India runs the world's oldest and one of the most comprehensive affirmative action policies in the form of reservations or quotas for its disadvantaged sections. Ever since its adaptation, this critical public policy remains the most controversial and polarising public policy that the Independent India has adopted as yet. While much of the national preoccupation over reservation have been devoted to debate its necessity and relevance in addressing exclusion and inequality, the country still seems to lack a data-based understanding of its enforcement across different domains. How earnestly state and its agencies have enforced the reservation policies? We know less about the trends of implementation in different domains and how or what percentage of population among these social groups have benefited from it. Fact is there are very few credible research studies on the issue of affirmative policies in India. This publication is an attempt to fill some of the void by compiling data on key domains of reservation policy apart from flagging crucial issues relating to linkages among the three key domains of reservations, namely, higher education, employment, and political representation.
There is a comparison of all three domains in terms of implementation of reservation policies, across different time periods (e.g., pre- and post-Mandal phases) and among different regions, that provides useful insights about these linkages. In doing so, the work throws some critical insights on the processes at work, and identifies areas for further research.