The Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission has concluded that the Maratha community is socio-economically backward, thus clearing its way for quotas in government jobs and education. In its report submitted to the state government Thursday, the commission, headed by retired Justice M G Gaikwad, has said that the Maratha community’s backwardness has been well established socially, economically and educationally. The Marathas constitute 33 per cent of the state population and have been, politically, a dominant class for over six decades. The report said that Maratha backwardness meets all the parameters analysed through 45,000 families and over 2 lakh recommendations received.
This makes the community eligible for the “backward class status” which is Constitutionally mandatory for reservation, the report said. According to the report, the percentage of Marathas below poverty line was 37.28 per cent, higher than the 25 per cent base; the percentage of those with small and marginal land-holdings among Marathas was 62.78 per cent, much higher than the base 48.25 per cent which is considered for social-economic backwardness.
If more than 30 per cent families live in “kachcha houses” (mud houses), the community is considered socially backward. In the case of Marathas, this was up to 60 to 65 per cent.
The grading for education (post Class X and Class XII) also showed Marathas lagged behind the national average literacy index. The community registered the highest number of suicides, especially in the agriculture sector. This was considered an important aspect of the socio-economic crisis in the community.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “In December 2018, it will be time for celebrations as Marathas’ long pending demand for reservation will be implemented.” The constitutional process for (the report’s) execution will be completed by November end, he said.
Earlier, state Chief Secretary D K Jain, who received the report from the commission, said, “The report will be studied and discussed in the Cabinet for further action.”
Since existing reservation to SC. ST, OBC and VJNT (Vimukta Jati and Nomadic tribes) together constitute 49 per cent, the government will have to use the legislation route to accommodate the 16 per cent demand of the Marathas.
Noted scholar Sadanand More said: “If the commission findings show Marathas are backward, it removes the biggest hurdle in way of reservation. The government can go ahead with Maratha quota.”
He added: “Although they (Marathas) have been a ruling and dominant class, power and prosperity are confined to limited families.”
Said a senior Cabinet minister on the condition that he not be named: “The government is likely to provide a special category to give quota to Marathas. Another aspect which is under consideration is to expand the scope of existing OBCs from 27 per cent to accommodate Marathas.”
The contours of the legislation will take shape after consultations with legal and Constitutional experts and state legislators, he said. Although the Marathas have demanded quotas for two decades, their campaign gained momentum since July 2016 following the Maratha Kranti Morcha taking to the street through 58 silent rallies.