Affirmative Action in the United States and India: A Comparative Perspective

By Thomas E. Weisskopf | Go to book overview
Save to active project


The differing contexts of positive discrimination in the US and India

My objective in this chapter is to compare, as between the US and India, the various conditions that are most likely to influence the consequences of positive discrimination (PD) in each country In other words, I intend to compare what I described in the previous chapter as primary factor characteristics. I address first the characteristics of those under-represented ethnic groups (UREGs) that are favored by PD policies in each country, because some of the other characteristics differ not only between the two countries but also among the different groups. Then I consider, in turn, the characteristics of the PD policies themselves and the characteristics of the general societal environments. Finally, I will summarize the comparison in Table 5.1. My intention throughout is to contrast the ways in which the characteristics of these three basic factors manifest themselves in the US and in India.

Characteristics of the UREGs in each country


The beneficiaries of positive discrimination at issue here are those UREGs officially recognized as eligible for preferential selection. These are African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans in the US, and Dalits, Adivasis, and members of the "Other Backward Classes" (OBCs) in India. By definition, members of these groups share several basic characteristics. 2 First of all, they are conspicuously under-represented in desirable positions and in the upper strata of society. They also have in common a virtually inalterable group identity, based on a social construction of inherited physical and/or cultural characteristics.

UREG identity, in the US and India as elsewhere, is sometimes signaled by easily recognizable physical characteristics; thus black skin serves as an indicator of African American identity. Native Americans and Adivasis are also generally distinguishable by their physical appearance. But this is often not the case with Dalits; and it is virtually impossible to distinguish on the basis of physical characteristics alone either Hispanic Americans or those Indians officially recognized as OBCs. In the many cases where racially linked physical characteristics are not decisive, one's group identity depends on social conventions-such as the American convention that a person is considered Black or


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Affirmative Action in the United States and India: A Comparative Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 286

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?