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Many countries besides the United States have affirmative action programs that apply to caste or nationality.

In India, for example, there have been programs for decades that give educational preference to persons sometimes called "untouchables" or "outcastes." In other nations there have been official preferences for ethnic groups that are poorly represented in certain kinds of jobs, in business, or in higher education. In many cases these policies are controversial. Some argue that they are the way to overcome long standing problems. Critics argue that they create hostility and conflict.