Rajiv Goswami, who grabbed the headlines when he attempted self-immolation to protest against the Mandal Commission's recommendations in 1990, died at a private hospital in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old, who is survived by his wife and two children, was suffering from liver problems and was in hospital since February 13, family sources said.
Doctors attributed his death to the failure of liver and kidneys, they said.
Goswami's action in 1990 had sparked a series of self-immolations by college students and led to a formidable movement against job reservations for backward castes, as recommended by the Mandal Commission.
He was virtually jobless since the agitation and was dependent on his parents, who live abroad.