International Workshop and Symposium of Young Scholars Working on "Present Day Buraku Issues"

From July 31 to August 2, 2008

Organized by: Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute
Sponsored by: Commemorative Organization for the Japan World Exposition ('70)

Nature and Forms of Affirmative Action in Some Selected Countries:
With Special Reference to India and Japan"



Affirmative action may be a method to bring equality among the unequal people in the society. The concept of inequality is as old as the civilization. In other words we can say that inequality is predefined and predetermined and its origin with birth of a human being. In a pre-existing unequal society two people are unequal even by virtue of their birth, as well analyzed by John Rawls in his famous book ‘A theory of justice’. There are basically two types of inequality one can observe in this line, (1) pre defined inequality and, (2) generated inequality. The generated inequality is basically class based and or inequality which changes slowly over time where as the pre defined inequality is fixed in nature and cannot be changed over time period.

Caste, gender, race and ethnicity based inequalities are some examples of predefined structure of inequality. It is accepted that if some one born or belongs to any of the above groups will have to face exclusion and discrimination which resulted in inequality in the later phase. The increasing inequalities in the society because of any of the factors has now become a great concern because of two reasons, (1) economic growth, and (2) morality ground. The existing inequality hampers the economic growth of a society, nation as well as the economy as a whole. In addition to it the exclusion and discrimination factor stand as a hindrance for optimal function of any market. The suboptimal market functioning has become an impediment for economic growth.

With the increasing importance of welfare states and rise in consciousness among the deprive people across globe, the state machinery were compel to change their thinking from growth to equality. The Affirmative action is one of the mechanisms developed to provide social justice and bring equality among the unequal peoples.

The term "Affirmative Action" originated in 1961 with the order of US President John F. Kennedy's to ensure through a office order that applicants are treated equally without regard to their race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin.  Broadly speaking, affirmative action can be defined as policy or a program promoting the representation in various systems of people of a group who has traditionally or historically been discriminated against, with the aim of creating a more egalitarian society. This typically focuses on education, employment, government contracting, political representation, housing, land distribution, Capital, Gender, health care, or social welfare. In short, Affirmative action means inclusion, not exclusion.

Need for an Affirmative action policies:

There is a hot debate going on in India regarding the implementation of Affirmative action policy. The whole debate is surrounded with three issues (1) legitimacy of reservation as an affirmative action policy, (2) duration of the reservation, and (3) reservation to whom.  What ever may be the affirmative action policy if it is ensuring steps towards the equality and inclusion of a certain groups in the main streams, the policy should be acceptable. In the Indian context the quota systems for different jobs as well as getting admission into different educational institutions have been opposed by other caste peoples as well as some social scientist on three grounds, (1) It will affects the efficiency of production, (2) it may create social tension, and (3) multi generation reservation may affect the interest of other caste group people. But the answer to these three arguments was systematically address in a series of articles by Professor S K Thorat published in different News papers and Economic and political weekly last year. His main thrust of arguments are (1) there is no such evidence that reservation affect the efficiency or out put negatively, (2) Reservation in educational institution is a compensation for the last thousand years of discriminatory treatment and suppression faced by the Dalit, and reservation in jobs and promotion is a compensation for the present discrimination. Therefore reservation is inevitable for the development of the dalit community.

Even after the special provisions in the Indian constitution and codified rules for the safe guard of the Dalit communities’ discrimination, exclusion, atrocities against them are increasing day by day. We have taken an attempt to measure the nature and extent of discrimination in different spheres in India through a study title “Caste, occupation and Labour Market Discrimination in India: A case study of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh”. The above study certifies the very presence of discrimination in Indian rural labour market. In this report we have tried to develop a standard format to measure the extent of discrimination in labour and occupation. The criteria for measurement in labour market can be conceived as, (1) Complete exclusion, (2) Selective inclusion, (3) Discriminatory or differential behavior at work place, (4) Forced inclusion to certain works. In this frame we have tried to measure the issue of discrimination and found very satisfactory results in all the markets[1] of rural economy. It is interesting t note here that Untouchability is being practice in 48 different sites in 64 forms in India[2]. In addition to that I have tried to understand and assimilate the same from certain studies on Burakumins in Japan. A critical analysis of the finding is given in the Table below.

Certain spheres have been identified for categorization purpose. In Indian literature, few people have attempted to categories discrimination and Untouchability. These spheres are, (1) Economic spheres, (2) Social and Cultural spheres, (3) political Spheres, (4) Government programmes etc..

This indicates that discrimination and exclusion is deep rooted in the society and the constitutional measures taken by the state to eradicate the issue needs urgent attention.

The institutional structure of caste in India is so rigid that does not allow the dalit people to change their traditional occupation so easily. If the dalit have ever tried to shift from their caste based occupation, which is basically forced one, the response from the society was negative in this regards. Therefore even today majority of the dalit are either casual labour agricultural and non agricultural sector or associated with their traditional caste based occupation.

History tells that before introduction of the reservation system in India the representation of dalit in government service or politics was very negligible. It is due to the reservation policy few dalits came up and occupy some important position in both bureaucracy and political spheres.

Discrimination in Indian and Japanese Context:

Spheres of Discrimination Dalits in India Burakumin in Japan
Economic Spheres
Land Market Residential segregation, not allowing to purchase residential land in Non-Dalit locality, dalit have to pay more than the market price to buy agricultural land of Non dalit people 
Labour Market Get less days of employment, offer less than the market wage rate, Differential treatment at work place,
Social and Cultural Spheres
Education Low enrolment, High Drop out rate, Differential treatment by the high caste teachers, Differential treatment by the peer groups, Untouchability practice with in the class room, seating separately during the mid day meal distribution,   Children of Burakumin face prejudice and discriminatory
Health Village heal worker seldom visit dalit hamlets, Untouchability practice by the doctor and other medical staffs in the hospital, Doctor don’t attained calls of dalit hamlet  in case of emergency  
Public Spheres Dalits are not allowed to offer Puja inside the temple, Dalits are not allowed to make procession during any occasions, Some time Dalit can not wear shoes in front of the house of non Dalits, Dalits can not collect water from the tube well/well of non dalit locality, Dalit can not take bath with the non dalit people in the same places in the ponds etc.        Buracumin were given derogatory names posthumously,
Political Spheres
In the work Place In the lower strata of Panchayati Raj system Dalit have been facing differential treatment during seating in the hall, taking tea, they have to wash their own cups, there is separate glass for them to take water 
Decision making process The view of Dalit representatives were site lined by the other members, 
Government Programmes
Wage employment Programme Less number of days of employment provided by the contractor, Less than the prescribed wage is given to them in real practice, Differential treatment at the work place,
Food Distribution Programme There is a separate queue for the Dalit community for collection of food, Practice of Untouchability is very much practice there

Caste Based Discrimination in India and Japan:

Caste is birth based classification. The words ‘caste’ corresponds to the Sanskrit word Jati. The concept jati is a system/tradition itself. It is a hereditary system of social stratification. The word ‘caste’ is bsiaclly derived from the Portuguese word ‘casta’ , meaning lineage. Though historically and geographically widespread, the most well-known caste system today is the Indian caste system.[3] Anthropologists use the term more generally to refer to a social group that is endogamous and occupational^ specialized; such groups are common in highly stratified societies with a very low degree of social mobility. For instance, until the recent century, many Brahmins would not allow Dalits to touch them or would wash themselves or their possessions if it had been touched by Dalits (Untouchables).[4]

In the same way, in Japan, there exist an untouchable group called the Burukamin. They are the largest discriminated-against population in Japan. They are not a racial or a national minority, but a caste-like minority among the ethnic Japanese. They are generally recognized as descendants of outcaste populations in the feudal days. Outcastes were assigned such social functions as slaughtering animals and executing criminals, and the general public perceived these functions as 'polluting acts' under Buddhist and Shintoist beliefs. When the social status system was established in the 17th century (early Edo era) in the form of three classes (warrior, peasant, townsfolk), those outcastes, origin of the present Buraku people, were placed at the bottom of the society as Eta (extreme filth) and Hinin (non-human) classes.[5] Since the Dalits of India and the Burakumin of Japan faced similar form of discrimination in their respective societies, we have clubbed them under the theme 'Caste Discrimination' for clearer understanding of the nature of discrimination they faced.


Indian society is characterized by a high degree of structural inequalities based on the institutions of caste and ethnicity. The caste system (the social organization of Hindus who constitute more than 80 percent of population) is based on the principles which involves division of people in social groups (or castes), with unequal and hierarchal assignment of economic, and civil rights pre-determined by birth. It is highly exclusionary in nature and the social exclusion between the castes group is ensured through endogamy and the notion of purity and pollution.

The upper castes consisting of Brahmin, Kshastriyas and Vaishyas enjoyed from the unequal and hierarchal assignment of rights whereas the untouchable caste located at the bottom of hierarchy suffered most. Historically, they were denied right to property, business (except some occupations considered as impure and polluting), education and civil, cultural and religious rights. They were compelled to take up manual labour and service the other castes above them. Besides, the untouchables also suffer from residential segregation and social isolation for they are considered impure and polluting and not fit for social association by high caste[6]. The historical exclusion (and continuation of the same in some traditional forms if not all) of excluded groups resulted in severe deprivation and poverty among them and reflected in lack of access to income earning capital assets, (such as agricultural land and business), education, employment, (of some type) and lack of civil, cultural and political rights and finally in poverty and mal­nutrition. See Table 2 which is given below.

The above table presents the situation of SC with respect to indicator of level of living and discrimination in comparison with others (Non-SC/ST) during the early 2000. In general the Scheduled Castes have less access to the ownership of capital assets and employment, they are less educated, suffer from high degree of poverty, and lack of full civil, political and cultural rights, even today. About 70 % of SCs live in rural area. In 2000 about 16 percent of SCs were self employed cultivator and another 12% were in non-farm business. So about 28% had gained some access to capital assets- much lower compared with 56% for Non-SC/ST group. The per capita household assets (which reflect disparity in wealth) worked out to Rs 49180 for SC as against Rs 134500 for Non-SC/ST.

Table 2: Caste Groups Inequality-2000 -INDIA (Figure in Percentage)

Indicators of Development SC OC ALL

1 Poverty-percentage of Poor (Rural) in % 36 21 27
2 Poverty - Percentage of Poor (Urban) in % 38 21 24
3 Poverty of Agricultural Labour (Rural) 46 39 45
4 Poverty of Casual Labour (Urban) 58 45 49
Mal-nutrition and Under-nutrition
1 Infant Mortality 83 62 NA
2 Child Mortality 39 22 NA
3 Percent age of Children with Animia 78 72 NA
4 Under weight Children 21 14 NA
Access to agricultural Land and Capital Assets
1 Value of total Assets per household in Rupees (1992) 49189 134500 107007
1 Percentage of self employed cultivator 16 41 NA
2 Percentage of Wage Labour (Rural) 61 25 NA
3 Percentage of Casual Labour (Urban) 26 7.0 NA
Unemployment Rate (Rural) (Current Daily Status) 5.5 3.4 NA
Non-Agriculture Wages of Rural Labour (in Rupees) 61.06 64.9 NA
1 Literacy rate Rural for 2001 51.16 62.55 58.74
2 Literacy rate Urban for 2001 68.12 81.80 79.92
Percentage of Non-Agriculture Workers (job diversification) 27.07 32.2 NA
Discrimination and Atrocities
1 Number of registered cases of discrimination (1992-2001 14030 _ _
2 Number of registered cases of Atrocity (1992-2001) 81796 _ _
3 Number of total cases of Discrimination and Atrocity( 1992-2001) 285871

SC: Schedule Caste

OC: Other Caste (Non-SC/ST)

Source: -Employment and Unemployment Survey ,1999-2000,National Sample Survey, National Sample Survey Organization New Delhi, Consumption Expenditure Survey , National Sample Survey Organization New Delhi, Rural Labor Enquiry Report ,1990-2000 ,National labour, Simala, National Family Planning and Health survey -1998-99, International Population Research Institute ,Bombay, Population Census, 2001, Register General of Population Census,2005 ,Annual Report of Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe 2005,-Commission for Scheduled Caste and Tribe ,Delhi, Thorat (2005) "Persistence Poverty-Why SC and ST Stay Chronically Poor"DFID Working Paper (2005).

Due to lack of ownership of assets more than 60 percent of the Scheduled Caste households depend on casual wage labor, much higher than the one-fourth for others. An unemployment ratio among them is (5.5%) nearly twice that of other groups (3.5%). Only 51% percent are literate as compared with 62% percent for others. The cumulative impact of these deprivations is reflected in the high incidences of poverty- about 37 percent among Scheduled Castes as compared to only 20 percent among others.

High poverty leads to high infant mortality (83%) and child mortality (39%) among the SC as compared with others (61% and 22% respectively). At least 56% of SC women suffer from the anemia. The extent of malnutrition and under nutrition among the SC children is high, as more than half of them suffer from this problem.

The literacy rate among the SC was 52% as against 63% among others in rural area in 200. The corresponding literacy rate for urban area was 68.5 and 81.5 percent respectively.

As regard to discrimination, during 1991-2001, cases of caste discrimination was about 81,786 (atrocities) were registered with police under Anti-Untouchability Act (or Civil Right Act) of 1955 and Atrocity Act of 1989. Thus, a total of 285,871 cases of discrimination and violence were registered.

There are other ex-untouchable castes who have converted to other religions, namely untouchables converted to Sikh, Buddhist and Christian religion. They amount to about 4 percent of India's population and suffers from caste based discrimination in some spheres, if not all. Two of them in fact, namely untouchables converted to Sikhism and Buddhism are considered for the benefit of affirmation policy of Government. Beside the untouchable Christian's petition is lying with the government and Court for the consideration of inclusion in the list of those eligible for Reservation.


The eta or now more appropriately called burakumin is an oppressed caste within Japanese society. To the outside world, since Japan has only one racial group- mongoloid race, Japan comes across as a homogenous society without any social discrimination. But Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney states that the burakumin are "invisible" due to the fact that there are no physical characteristics that distinguish them from other Japanese[7].

The burakumin have also been referred to as the eta-hinin, a term that is still in use today. The word eta can be translated as "much or very polluted/unclean,"[8] and the word hinin simply means "nonperson." Thus, this group within Japan has been given no identity by the majority       Japanese, no genuine personhood (one of the derogatory terms used against the burakumin is yotsu, which refers to a four-legged animal), and therefore, not surprisingly, oppression and mistreatment have historically been their lot. Despite a general betterment of their situation in the last three decades—primarily due to legislation[9]—the Burakumin continue to be considered disparagingly in the Japanese public consciousness and "subjected to discrimination[10]. Up to this point, there have been no Burakus and only one Ainu in the Diet, Japan's national parliament[11]. (from editor: There have been several MPs from Buraku. )

Discrimination against the Burakumin can be traced back to feudal society of Japan. Since 17 century, the Burakumin has been treated as outcastes and untouchables by the other Japanese communities. They are the largest discriminated population in Japan. They are not racial or a national minority but a caste-like minority among the ethnic Japanese. They are generally days. They were considered as four leg animals (Non human beings). So they were assigned jobs which the general public perceived as polluting under the Buddhist and Shintoist beliefs such as slaughtering animals, leather works and executing criminals[12].

According to a 1993 government survey, there were about 1.2 million Buraku people at 4442 Buraku communities nationwide. These figures however represent only those areas classified as Dowa districts (Dowa districts refer to Buraku areas)[13]. The Buraku Liberation News (March 1998) stated that, according to a survey conducted by the Japanese government, "there are 4,442 communities with 298,385 households and a population of 892,751 throughout the country where Dowa projects have been implemented."[14]

Although, the living standard of Buraku people became higher compared to the past, there are still gap between Buraku and non-Buraku people. In addition, there are many incidents of discrimination, particularly with respect to marriage and employment as well as discriminatory remarks and inquiries made by non-Buraku people including public officials[15].

In 1998 news broke of a scandal involving Japanese companies engaged in discriminatory hiring practices. Citizenship, locations of residence were among the types of information collected by companies to mark out Burakumin and reject their job application[16]. Up to this point, there have been no Burakus in the Diet, Japan's national parliament[17].  In this context it is interesting to understand the nature and form of affirmative action policy in India as well as Japan here.


There are only four countries in the world where affirmative action for the discriminated groups is being authored by the provisions in the constitution. The names of the countries are namely, India (extensive provisions), Malaysia, South Africa and Namibia.

The names of the countries which have anti-discrimination provision in the constitutions are Japan, China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Nigeria, USA, France and Germany.

The Parameter for Identifying Minorities and Discriminated Groups

The parameters for identifying the minorities or discriminated groups are Race, Caste, Ethnicity, Indigenous groups, Religion, Territorial location, population etc. The way minorities and discriminated groups are identified differ from country to country (See Table 1).


Continent Country Groups Identifying Indicators
ASIA India Dalits (SC,ST,OBC) Muslim Caste, Ethnicity; Religion
Japan Burakumin Okinawans, Ainu Japanese-born Koreans Caste based group; 1 Indigenous groups; Minorities
China 55 minorities nationalities Ethnic Minorities
Malaysia Bumiputras Ethnic Majorities
Pakistan Baluch, Pakhtun, Tribal Regional Backwardness Ethnicity
Sri Lanka Sinhalese Ethnic Majorities
Nepal Dalits Indigenous groups Caste, Ethnicity

Sources: Thorat, S. and Martin Kamodang (2006):


Countries with Affirmative Action Policy

The names of the countries with affirmative action policies are India, Japan, China, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Asia . In Latin American continent, the countries are Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico. In African continent, it is implemented in South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia and in American continent, USA and Canada. In Europe, positive discrimination (accepted term for affirmative action) is found in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, France and Germany. In New Zealand preferential policy is available for the Maori tribals.

Nature and Forms of Affirmative Action

It is obvious that the nature and forms of affirmative action for various discriminated groups are different with in the country itself and also different across countries. These variations occur in terms of three different yet related axis. In some country, the form of the program involves quota and in some other it steers clear from quotas. Second, the kind of legal norms from which preferential policies or affirmative action programs are derived also varies from country to country, in some it is constitutionally mandated in others it is a product of legislative measures and some times they are governed by administrative orders. Third the domain in which such policies or programs will be implemented also differs from country to country. (Thorat and Martin;2006)

Generally, affirmative action policy is targeted towards minority groups but in some exceptional case like in Malaysia, South Africa, Namibia, it is for the ethnic majority groups. And the groups that are recipient of the benefits of affirmative action are the ones that have the power to legislate them. Therefore, in the case of Malaysia, affirmative action policy was quite successful.



In India, affirmative action or rather what is commonly known as reservation policy (Indian term for AA) is enshrined in the constitution for the weaker sections (SC/ST/OBC) and it is based on quota-system. The quota system (mandating some seats for certain groups) of affirmative action is strictly implemented only in government services (public sector), education and legislature. Of course debate going on now to implement it in the private sector also. But now it is a debate. 

Reservation policy-Employment, Education and Legislature

The Indian government's approach towards the weaker sections or the marginalized groups has been primarily shaped by the provisions in constitution, which guarantees equality before the law, and empowers the state to make special provisions to promote the educational and economic interest of the SC/ST and to provide legal and other safeguards against discrimination in multiple spheres.

The government has used two fold strategy for the SC/ST, which include (a) legal safeguards against discrimination (b) Pro-active measures in the form of Reservation policy for State sector and those sectors that are partially or fully supported through finances by the state and (c) Policy in the nature of informal affirmative action for private sector (namely agriculture and private industry, in which more than 90 % of SC/ST workers are engaged) as part of general developmental or empowering measures practiced by the central government or the state government.

Anti-discriminatory measures include enactment of Anti-untouchability act of 1955 (renamed as protection of Civil rights Act in 1979) and Schedule Caste/Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989. Under the first Act practice of untouchability and discrimination in public places and services is treated as offence. The second Act provides Legal protection to the SC /ST against violence and atrocities of several kinds by the high castes.

Reservation for SC/STSC/ST in government services, educational institutions and political bodies like legislature are not confined to anti-discriminatory measures but also includes pro-active measures. These pro-active measures have been used to ensure proportional participation of the SC/ST in various public domains.

The reservation policy is confined to a tiny state run and state supported sectors and the vast private sector where more than 90% of the SC/ST population /workers engaged are excluded and therefore, remained unprotected from possible discrimination. In the absence of reservation policy in the private sectors, the state has used "general programmes" for economic, educational and social empowerment of the SC/ST. The focus has been to improve the private ownership of fixed capital assets (land and non-land), education, and improved access to social needs like housing, health, drinking water, electricity and others. The strategy for improving or building the private ownership of capital assets, education and social needs, which has been generally taken as part of anti-poverty program have also been used as a method through earmarking certain proportion for SC/ST as well as quotas in an informal manner for SC/ST.

Reservation Policy for Government Sector

Since the main focus of this paper is on the Affirmative Action Policy, we discuss the Reservation policy for state sector in some detail. The Reservation policy is operative mainly in three spheres, namely Government jobs, admission in Public Educational Institutions and seats in Central, State and local Legislature and bodies. It must be mentioned that in the case of services and education, affirmative action policy is confined to government and government-aided sector of services and educational institutions and the private job and educational institutions are completely excluded from the purview of the policy. Over a period of time the sphere of government action and influence has expanded so did the scope of reservations. The new spheres include government housing, government spaces for shops and commercial activities and a number of other small spheres.

Most important one is the reservation in government services. Article 16(A) permits reservation in favour of backward castes and in pursuance of this provision Government made reservation for SC and ST in proportion to their share of population. (See table 2) There is also reservation in promotion of employed persons The government services generally include Government civil service, public sector undertakings, Statutory and Semi-Government Bodies, voluntary agencies etc. which are under the control of the Government or receiving grant-in-aid. At the central level some of the services are excluded from the reservation and these prominently include defence and judiciary.

Reservation is accompanied by array of other special provisions, designed to facilitate and to improve the ability of these groups to compete for government jobs. These include relaxation of minimum age for entry in to the service, relaxation in minimum standard of suitability with in reasonable limit (subject to required minimum qualification), relaxation in fee, and provision for pre-examination training, separate interview for SC/ST persons, provision of experts from SC/ST background on selection committee and others.

A second important sphere of Reservation is education. Article 15 (4) empowers the State to make special provision for the advancement of SCs and STs. Under this provision the State has reserved seats for SCs and STs students in educational institutions, which include collages and universities, including technical, engineering and medical colleges run by the Central and State government and the government aided educational institutions. These provisions are supported by number of financial schemes. Among educational schemes are scholarships, special hostels for SC and ST students, concession in fees, grants for books, Remedial coaching etc.

Third most important sphere of reservation is the representation in Central and State Legislature. A legislative reservation is one of the specific and mandatory constitutional provisions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Under Articles 330,332 and 334 of the Constitution, seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Central Legislature and State legislature in proportion to the population share. Similar reservation is provided at the local level bodies at district, Taluk and village level. The constituencies (for the seat in parliament and state assemblies) are reserved for the Scheduled Castes/ Tribes in proportion to their share in population. Thus at all India level the out of total numbers of Member of Parliament, about 14 % and 7% of constituencies (or seats) are earmarked for Scheduled caste and scheduled respectively. Only a person from scheduled and tribe can contest from these reserved constituencies. For example in 2004, of the total of 543 constituencies (or seat) in Central parliament, 75 were reserved for Scheduled caste and 41 for scheduled tribe The number of seats are based on the population census conducted every ten year. Same method is followed at State level and sub-state level. Those constituencies are identified as reserved, where the population share of scheduled caste and tribe proportion to population is comparatively large.

The constitutional provision of reserved seats is complemented by statutory provisions to enhance political participation by SC and ST. Smaller election deposits are required from members of these groups. It may be mentioned that there is time limit for political reservation. To begin with it was provided for ten year with a provision for extension for every ten years. Since the initiation of reservation for the first time in 1937,it has been extended after every ten year and the present extension is up to 2010.

It may also be mentioned that ten year limit is not applicable to reservation in government services and governmental educational institutions. While the Constitution made a general provision for adequate share for schedule caste /tribe, it is left to the government to follow the policy of reservation up to point when it considered that discrimination against scheduled caste/ tribe may not be a major problem and that they are adequately empowered and receive due representation and participation in the normal course. The same criterion may be used for extension of reservation in legislature after every ten year.

It is also necessary to recognize that although there is a minority view which expresses concern about extension of reservation without time limit, the dominant view is in favour of extension as long as discrimination and social exclusion of scheduled caste/tribe persists. And since the social exclusion and discrimination of scheduled caste /tribe is prevalent on large scale in multiple spheres and that these groups continue to be deprived, there is general support in government for reservation policy without time consideration .In fact given the exclusive character of Indian society the reservation in government services have been extended to other groups such as Other backward caste (who constitute 27 % of India's population), scheduled caste converted to Sikhism, and Buddhism, backward caste among the Muslim The case for reservation for scheduled caste converted to Christianity is under consideration and some states have already announced reservation in government services for Muslim on limited scale.

However, there is difference of opinion about the targeting of reservation within the group identified for reservation. In the case of Other backward caste for example, the relatively better -off classes, which are described as "Creamy Layer" are excluded from reservation. The Creamy Layer is identified on the basis of income and other supplementary indicators. In the case of scheduled caste /tribe the concept of creamy layer is not applied, as relatively better off as well as worse off suffer from discrimination and non-participation in development processes in the country. Even the relatively better-off from scheduled caste /tribe are excluded from economic facilities based on the income criterion and those spheres a that are outside the purview of government, although they are entitled for reservation in government jobs, educational institutions and Legislature


Anti-Discrimination Legislation:

Confronting the continued discrimination, the National Levelers Association was founded by Buraku people in 1922 to unite and fight against daily occurrences of discrimination. As Japan, however, moved toward militarism and took sides in World War II, the association was suppressed and stopped halfway. After the war, Buraku liberation movements were reunited in 1946 under the name of the National Committee for Buraku Liberation, which later evolved into the Buraku Liberation League (BLL), the present name. The Committee started to demand responsible local authorities to improve living environments of Buraku areas, which were extremely poor as a result of the negligence of the government services. This struggle developed into a movement demanding a national policy on Buraku problems. As a result, the Cabinet Dowa Policy Council clearly stated that the solution of the Buraku problem was a State responsibility, in their recommendation of 1965. The Committee and subsequently the Buraku Liberation League (BLL) successfully facilitated the national government to consecutively enact laws to improve the living environment of Buraku areas.

In 1969 the Special Measures Law (SML) was implemented. This law helped rebuild thousands of Dowa areas, some literally from the ground up, with the money for such projects coming from national, prefects and local governments. In addition to the money that was spent rebuilding communities, funds were used to subsidize housing, provide scholarships for Burakumin youth, and underwrite other programs to reduce the financial burden on Burakumin families. In order to end discrimination against Burakumin, government entailed revision of article 10 of the Koseki law in 1976 to restrict access to family registers. This made it much more difficult to investigate people's background.

The Burakumin Liberation League has led a national campaign seeking for the enactment of the Fundamental Law for Buraku Liberation by presenting its draft bill since 1985. The bill stipulates the obligations of the government and citizens in order to completely and immediately solves Buraku discrimination. It urges the government to take legal measures for the promotion of human rights education, the regulation on Buraku discrimination, the relief system for the victims of the discrimination as well as the legal measures for Dowa projects. The campaign has been joined by various Organization s from labor, business, religious, academic, local governments and other sectors. The government enacted in December 1996 the Law for the Measures for Promotion of Human Rights Protection. It stipulates that the government shall establish the Council for Promoting Human Rights Protection, that is required to conclude a policy recommendation for the measures of human rights education and awareness-raising within 2 years, and for the relief measures for the victims of human rights violations within 5 years. In addition, the government decided in February 1997 on the 5 years extension of the Law regarding the Special Fiscal Measures of the Government for Regional Improvement Projects, which would expire in March 2002. In 2000, the government enacted the "Law on the promotion of human rights education and human rights awareness-raising.."

Special Education:

Dowa education was first conceived by the Japanese government in the 1940s to promote harmony between non-Buraku and Buraku soldiers in the Japanese army. Osaka Prefects and City Boards of Education have published and distributed to all schools a supplementary textbook on Dowa education called Ningen ("Human Beings"), which includes poems, songs, short stories, and articles to introduce children to the topic of human rights and the problem of discrimination against the Burakumin, Koreans in Japan, women, disabled persons, and so forth.

Since the 1970s, many municipalities have set up guidelines for Dowa education, instituted Dowa teacher training programs, and assigned additional teachers to schools enrolling Buraku children.

There has been significant improvement, particularly in the percentage of Burakumin youth advancing to high school, which at 92% has closed to within approximately 4% of the national average 96.5% (Somucho 1995:62-63). This marks a drastic reduction from the 36.5% gap in 1963, when the average for Burakumin students stood at 30.3% compared to a national average of 66.8%.


Basic Law

The Basic Law of Disabled People[18] provides basic policies concerning people with disabilities in order to promote disabled people's independence and their participation in society. Based on this law, the government must establish the Basic Plan Concerning Policies for Disabled People in order to implement basic policies.


The Law Concerning Promotion of Employment of Disabled People[19] established a quota-levy system. Employers must employ a certain ratio of physically or intellectually disabled people among their employees. The ratios are established in the Enforcement Order of the Law Concerning Promotion of Employment of Disabled People. Currently, the ratio is 1.8 percent for the private sector and 2.0 percent for the national and local governments. Employers who employ 56 or more employees must follow this ratio. For the purpose of calculating the fulfillment of the quota, people with grave disabilities are counted as two disabled employees. A parent company can include employees in a subsidiary that satisfies the specified criteria. Employers who exceed the quota receive money from the government in accordance with the degree of the excess. Employers who do not meet the quota must pay a levy in accordance with the degree of the default. The Japan Association for Employment of Persons with Disabilities was established based on this law and administers the quota-levy system. The association is under the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare that administers labor policies. This law also has provisions regarding vocational training centers and other institutions to promote employment of people with disabilities.[20]


Under article 26 of the Constitution, disabled children have the right to equal education. The School Education Law 53 provides for a special class for people with disabilities and special schools for the blind, deaf, and physically handicapped or retarded. The Ministry of Education, which administers education policies, tried to create special schools depending on the kind and degree of children's disabilities. The integration of disabled children into mainstream schooling began recently. Whether a normal public school accepts a child with disability who is qualified for special school depends on the school and municipal government's education committee. Japanese law recognizes the need to promote equal rights and the general welfare of persons with disabilities. The Basic Law of 1999 mandates the government to establish basic plans concerning policies for disabled persons. The mandate led to various statutes and regulations dealing with substantive measures for access to employment, education transportation, and public services, as well as allocating the administration of government programs and issues of implementation and enforcement between the central government, the prefectures and the municipalities.


Many Buraku communities have changed significantly as a result of the Special Measures Law. Their housing and living standard has improved to a great extend. For instance, the residents of Saiwai Chiku (pseudonym) in Osaka no longer Law No. 26 of 1947, as amended by Law No. 10 of 2000.

Preside in dilapidated housing but in high-rise apartment buildings. The community affords its residents a level of convenience and access to services that few places can match. A health clinic, a community center with an auditorium, sports complex, a grocery store, a youth center, a senior citizen's center, a swimming pool, and a nursery are all located within the community. Even in economy, prior to the Special Measures Law, employment was quite unstable. People were moving from one place to another and they could not even afford to send their children to school. And those children who attended school were unjustly punished by their teachers. But now, the employment situation has improved for many Burakumin in Saiwai Chiku. Approximately one-third of the people in Saiwai Chiku hold jobs as government employees (10.6% for men, 11.2% for women). Within Dowa areas there has been a gradual increase in the number of families earning enough to be taxed at the standard tax rate. In 1971 43% fell within this earning bracket (Buraku Kaiho Kenkyujo 1997:60-61). By 1975 this number had climbed to 53.9%, peaking at 58.2% in 1993. In 1992 80% of Japanese families were paying tax at this rate, os that despite the entry into this tax bracket of a further 15% of Burakumin families between 1971-1993, their earnings still lagged behind the rest of the population.

[1] Market includes, Land, labour, input, out put and credit market.

[2] Kindly refer Shah and etal (2006) Untouchability in Rural India, sage publication.

[5] Source: Buraku Liberation League Homepage, http://www.bll.gr.jp/eng.html

[6] Source: Akerlof, 1976, Scoville, 1991, Lai, 1988, Ambedkar, 1936 and 1987, Thorat 2005.

[7] Emiko Ohniki-Tierney, The Monkey as Mirror: Symbolic Transformations in Japanese History and Ritual (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987), p. 98.

[8] Connecting the eta of the Tokugawa period and the eta of the medieval period is highly problematical. Apparently, the term existed in earlier periods (Kamakura, Muromachi), but there was a differing population in the Edo eta than the previously group. See Suehiro Kitaguchi's description of these differences in his An Introduction to the Buraku Issue: Questions and Answers, trans./intro. by Alastair McLauchlan (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1999), 80 ff.

[9] The foremost contributor to the betterment of the buraku situation has been the Law on Special Measures for Buraku Improvement Project (Dowa Taisaku Jigy Tokubetsu Sochiho). "Between 1969 and 1994, under the terms of the LSM, almost 14 billion yen was spent on 'target areas,' with responsibility shared between state administration and the smaller, sub-prefectural authorities of city, town, and village authorities." (Kitaguchi, An Introduction to the Buraku Issues, p.4.

[10] cf. Kitaguchi, An Introduction to the Buraku Issue: Questions and Answers, p. Iff.

[11] Source: Human Rights Features HRF /39/001. Home Page: http://www.hrdc.net/sahrdc/

[12] Source: Burakumin Liberation League Homepage, http://www.bll.gr.jp/eng.html

[13] Source: Burakumin Liberation League Homepage, http://www.bll.gr.jp/eng.html

[14] Shigeyuki Kumisaka, "The Current Condition of Minorities in Japan and Challenge: The Buraku Issue," Buraku Liberation News, no. 101, March 1998, p. 5.

[15] Source: Burakumin Liberation League Homepage, http://www.bll.gr.jp/eng.html

[16] Source: John H. Davis Jr, "Blurring the boundaries of the Burakumin" in the edited book "Globalization and social change in contemporary Japan" edited by J.S Eades, Tom Gill, Harami Befu, Trans Pacific Press, Australia, March, 2002.

[17] Source: Human Rights Features HRF /39/001. Home Page: http://www.hrdc.net/sahrdc/

[18] Law No. 84 of 1970, as amended by Law No. 160 of 1999.

[19] Law No. 123 of 1960, as amended by Law No. 35 of 2002.

[20] Law No. 26 of 1947, as amended by Law No. 10 of 2000.