ensure the right to ‘equality of opportunity’ for socially disadvantaged people in India. Since the policy was introduced in the Constitution of India, many arguments have been made regarding the policy, such as the actual effects of the policy as well as the appropriateness of criteria for entitlement categories. This presentation posits that there are both positive and negative aspects and influences of the policy. Positive aspects include social and economic elevation of the target demographic, an increased number of ‘elites’ arising among them, deeper understanding of their own rights, and activation of social movements. Conversely, the negative aspects include a widened gap between those who have the merits of the policy and those who do not, increased anti-reservation policy feelings and activities among non-entitled people, pervading jealousy of and antagonism toward the entitled people, and acts of violence against them triggered from such consciousness of the imbalance.
This presentation focuses on the issues surrounding the reservation system in contemporary India, particularly investigating situations after the enforcement of the 73rd Amendment Act in 1992, which appointed the quotas to women, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the village panchayats. The act has provided opportunity for the backward people to obtain power and influence and make positive effects on their community at the local level. At the same time, however, it has created another problem: recurring violate situations in the villages because of assertion of these rights, widened gap among entitled people and non-entitled people, and the persistent negative effects on people’s everyday lives in the village. I will deal with this case from my field study in Uttar Pradesh, and will consider and rethink the effects of the reservation system from a local point of view.