Caste quotas and formal inclusion in Indian higher education

Authored by: Satish Deshpande

The Routledge Handbook of Education in India

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367466770
eBook ISBN: 9781003030362
Adobe ISBN:


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Both Dr Ambedkar’s famous question and his succinct description of the Indian society that precedes it remain as relevant today as they were 64 years ago. 2 No one was more aware of the irony that the egalitarian Constitution he had helped draft was itself the cornerstone of the ‘life of contradiction’. By superimposing formal equality on a highly unequal society – while guaranteeing property rights and refusing positive constraints on social capital – the Constitution actually empowered the rich and socially dominant ‘haves’. But it also offered the ‘have-nots’ something: one egalitarian principle of universal adult franchise; one established precedent of protective discrimination otherwise known as reservations; and many good intentions of a progressive kind. In essence, the history of post-Independence India is the story of the intertwined efforts to cash in on these constitutional legacies, each constrained by the other, albeit in unequal and asymmetrical ways.

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