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Unformatted text preview: 40 Contemporary Issues UNIT 31 DISADVANTAGED AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION Structure 31.0 Objectives 31.1 Introduction 31.2 Justifications for Affirmative Action 31.2.1 Evidence of Continuing Discrimination 31.3 Theoretical Issues 31.4 Affirmative Action: A Global Perspective 31.4.1 Affirmative Action in India 31.4.2 Affirmative Action in Malaysia 31.4.3 Affirmative Action in Namibia and South Africa 31.4.4 Affirmative Action in the United States of America 31.4.5 Affirmative Action in France 31.5 Critique of the Concept 31.5.1 Merit Argument 31.5.2 Rights Argument 31.5.3 Efficiency Argument 31.5.4 Balkanisation Argument 31.6 Let Us Sum Up 31.7 Some Useful References 31.8 Answers to Check Your Progress Exercises 31.0 OBJECTIVES Disadvantaged groups are a part and parcel of our socio-economic and political formations in the form of race, colour, caste, gender and biological disability. Efforts have been on to assimilate these marginalised groups into the mainstream of socio-economic and political life, especially since the last half of the twentieth century. Arguments are presented both for and against affirmative action as well as providing the legal and moral rationale for the continued application of affirmative action type programmes. The word ‘merit’ is often used to discard the relevance of affirmative action as an instrument of social change. After having read this unit, the students would learn the following: • Who are the disadvantaged groups? • How has the concept of affirmative action been defined? • What is the justification for affirmative action in modern times? • What are the theoretical assumptions behind the concept? • How has the concept of affirmative action emerged in different parts of the globe? • What are the critical aspects of affirmative action? In principle, affirmative action is generally approved of as it implies that measures should be taken to ensure that all individuals are equal and to prevent or to counteract traditional and ingrained prejudicial practices by instituting positive discriminations. 41 Secularism 31.1 INTRODUCTION The current debate over affirmative action, like over all other hotly contested issues such as multiculturalism, bilingual education, immigration and the like, has become the hallmark of modern political theory. The sharp polarisation, which these theoretically debated issues tend to create, often results in a failure to see that the truth may lie somewhere in between. There is, thus, much need for an open and impartial mind on the subject. The concept of the ‘disadvantaged and the need for affirmative action’ emerged in the 1960s as a result of efforts by the Civil Rights Movement in the USA to get America to honour its original contract, that ‘all [people] are created equal.’ In addition, the Pledge of Allegiance promised ‘liberty and justice for all.’ This idealism was a promise of equal opportunity for all individuals regardless of colour, national origin, race, religion...
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- Spring '12