An Alternative to India's Reservation Policy: A Unified Framework for Rigorous and Adaptive Measurement of Socio-Economic Status

Authors:

Dhruv Sinha (Ashoka University)
Ojas Sahasrabudhe (Ashoka University)
Dhruv Agarwal (Ashoka University)
Debayan Gupta (Ashoka University)

Session: 1.2A: Development and economics

Abstract: Affirmative action in the form of reservations is a divisive and contentious topic of policy in India. In this paper, we create the first principled and data-driven model to design the reservations policy in India. We look at various issues that critics present against the current policy and try to resolve them, while pursuing a (provably) more effective and efficient system of empowerment. We use statistical modeling to create our new framework, RAMSES (Rigorous and Adaptive Measurement of Socio-Economic Status). RAMSES measures the multidimensional disadvantage faced by an individual as an “adjusted income”, which calibrates the quantum of compensatory aid required in the form of reservations for that individual to have a level playing field. We explain our model using a case study.