In Shindi Khurd village of Maan taluka in Satara district, Maratha youths are finding it difficult to get married what with families from both nearby and far-off areas refusing their matrimonial proposals. Their “condition is so bad” they have to actually pay “dowry” in a bid to persuade the girl’s family agree to the marriage proposal. The principal reasons are: lack of employment or source of income and poor educational qualifications of these youths.
These are the findings of a survey conducted by the Bhumata Charitable Trust, Pune, headed by Budhajirao Mulik. The survey was conducted from 2015 to 2018. The trust is one of the organisations, which had submitted its report to the N G Gaikwad-led Backward Class Commission appointed by the state government. The report has been submitted to the state government but is yet to be tabled before the state legislature.
The commission’s chairman had also held discussions with Mulik, who is an agriculture expert and considered an authority on Maratha community status. “Gaikwad held lengthy discussions with Mulik on the social and educational status of the Maratha community,” said an associate of Mulik. When contacted, Mulik, however, refused to elaborate, saying that the commission’s report has not yet become public.
The Bhumata trust carried out the survey in Shindi Khurd to find out the social, economic and educational condition of the Maratha community. “The village has a large Maratha population. It was selected as a representative of several other villages where the condition of the Maratha community is no different,” said Priyanka Jagtap, who headed the survey team and spent her childhood in Shindi Khurd. She now lives in Lohegaon.
During the survey, the team found that of the 1,438 people in the village, 82 per cent belong to the Maratha community. “Close to 75 per cent of the Maratha men have got married after paying ‘dowry’ to the tune of Rs 1-2 lakh to the girl’s family. Families are generally reluctant to marry off their daughters in Shindi Khurd though it is one of the villages in Maan taluka which received good rainfall unlike other villages, which hardly receive any rainfall. Since families are wary of Shindi Khurd, the impoverished villagers offer money for marriage…,” said Jagtap, who is preparing for her MPSC exam. Most of the girls who married to Shindi Khurd men are from Marathwada.
Even giving “dowry” is not enough for the Maratha men to get married here. “Marathas belong to the upper caste and do everything possible to get a girl from their own community. But given their current status, especially in villages like Shindi Khurd, they are forced to get a tribal girl as their daughter-in-law. They have no option as tribal girls don’t hassle them for dowry,” she said.
The marriages here are a hush hush affair. They are held in temples with few guests. “Nobody wants to reveal that their daughter-in-law is a tribal…,” the survey revealed.
The only zilla parishad school in the village is also on the verge of closure. From classes I to X, it has only 50 students. “This is because at least 40 per cent of the village youths have remained unmarried and, therefore, the number of children going to school has dwindled. The ZP rules say there should be a minimum number of students so that a school can be run in the village. Here the number is going down every year and the school is likely to be closed down soon,” Jagtap said.
On the status of graduate youths, the survey revealed that of the 50 women, only three to four have completed their graduation. And only two to three men are graduates. “The youths are neither well-educated nor do they have proper jobs. They end up working as farm labourers, painter’s job or work as construction labourers,” it added.
Unlike males, women from the village do not face much problem in getting married, except widows and divorces. The families here have an average monthly income of Rs 2,000. “Though it rains in Shindi Khurd, it is not enough to carry out agriculture activities. As a result, the families which rely heavily on their farms have little yield every season,” the survey stated.