Days after the state legislature passed a Bill providing 16 per cent reservation to Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions, the Brahmin community in the state, while not seeking reservation, has demanded a survey to find out how many of them are living in poverty.
“It is widely believed that Brahmins are well-to-do. That is not true. Almost 60-70 per cent Brahmins are poor, especially those living in rural areas,” said Anand Dave, president of Pune district unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Brahman Mahasangh. The mahasangh said that Brahmins make up 8-9 per cent of the state population, which is around 90 lakh.
Stating that they were not pressing for reservation, Dave said that they were only asking for a survey of the community to find out its social and economic status.
“The survey will clear the picture regarding the economic status of the Brahmin community. We are not seeking a survey on educational status. Education levels in the community are high, but financially they are not sound. Majority of Brahmins are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
Dave said that the government should set up a backward class commission or any other committee to understand the ground reality. “The commission should find out the financial status of the Brahmins. State Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil on Saturday promised that the government would look into the demands of the Brahmin community. We will soon meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to press for our demand,” he said.
If the survey proves that the majority of people in the Brahmin community are poor, will the community then seek reservation? “Not necessarily,” said Mayuresh Argade, Pune city president of the mahasangh.
“It is not important that the Brahmin community too should get reservation. We are not pressing for it. We are seeking concession in fees for our students, jobs for unemployed youths and honorarium for ‘purohits’,” said Dave, adding that there were several ways in which the government could help the poor among the community.
Highlighting the travails of purhoits, Dave said, “Purohits perform a significant role in every household of Maharashtra, be it during funerals, marriages, house-warming ceremonies or other auspicious occasions. But they hardly get anything. Many are old and ailing. In Maharashtra, over 1.25 lakh purhoits are rendering yeoman’s service, but in return get nothing. We are seeking honorarium of Rs 5,000 per month from the state government,” he said.