The Maharashtra government Wednesday announced sops for Marathas in the fields of education and employment in a bid to placate the community agitating for the last one year. Holding protests across the state since August 2016, the community chose to take out its 58th and last silent rally or ‘muk-morcha’ in Mumbai Wednesday, demanding among other things reservation in education and employment, and bringing traffic in parts of the city to a standstill. With the matter of reservation still pending in court, the government decided to cover the two sectors by offering Rs 800-crore sops through administrative means.
CM Devendra Fadnavis said, “The financial incentives, which were confined to 35 subjects under the Rahashri Shahu Maharaj Yojana, will now be extended to 605 new courses.” The scope of the scheme, which provides 50 per cent concession in fees, has been expanded to benefit more Maratha students pursuing higher and professional studies. The decision will cost the government Rs 600 crore annually. With this decision, the Marathas will now get all the educational benefits hitherto enjoyed by OBC communities. The government has also removed the criterion of 60 per cent cut-off marks mandatory until now to avail the benefits.
On Wednesday, the government also sanctioned a grant of Rs 5 crore for each district to set up hostels for students. The CM said, “We are going to impart skill training to 3 lakh children from poor Maratha farmers’ families under the Annabhau Sathe Arthik Mahamandal. The government has provided a Rs 200-crore budget.” To promote self-entrepreneurship, the government will extend zero-interest loans of Rs 10 lakh each to eligible individuals. The interest amount will be borne by the state.