This book examines the principles underlining the policies of reservation and affirmative action adopted by two non-homogeneous and multi-ethnic societiesIndia and the USA. Despite the fact that the governments of both countries have, for over fifty years now, applied these measures to overcome discrimination based on caste and race respectively, the author maintains that there is no comprehensive account of the grounds on which either reservations or affirmative action can be intellectually justified.Addressing the key questionWhat is being affirmed through affirmative action?the author seeks the answer along four lines: - What is the religious component of such an affirmation, if any? - Is there a moral principle (or principles) underlying this affirmation? - Is this affirmation being advocated on the basis of ethical principles with which modern liberal thought is imbued? - Is the doctrine of human rights invoked in such an affirmation?