Rakesh Basant

Who Participates in Higher Education in India? Rethinking the Role of Affirmative Action

The introduction of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in higher education in India has rekindled the old debate around affirmative action. Some empirical results on how an individual’s participation in India’s higher education (HE) is dependent on her religious affiliations, socioeconomic status, and demographic characteristics. The key argument is that an
appropriate measure of ‘deficits’in participation should inform the nature and scope of affirmative action. On isolating the effect of socio-religious affiliation from other factors that may influence participation in HE, what emerges is a suggestion that the deficits faced by some marginalized groups are not substantial. If reservation policy for these groups is to be justified only on the basis of low participation, it may require a review.

Rakesh Basant is currently a visiting Professor at the School of Business at UW, Madison. His regular position is that of a Professor of Economics and Chairperson, Center for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India. Current teaching and research interests focus on firm strategy, innovation, public policy &
regulation. Recent work has focused on competition policy, interorganizational linkages for technology development (especially academia industry relationships), strategic and policy aspects of intellectual property rights, linkages between public policy and technological change, industrial clusters, the economics of strategy and the small-scale sector in India. The sectoral focus of the research in the aforementioned areas has been on Pharmaceutical, IT, Electronics and Auto-component industries. Was a member of the Indian Prime Minister’s High-Level Committee (also known as Sachar Committee) to write a report on the Social, Economic and Educational Conditions of Muslims in India. In continuation of this work, part of his current research focuses on issues relating to affirmative action especially in higher education. Has also been a recipient of the of the Ford Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Economics and has spent two years at the Economic Growth Center, Yale University, USA as a Visiting Research Fellow. He has also worked as a consultant to several international organizations.