This book examines the principles underlining the policies of affirmative action evolved in two non-homogeneous and multi-ethnic societies-India and the United States. Despite the fact that the governments of India and the United States have, for over 50 years now, adopted a series of measures to overcome discrimination based on caste and race respectively, the author maintains that there is as yet no comprehensive account of the grounds on which they have been intellectually justified. He, therefore, analyses the various arguments which have been presented to justify reservations in India and affirmative action in the United States.
Addressing the key question `What is being affirmed through affirmative action?' the author seeks the answer along four lines:
- What is the religious component of such an affirmation, if any?
- Is there a moral principle (or principles) underlying this affirmation?
- Is this affirmation being advocated on ethical principles with which modern liberal thought is imbued?
- Are doctrines of human rights invoked in such an affirmation?