Among those taking part in the quota protests by the Maratha community in Hingoli is Sunita Manikrao More (49), a homemaker from an upper middleclass Maratha family.
She says what spurred her to take part in the protests was the disappointment over his son’s failure to get admission into a medical college because of the quota system despite scoring reasonably well in NEET after two years of preparation. “Both my sons, upset with the quota system, gave up on medical studies. Instead, they pursued business management and started a shop in Hingoli,” she says.
More is not the only woman taking part in the protests. Across the Marathawada region, there is a growing presence of Maratha women from middleclass families in the quota agitation.
Like her, Indu Rajkumar Dhadse (42) is also taking part in the protests. Dhadse is a mother of two sons. The elder one went to Kota in Rajasthan to prepare for the medical entrance, scored well but did not get admission because of the quota system, she says.
Unlike in the past where the majority of Maratha families who inherited ancestral land preferred pursuing agriculture and allied activities, generation next wants job security. Nuclear families leading to division of land combined with youths disinterested in agriculture have compounded the problems for the community. An average land holding in an upper middleclass Maratha family has come down from 100 acres to 10-15 acres.
Several Maratha women activists, who are taking part in the protests, said, “At present, the focus is on getting reservation. Our top priority is to ensure Marathas get same benefits as OBC in education and jobs.”