Maratha Reservation Demand

July 26, 2018
7 months

Why in news?

Maratha community in Maharashtra is holding aggressive protests demanding reservation.

What is Maratha protests all about?

  • Quotas for Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 33 per cent of the state’s population, has been a hugely contentious issue.
  • The Marathas began to agitate for their demands mainly reservations for the community in jobs and education, less than two years ago.
  • Through 2016-2017, the protests took the form of tens of thousands of people marching in silence, not only staying away from violence but also cleaning up the streets after themselves.
  • The aim of their protests and agitation is to force the government to act decisively on its long-pending demands. 
  • For the last four-five days, Maharashtra is witnessing sporadic incidents of violence like torching of buses, tyres mainly in Marathwada, western Maharashtra and Konkan regions.

What are the demands of Marathas community?

  • Referring to a study of farmers’ suicides in 2014-16, the affidavit said nearly 78% of suicides had taken place in Marathwada and Vidarbha, and “most” of the victims were Marathas.
  • There are also extraordinary circumstances including displacement, high illiteracy faced by the community.
  • Maratha leaders demand the government to give them OBC status and not reservation because any reservation, beyond the existing 50 per cent, would be difficult to implement.
  • Destruction of environment resources due to climate change, and consequent suicides by farmers also justifies reservations of the community beyond the 50% ceiling.
  • Apart from this the community also demands for hostels for Maratha students in every district, and interest-free loans for the economically backward members of the community.

What is government’s plan on Maratha reservation?

  • The state government responded the protesters that it would provide 16 per cent reservation in government jobs to the Maratha community.
  • State administration said a recruitment drive would be taken up once Maratha reservation gets constitutional and legal sanction.
  • Apart from this the government is waiting for the consent of the Backward Class Commission which is already considering the proposal to accord OBC status to Marathas.

What are the challenges in resolving this issue?

  • Delayed Process - It is to be clear that any government do not have any right to declare reservation, it has to be done by the Backward Class Commission, the High Court and the government.
  • But there is a cap on the reservation to be given by a state government. The Constitution mandates that there should be an upper limit of 50 per cent on reservation.
  • The Backward Commission was currently going around the state to find out the social and economic status of Marathas.
  • However, the commission is going very slow in its job which has sparked apprehension that the community’s demand will remain pending again
  • Judicial Supremacy - Bombay High Court has twice rejected a proposed quota for Marathas, striking down an ordinance issued by the earlier Congress-NCP government.
  • Cascading Effects - On the other hand, if the Marathas are granted OBC status, they would qualify for the existing OBC quotas.
  • Vote bank Politics - The community claims that the government need not wait for the commission to finalise its report.
  • This means the government will be get a chance to play vote bank politics by promising quota for the community during election campaigning.
  • Lack of cause and leadership - The Maratha mobilisation is linked to the continuing agrarian crisis in Maharashtra, for which there is no quick fix.
  • Their insecurities are not fundamentally different from those of other dominant castes such as Patels, Gujjars and Jats, which have triggered shows of assertion elsewhere, too.
  • There is no single leadership in the community, due to this the government does not know who in the Maratha leadership to talk to.


Source: Indian Express

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