Affirmative Action

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Sep 20, 2022, 10:48

Affirmative action refers to policies introduced as a remedy for prior discrimination against people of a certain ethnicity, race, gender, or caste. These policies aim to eliminate discrimination and increase employment or education opportunities for historically underrepresented groups in society. Affirmative action as a concept first appeared in America in the 19th century.

Governments introduce affirmative action policies across many parts of the world to combat discrimination. Following these policies, the marginalized groups of society get a chance at equal representation.

What is Affirmative Action?

Governmental policies and practices seeking to provide equal representation in education, job, and other opportunities for historically marginalized people are referred to as affirmative action. Policies for affirmative rights of the people differ from region to region in the world. The goals of affirmative action are:

  • To help the historically marginalized communities gain access to education.
  • Bridging pay inequality.
  • Promoting diversity.
  • Redressing the past hindrances and wrongdoings against marginalized groups.

Affirmative Action in US

Affirmative action is a government-backed strategy created to help underrepresented groups gain access to opportunities. From admission into colleges, professional employment, and accessibility to services such as housing and financing, affirmative action introduces many opportunities for marginalized groups. Find more information about affirmative action in USA below:

  • The policy's principal goal was to assist in the diversification of various aspects of society.
  • In the 1960s, this strategy gained popularity in the United States to promote equitable opportunity for all members of society.
  • The affirmative action policy was created to ensure that the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which aimed to abolish discrimination, was followed through.

Early implementations of the affirmative action policy aimed to end the minorities' ongoing social segregation from organizations and opportunities. Despite legislation prohibiting prejudiced activities in the United States, there was no rapid shift in the status quo.

In recent years, campaigns to make institutions more inclusive have grown, focusing on increasing gender diversity. Newer rules also attempt to give veterans and individuals with disabilities greater access to possibilities.

Affirmative Action Implementation

Affirmative action policies can differ from region to region across the world. However, the goal of such policies is the same - to provide marginalized communities equal access to education, healthcare, jobs, etc. Here are some ways in which affirmative action policies can be implemented:

  • Grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial assistance can be used to help certain sections of society gain access to higher education.
  • Hiring methods in companies may be revamped so that diverse candidates are considered for job opportunities.
  • The government may direct companies and organizations to hire a certain number of qualified professionals of various ethnicities, genders, and cultures.
  • Institutions that fail to meet such conditions may be barred from obtaining government funding or competing for public contracts.

Affirmative Action - Pros and Cons

Affirmative action aims to provide people and groups who have traditionally been underrepresented or (in some circumstances, prohibited) from specific sections of academia, government, and the workforce with more opportunities. It also provides funds to these groups in the form of grants and scholarships.

Affirmative action policies have led to bringing opportunities for various marginalized groups around the world. However, certain groups of people believe that such policies introduce "reverse discrimination." Here are the pros and cons of affirmative action:

Advantages of Affirmative Action

One of the most obvious advantages of affirmative action measures is that they provide opportunities to those who would not otherwise have them. This includes providing educational opportunities to children who may be underserved and allowing employees who might otherwise be unable to advance in their careers to do so.

Affirmative action policy supporters argue that the endeavor must continue due to low diversity in places of power, media coverage, and insufficient recognition of disadvantaged groups' accomplishments.

Disadvantages of Affirmative Action

Opponents of affirmative action policies typically refer to these efforts as a collective failure, claiming the minor changes in the status quo despite decades of effort as proof. A major portion of the opposition is motivated by the cost of such programs and the notion that affirmative action forces people to make unjustified compromises.

According to some people, there is next to no prejudice in society, at least not in their opinion. Furthermore, they say that affirmative action causes reverse discrimination, which can lead to qualified people being disregarded in favor of less qualified candidates.

Affirmative Action Policies in India

In India, a quota system is used for affirmative action. Through this system, underrepresented people from marginalized communities get the benefit of reservation in public spheres. There are three main areas in which affirmative action policies are operative in India:

  • Admission to public education institutions
  • Appointment and promotion in government services
  • Seats in the legislature.

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FAQs on Affirmative Action

Q1. What is affirmative action?

Affirmative action is policies set in place to undo the consequence of discrimination and social segregation against certain groups of people. Affirmative action policies are introduced and enforced by the government of a country.

Q2. Where did the concept of affirmative action originate?

The concept of affirmative action originated in the USA. It was introduced to eliminate discriminatory practices against minority groups in the country. Then-President John F. Kennedy introduced affirmative action policies in 1961 in America.

Q3. What are some affirmative action policies in India?

Affirmative action policies in India protect marginalized communities and gives them equal opportunities. Some affirmative action policies in India include reservation of seats in public education institutions, appointment and promotion in government services, and seats in the legislature.

Q4. What are some affirmative action examples in the workplace?

Affirmative action in the workplace may include outreach initiatives, target recruitment, staff, management development, and staff support programs. There also need to be strict measures to ensure a safe and discrimination-free workplace.

Q5. What is the difference between a quota and an affirmative action goal?

There is no difference between a reservation quota and an affirmative action goal. Reservations or 'quotas' are affirmative measures taken in India to ensure that historically underrepresented and marginalized communities get equal opportunities.