University Student's Attitudes Towards Affirmative Action Policy: Reflections from India

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: Booth 55
Oral Presentation
Nagaraju GUNDEMEDA , University of Hyderabad, HYDERABAD, India
The structure of the Indian society is based on the practice of caste hierarchy legitimises the unequal social status and institutionalized  policy of domination and deprivation from the material and ideological resources of the state, society and economy.  Since the colonial times the demand for affirmative action policy (popularly known as reservation policy) in education based on caste is a source of ideological conflict between the upper caste and lower castes. The higher educational institutions in general and universities in India in particular have become the centres of battle ground for the advocates and opponents of reservation policy. The objective  of the paper is to evaluate the attitudes of the university students  on the policy of reservation based on gender, caste, class, tribe, religion, region and physical disability.  The sample of the study consists of 500 students from diverse academic programmes and disciplines of the University of Hyderabad in India . The survey method,  selected individual and focused group interviews have been conducted in order to map out the rationale behind supporting and opposing reservation based on ascribed and achieved identities. The opponents of reservations felt that reservation is nothing but the exclusion of the meritorious and talented students from the higher education, employment. On the other, the reservation policy gets support as a compensatory justice mechanism for the historical exclusion and multiple forms of deprivations and discriminations against the marginal groups of the Indian Society. The study also  brings the personal narratives which demonstrate how reservations enables the social mobility for the marginal caste/groups and works as disabling mechanism in the case of students from upper castes, male and normal students. Therefore, the paper brings debates and (dis) contents associated with preservation and suspension of reservation policy within the framework of public policy and development discourse.