Just to give the context: My underlying opinion here is that caste-based reservation should be abolished. And if any form of reservation is present it should be solely based on economic background.

For the sake of this discussion, the term "reservation-eligible population" means the part of population that has some sort of privilege due to reservation. Also lets assume 100% of the people vote in elections. Suppose in a democratic country's population, the percentage of reservation-eligible population reaches above 50% at some point of time. Then I am not able to find a way how reservation may be decreased in future.

Now if a political party tries to propose a law aimed at decreasing the reservation, all of this "reservation-eligible population" would oppose the party fearing the potential loss of their privilege, and the political party won't come again into power. So this way, no rational political party would ever want to propose such a law.

In today's India, (please correct me if I am wrong) the percentage of reservation-eligible population is around 70%. So doesn't this mean, we will never be able to witness removal of caste-based reservation?

The only way I could see this happening keeping within the limits of democracy is if a party comes up with an amendment which covers more than 50% of the poorer sections of the population. But even that is too far fetched since no one would like to take that risk I suppose.

So, why didn't Consitution makers add a clause that the percentage of reservation eligible population should always be less than 50% (minus some realistic margin), so that this law could be changed in future?

  • I do not see a question in this post. This looks more like an answer rather than a question.
    – Alexei
    Mar 21 at 20:02
  • @Alexei added an edit, sorry for the mishap
    – ztart14578
    Mar 21 at 20:08
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    It really takes a more detailed explanation of how the reservation system works as whole (or at least a link to someplace that does) and some support for your claim that 70% of the population is benefitting from it, to make an argument in support of that position. For example, just because 70% of the population have the appropriate caste designation, if only 7% of the population has the basic qualifications to be in the running for benefits to which the reservation system applies, then the political analysis is very different. And, it isn't as if it is impossible to amend India's constitution.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 22 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


Your "game theory" hypothesis simply doesn't match how actual politics works.

Before 1918, women were not allowed to vote in the UK. What game theory advantage could predict that men would choose parties that would allow women to vote? The male vote was certainly diluted and weakened by allowing women to vote. Going further back, only those men who owned property had a vote. Again why would these property owners choose to weaken their own influence by granting tenants and lodgers the right to vote.

And yet they did.

The purpose of the reservation is to correct for a historical injustice: namely that large sections of the population were systematically discriminated against (to the extent that they were considered innately dirty and polluted) and not allowed any political power. And presumably, the drafters of the constitution thought all those families that were affected by this discrimination should receive constitutional protection, regardless of whether they formed a majority of the population or not.

And if they do form a majority, then it is the nature of the democratic rule that they should be able to act in concert to make a choice to keep or not those protections.

  • Thanks for the answer. But I differ on some points you wrote. 1) Lets say men = women in number so 50-50%. Now you are assuming that men are losing a privilege if women are also allowed to vote. In a sense, yes they are. But even from a game theory point of view, a rational man may also weigh his wife's want to vote. So not all men would be against women voting. 2) For property owners, kind of the same argument, but this may even be due to the proportion of property owners being less than 50% (non majority). 3) Also, the reservations here I not only in politics, but in almost all sectors.
    – ztart14578
    Mar 21 at 21:37
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    There is a flaw in this "actual politics" analogy. The average male voter had women in their immediate circle: their wives, daughters, mothers. Choosing to deny intimate acquaintances their rights is very different in nature from abstract support for strangers' rights. Within a system - castes - expressly constructed to keep people apart and "other". This Q is more akin to the - good ol days - worries in traditional Rep circles that most voters would receive more from government than they paid in, thus incentivizing them to raise taxes evermore. Mar 22 at 6:16
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica for another analogy we could look at how the United States gave voting rights to people of color in the 1870s. Racial segregation and prejudice was pretty strong back then. It was very unusual for people of that time to have any strong social bonds with people of other races.
    – Philipp
    Mar 26 at 9:41
  • @Philipp: yeah, but that was followed by Jim Crow laws, "literacy tests" etc., to bring back the hurdles. There wasn't an equivalent for women like that, in the aftermath. Mar 27 at 0:18
  • Also, granting rights to another group is not the same as giving up some benefits from one's own group. Men allowing women to vote does not directly "cost" men. Whereas lessening reserved-caste benefits comes at a direct cost to those who benefited from it. When's the last time you saw a profession with particular privileges, subsidies or tax breaks willingly give those up? No matter the "economic fairness" of that adjustment. Mar 27 at 0:55

It is a good point that reservations cannot be replaced. no political party can make any such decision.


As Narayana Murthy was talking about in recent past that if govt gives such special provision for certain section then there government should make policy in terms of the returns govt or society is expecting from the beneficiary. There should even be a review process which will monitor the beneficiaries and their current status, whether there is enough representation from that section or what is the literacy % of that section today compared to date of independence.

Judiciary has given certain directions where the reservations cannot exceed 50% but there is a way to overcome such judgements by adding the matter in schedule 9 of Indian constitution.

Example: tamilnadu has more than 68% reservation.

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    So you are basically saying that the law should come with objective limits as well as criteria as to when it would be adjusted downwards or repealed? One thing to support that is that it is frequently the case in democracies that even a minority of beneficiaries, with strong motivation to keep, can hold off a diffuse intent to repeal by a majority. Mar 26 at 20:59
  • Yeah, I think it should be fair for people/section of people who are still not receiving enough attention for their development. Lawmakers should concentrate on making such provisions to ensure the law is applicable to all the sections of society who are still missing benefits with review and feedback mechanisms Mar 27 at 3:00

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