For seventy years, India’s democracy has relied on ethnic quotas to redress historical disadvantages faced by marginalized communities. Today, political seats are reserved for these groups at every level of governance, from the village to the national parliament. After seven decades of affirmative action, how have quotas promoted social justice, influenced social norms, and changed economic outcomes?

Two new books, Why Representation Matters: The Meaning of Ethnic Quotas in Rural India by Simon Chauchard, and Francesca Jensenius’ Social Justice through Inclusion: The Consequences of Electoral Quotas in India offer answers to these critical questions, drawing on innovative methods and a wide array of evidence stretching from the villages of rural Rajasthan to New Delhi’s corridors of power. Chauchard and Jensenius discussed their findings and their implications for democracy in multi-ethnic countries. Carnegie’s Milan Vaishnav moderated.

This event was followed by a reception and book signing.

Simon Chauchard

Simon Chauchard is an assistant professor in the Government Department at Dartmouth College, and a faculty affiliate in the Asia and Middle Eastern Studies program.

Francesca Jensenius

Francesca Jensenius is a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

Milan Vaishnav

Milan Vaishnav is senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he works on the political economy of India.