India’s reservation policy aims at redistribution of resources, which is fundamentally a political issue. There are differing opinions on who the beneficiaries of this distributive justice should be, what should be the nature of the redistribution and whether the State should take up such a programme at all. Since the quotas, at least in theory, concern all sections of society, it is no wonder that the topic is always in news and always generates a heated discussion.
Chandrachud’s book, by explaining all the key concepts related to this policy in a few short chapters, in a language that will appeal to students and politically less savvy too, intends to create a politically informed public. This is all the more necessary when the incidents of reserved category students and employees being ridiculed and harassed by the upper castes in the higher educational institutions and at workplaces respectively are so rampant.
While the book doesn’t have the thoroughness and density of Marc Galanter’s magnum opus from 1984, Competing Equalities: Law and the Backward Classes in India, the choice was most probably deliberate. The book is aimed more at general public and not academics, and serves more like a primer on the issue. Chandrachud has succeeded exceedingly in the task that was before him.