Jun 7, 2006

An ex-colleague on Reservations

A former colleague from HP, Bruce left a comment on my other blog on reservation. I thought it was an important viewpoint to be noted on this blog, as it has implications for organizations and people working in them.

I'm an American, and a former co-worker of Gautam's. I've never visited India, and yet...

The quotas in Indian universities have been getting a fairly large amount of attention in Silicon Valley. I don't pretend to understand the issue in full, but it certainly reminds me of the period of the early 1960's in the US when laws were passed to ensure that employers and schools took "affirmative action" to remedy decades of prior discrimination against black Americans.

Powerful voices said then "Isn't a level playing field enough? Must we actually FAVOR the previously discriminated against? Must today's young white people give up their places at the head of the line in order to redress the discrimination that benefited their parents' generation?"

Four decades of experience has convinced me that Affirmative Action is just, and that it will probably need to be in place in the US for 3 generations (60-80 years) before we achieve a color-blind society where "a level playing field" actually exists for people of all races.I expect that India will find the process will take a similar length of time to play out.

Yes, there will be thousands of talented individuals from privileged backgrounds who will face challenges because of the changes.

There will be injustices -- but over time, Indian society will benefit, as American society has, by becoming more inclusive.