COUNTER VIEW: Stop giving handouts
3 Jul 2008, 0005 hrs IST, Tara Gupta

A lot of ink has been spilt over Barack Obama's political success as
an African-American. The victory of the Democrats' presumptive
presidential candidate in the primary race was hailed as opening a new
chapter in improving race relations in America.

However, this success might claim as a casualty a policy Obama
supports, that of affirmative action. Many commentators are
questioning the necessity of conti-nuing with this policy, now that
Americans have proven that they are capable of electing a coloured
person to the top job.

And they have a point. If so many Americans can consider making Obama
president, how can racial prejudice be so prevalent and deep-rooted
that it justifies special efforts to place minorities in coveted jobs
and schools?

According to Ward Connerly, the policy is tantamount to a form of
racial discrimination against whites and Asians.

Affirmative action, he says, is a policy based on the presumption that
America is institutionally racist. But Obama's success belies this

That he has been able to become the leading presidential candidate
would support the view that affirmative action, if it was ever
necessary, is no longer required.

Reservations of any kind, be they the American experiment with
affirmative action or the Indian example of quotas, have tended to

Affirmative action has led to reverse discrimination against white
people while India's quota policies have seen various groups agitating
to get themselves classified in one quota-eligible category or the

Equal opportunity should be assured to a person, whether male or
female, black or white or brown.

Discriminatory policies such as affirmative action, no matter how well
intentioned, tend to have unintended consequences.

The erosion of affirmative action is inevitable. Obama's success may
hasten the process but previous achievements by blacks in business,
government, entertainment and other fields have already undermined the
argument that racial discrimination is rampant in America.

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