'Reservation' debate has raged for decades

Quotas have applied in education and in government jobs since 1950.

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The debate over "reservation" has raged in India for decades. Quotas have applied in education and in government jobs since 1950 for tribes and Dalits, the lowest rank in India's 3,000 year-old caste system.

Although the constitution outlaws caste discrimination, the practice continues in rural India where it affects where people live and who they can marry.

The lower castes cleaned drains and public toilets, worked as scavengers, were not permitted to use the village well, and their children could not attend village schools.

In cities, the caste distinctions have blurred with people from all communities taking the same buses and trains, working side by in factories and offices.

The Indian government's reservation programme aimed to end caste distinctions by setting aside places for the lower castes and tribes in universities, government employment and legislative assembly seats.

Prakash Jha, the director of Aarakshan, said he had been planning a film on reservations since clashes in the 1980s between pro and anti reservation groups.

"I like to observe the changes society goes through due to government polices, economic or social changes," he said. "So I hope and pray it connects with the people."

* Ramola Talwar Badam