Nearly six decades after the Constitution of India came into effect, its proclaimed goal of equality and equal opportunity remains a distant dream.
Measures taken in furtherance of the constitutional provisions have not borne fruit primarily because those charged with the task of implementing them have not acted with due diligence.
Lately, provisions designed to help Dalits and other backward classes to catch up with the rest have come under attack on the ground that they work against the interests of the advanced sections.
The arguments against these provisions run as follows:
--The only way to create a casteless society is to adopt casteless policies.
--Reservation tends to undermine the self-esteem of the backward classes
--Support for reservation means support for procedures that favour unqualified candidates over qualified candidates.
The affirmative action policy in the United States, designed to help the non-white peoples, has also attracted similar criticism.
At the root of such criticism are bias and intolerance resulting from deep-rooted prejudice.
UnderstandingPrejudice.org, established in 2002 with funding from the National Science Foundation and McGraw-Hill Higher Education, has been offering educational resources and information on prejudice, discrimination, multiculturalism, and diversity, with a view to reducing the level of intolerance and bias in the society.
It provides more than 2,000 links to prejudice-related resources, as well as searchable databases with hundreds of prejudice researchers and social justice organizations.
One of the documents featured at the website, titled “Ten Myths About Affirmative Action”, although produced in the US context, is quite relevant in the Indian context too.