Affirmative! Action

Reserved! How Parliament debated Reservations 1995-2007 by Rajeev Dhavan is a recent publication from Rupa & Co. (So recent that getting information on it was quite a pain- all I have to go by is the Rupa Book News for June that arrived on my desk this morning).

Dhavan is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court who works on affirmative action, human rights, secularism and constitutional governance. He is also Director of the public interest law firm PILSARC (Public Interest Legal Support and Research Center) and he writes on matters legal quite freqently, both books as well as newspaper articles.

"Affirmative action through exclusive quotas for India's disdvantaged in public services and education has caused strikes, protests and riots in India. Parliament and the Supreme Court echoed divergent solutions, resulting in dramatic clashes between Parliament and the courts.

An expose of contemporary political history, this book shows how Courts retreat into compromise and political parties show an embarassing overcommitment to win votes at all costs. If Court judgements are unreadable and complex, parliamentary debates are often hilarious, unsystematic, irrelevant, amusing and boring. Is this how India wishes to be governed?"

Dhavan's writings on such complex issues are very readable. He has been called "incisive, thoughtful and provocative". An earlier essay entitled "The Supreme Court and group life: religious, freedom, minority groups and disadvantaged communities" by him and Fali Nariman appeared in his (co-edited) book Supreme but not infallible (from OUP) , and another, on "Contempt of Court", in Courts, Legislatures, Media Freedom (punctuation mine) from NBT.

The book will eventually find its way to our Politics and Law sections. In the meanwhile, write in to us at the usual address.

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