Affirmative Action for Muslims in the Indian Jurisprudential, Social, Economic and Political Context: A Constitutional Conundrum?
24 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2008 Last revised: 4 Jan 2017
Date Written: June 17, 2008
India, due to its uniquely multicultural history, has for long cherished the ideal of "Unity in Diversity", believing in the value of an egalitarian social order within a tolerant pluralistic framework. Recently, however, the controversial Sachar Committee Report has revealed the appallingly widespread social, economic and educational backwardness of the Muslim community in India: their minimal access to education, their abysmal representation in public services, and their consequent ghettoization and alienation from the national socio-economic mainstream. Affirmative Action, in various forms, including (but not limited to) Reservations, the Report suggests, is the means of addressing this socio-economic problem by enhancing diversity in the educational and public service landscape of the national mainstream.
While proponents have argued that the same will reaffirm and invigorate the egalitarian and multicultural nature of the secular Indian polity, opponents have used the same secular paradigm of the Indian Constitution to challenge the Report's proposals, on the basis that the same would be violative of the Constitutional prohibition on discrimination on the basis of religion.
With both sides using the rhetoric of the Constitutional ideal of secularism to pursue their own political ends, it becomes necessary to analyse the Report, and its proposals, not only in light of the Constitution, but also in light of the ideals on which it is based, in a non-partisan manner.
In the above context, the proposed paper seeks to explore the nebulous precincts of the constitutionality of Affirmative Action for Muslims in India.
Keywords: Affirmative Action, Constitution, Diversity, Education, India, Multiculturalism, Muslim, Public Services, Reservation
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