Days after the Maharashtra 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 the number of people in the community living in poverty.
“It is widely believed that people from the Brahmin community 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 Maharashtra’s population, which is around 90 lakh.
Stating that they were not pressing for reservation in jobs and education, 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, more so those living in rural parts of the state, are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
Dave said that the state government should set up a Backward Class Commission or any other commission to understand the ground reality as far as the Brahmin community was concerned. “The commission should find out the financial status of people of the community. 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 ‘purhoits’,” 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.
Dave and Argade said that meritorious students from the community have been hit badly. “A meritorious student has to pay a fee of Rs 1 lakh for securing admission despite the efforts he or she has taken. Whereas those not so meritorious easily get admission and pay much less, which too is refunded…,” they said. “Everyone is struggling to look after their families. At the end of the month, people are
left with virtually ‘zero salary’ as they have to pay EMIs, education fees, meet household expenses, look after ailing parents,” Dave said, underlining the fact that the so-called rich Brahmins are no longer rich even in cities like Pune.