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Abstract

Reservation is the most controversy issue in India. Reservation for the most oppressed groups was conceptualized as a policy of compensatory discrimination, as a remedial measure for contemporary handicaps faced by individuals due to historical discrimination and deep stigmatization on account of their untouchable caste status. While a caste based policy might be construed as violating ‘formal’ equality or ‘equality in law’, which implies that legally all castes should be treated equally, India needed a bridge to convert formal equality to ‘substantive’ equality or ‘equality in fact’ Affirmative action, which took the form of quotes, ensured that those subject to extreme, discrimination would be identified and provided with compensatory ‘reverse’ discrimination in their favour.

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