I have extracted this just to remind us of the affirmative action in Fiji. Questions I would likt to raise are
1. Have we levelled the playing field
2.Have the outcome been the ideal objective of what was perceived
3.Did we do it right- the process, the involvement of all stakeholders
4. Are we still in the midterm cycle of the affirmative action so longed engaged by previous government.
5.Are the leader of the current IG product of Affirmative Action and if they are ...then what have we learn from there dispense of good governance.
Just a reminder from the book on Candor, Wisdom
When Harry Truman was thrust into the the presidency by the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
Sam Rayburn took him aside and said
"From here on out, you're going to have lots of people around you. They will try to put up a wall around you and cut you off from any ideas but theirs. They'll tell you what a great man you are, Harry. But you and me both know you aint!"
Updated: June 15, 2009
More than a half century since it began, affirmative action has produced a legacy of tangible successes, including a revolution in recruiting and hiring. But it has caused persistent resentment and failed to eliminated poverty or racism.
The affirmative action program began with World War II when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the executive order barring discrimination in the federal government and by war industries. It was a tactic to thwart a planned march on Washington organized by A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The executive order outlawed discrimination against blacks by defense contractors; it also set up the first Fair Employment Practices Committee. Compliance, though, was imperfect; the programs lacked enforcement and funds.
Affirmative action gained muscle in the 1960s with the rise of the civil rights movement. Explicitly, it has been about race and, to a lesser degree, gender -- a policy to make up for centuries of oppression and to ensure diversity. But there has always been a broader notion to affirmative action as well. It has been the most serious effort of any kind to ensure equality of opportunity in education and hiring, without regard to wealth or poverty. When all else failed -- the War on Poverty, welfare, public schools -- the system enabling preferential treatment would be there to help less-fortunate Americans overcome the circumstances of their origins.
Executive order 10925, issued by President John F. Kennedy in March 6, 1961, established the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, mandating that projects given federal funds take affirmative action to keep racial bias out of employment and hiring practices. But it was the Civil Right Act signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 that effectively outlawed discrimination and breathed life into the idea of equal opportunity.
In 1965, Mr. Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, which required federal contractors to take affirmative action in hiring employees without regard to race, religion and national origin. Three years later, gender was added to the protected categories.
But still more muscle was required. This time President Richard M. Nixon provided it in 1969 in the most far-reaching federal expansion of affirmative action. His so-called "Philadelphia Order" went after the construction trades, an attempt to end their hidebound hiring practices. In 1970, an order was issued that broadened the plan to include non-construction federal contractors
Affirmative action, however, met staunch opposition from Jews, who assailed what they called a quota system. Some leaders feared that it would create polarization jeopardizing the economic and political status of Jews and white middle-class people -- that it was, in effect, reverse discrimination. Jews have long argued against the quotas of elite universities and colleges that were used to exclude them, regardless of academic merit. Jewish groups saw minority admissions programs as the reworking of the old, disreputable system.
Courts have tended to rule against colleges and universities that use strict numerical solutions to remedy racial imbalances. The Bakke case would become a famous salvo galvanizing both sides of the affirmative action debate.
Allan P. Bakke, a white man, challenged a special admission program at the University of California's medical school at Davis. Mr. Bakke said the special program had discriminated against him on the basis of race, and the California State Supreme Court agreed.
The case, which went to the United States Supreme Court, was seen by many as the most important race relations lawsuit since the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision on school desegregation.
In its 1978 landmark Regents v. Bakke decision, the court ruled 5-4 that it was unconstitutional for a state school to reserve a limited number of places for qualified minority applicants. It said, however, that race could be taken into consideration in deciding admission -- that race could be a "plus factor." The decision meant that the great majority of affirmative action programs, both public and private, could continue -- along with the escalating debates and lawsuits over what constitutes racial balance.
In the early 1990s, elite campuses began to pull back from their aggressive affirmative-action policies. And in 1996, California voters passed the California Civil Rights Initiative, also known as Proposition 209. After that, race could no longer be a factor in government hiring or public-university admissions. The number of black students at both Berkeley and U.C.L.A. plummeted, and at U.C.L.A. the declines continued throughout the next decade.
The reasons weren't entirely clear, but they seemed to include some combination of the admissions office taking Proposition 209 to heart and black students falling further behind in the academic arms race. The changes on U.C.L.A.'s campus were hard to miss. In 1997, the freshman class included 221 black students; in 2006, it had only 100. In the region with easily the largest black population west of the Mississippi River, the top public university had a freshman class in which barely 1 in 50 students was black.
While foes of the referendums were rushing to the courts, supporters of such initiatives announced the formation of the American Civil Rights Institute to overturn affirmative action programs elsewhere. While two white male scholars had begun the movement, a black businessman and former university regent, Ward Connerly, successfully led the charge for Prop 209. He became the head of the new institute.
"Every citizen should have an equal chance at the starting line of life's race," Mr. Connerly said in a statement. "But there should not be a guaranteed outcome in the race. If you discriminate for someone, you discriminate again someone else."
More than a quarter century after Bakke, the high court ruled again in favor of affirmative action, but with qualifications. In a 6-3 vote, it struck down the University of Michigan's undergraduate admissions program, in which students were evaluated on a 150-point scale that awarded 20 points for being a member of an underrepresented minority group. However, in a 5-4 ruling, the court upheld Michigan's law school program in which decisions were made by an admissions committee without a numerical scale.
Entering a new century, affirmative action policies of university admissions offices continue to come under legal and political assault. Occasionally, the courts sided with preferences. In 2000, a federal court ruling upholding the approach of the University of Michigan, mirroring an earlier decision about the University of Washington Law School, gave such programs new life. Both courts accepted a key contention of affirmative action advocates: that racial preferences in admissions enhance the educational experience not only of minority students but of whites, too.
That amplified an argument made by Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. in Regents v. Bakke: that mixing races in an educational environment is a compelling interest of the state, and thus constitutional.
Much of the justification for affirmative action in other arenas has concerned the righting of past wrongs, and thus faces a time limit: when the playing field has been leveled, such policies will no longer be needed. But if a mixed campus is considered in the state's interest because it improves everyone's education, then racial preferences would be defensible for years to come.
In May 2009, the selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court promises to open a new battle in the fight over affirmative action and other race-conscious remedies for patterns of inequality, with each side invoking the election of the first black president in support of its cause.
Judge Sotomayor, who would be the first Hispanic justice appointed to the high court, has championed the importance of considering race and ethnicity in admissions, hiring and even judicial selection at almost every stage of her career -- as a student activist at Princeton and at Yale Law School, as a board member of left-leaning Hispanic advocacy groups and as a federal judge arguing for diversity on the bench.
Conservatives say her strong identification with such race-based approaches to the law is perhaps the strongest argument against her confirmation, contending that her views put her outside an evolving consensus that such race-conscious public policy is growing obsolete.