Yesterday's Economics Times has a great article on affirmative action (in India) by Jamshed J. Irani. Following are slightly edited paragraphs from the article.
In the course of preparation of the CII report on "Concrete steps for affirmative action" - we realized that there was immediate need for two sets of interventions.
1. Employability: We realized that in spite of having the basic qualifications, many members of the scheduling tribes and scheduled castes were unable to find suitable jobs since they lacked the opportunity to learn good communication skills, ..., how to speak in public, how to conduct themselves in an interview, etc. These are soft skills, but very critical nevertheless.
2. Quality Education: The second was the universally accepted shortcoming which afflicts a large part of out young population irrespective of their caste status - quality education. In the long run, universal access to quality education would be the only solution to problems of social discrimination. Now this is an action, which lies largely in the government's domain. ... CII decided to provide scholarship support to students, who wish to pursue higher education, but would not be able to do so owning to severe economic limitations.
One other point made in the article is about gap between number of people joining the workforce and number of jobs available and helping/training entrepreneurs to create more jobs.
CII website has more information here.