Affirmative Action in Higher Education in India and the US: A Study in Contrasts, by Asha Gupta


The 21st century has brought new challenges and opportunities for higher education. In the wake of the transition from elitist to mass education, universities worldwide are under pressure to enhance access and equity, on the one hand, and to maintain high standards of quality and excellence, on the other. Today the notion of equity not only implies greater access to higher education, but also opportunities for progress. In recent debates on higher education, the notions of equity and access go beyond minority to diversity. Affirmative action, too, has become race-exclusive and gender-neutral. The following paper makes an attempt to understand the nuances of a caste-based reservation policy in higher education in light of recent controversies, court verdicts, a subsequent amendment to the constitution in India; and affirmative action policies, court verdicts, and alternatives to affirmative action in certain universities in the US. The objective is to bring out commonalities and contrasts between the two countries in terms of legal, political, socio-cultural, economic, and psychological perspectives.

Asha Gupta
Publication date: 
June 1, 2006
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
Gupta, A. (2006). Affirmative Action in Higher Education in India and the US: A Study in Contrasts. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.