What is the background of the argument for Maratha reservations?
After the Mandal Commission report recommendations were implemented, there was a demand for including the Maratha, Kunbi community into the fold of the Other Backward Caste (OBC) reservations. After Indira Sahani became the new head of the State Backward Class Commission, the reservations were granted to Kunbis, but those who had certificates with caste stated as Maratha, which is also synonymous with Kunbi, faced a problem.
The Commission, when asked to reanalyse the recommendations to include Marathas, gave an unfavourable report. The government then appointed a committee under Narayan Rane, known as the Rane committee, which analysed the Bapat Commission Report and gave a report in favour of the Maratha demand, after which a GR for 16 pc reservations was taken out and during the next government an act was passed.
What has prevented the implementation of the reservations?
The act was stayed as inclusion of Marathas would take the percentage of reservations over 50 pc. The 50 pc limit is based on interpretation and not specific ceiling. Now the SBC Commission is supposed to examine the data, conduct public hearings, verify the level of representation in government and semi-government undertakings and give an indication of the social backwardness of the Maratha community. Another hurdle is that the reservations of OBC castes cannot be compromised to make way for the huge population of the Maratha community.
What is behind the desperation of the Maratha community to achieve this relief?
The Maratha community is an agrarian community. It used to be at the centre of the rural economy. But after implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations and the Land Ceiling Act, the social and economic status of the community lowered and the progress of the community was hit. The caste data too is almost a century old and the status of the castes should be reevaluated in today’s times.
There is a feeling that the agitations are against a Bramhin chief minister and in view of 2019 elections.
These demands have been in place for the last two decades. These are not about a specific government or chief minister. It is a long drawn struggle for a community’s progress. These demands were there in the Congress times too and now before the BJP government . They should not be looked at in terms of 2019. And many a times, governments respond to pressure of impending elections, so why not use it as a pressure tactic?
So what are the solutions that the government can approach to solve the crisis?
The Mandal Commission allotted 32 pc reservations to the OBC castes. The list of castes included was supposed to be evaluated every decade and the castes which have seen alleviation were supposed to taken out of the list to make space for other castes which need the cover. But since 1995, no such evaluation has been done. The 32 pc national quota has been adopted as it is, thus reducing the space for Marathas to get reservations. The OBC categorisation needs to be revisited and a roster technique needs to be adopted. The state should carry out the required procedures to certify the Maratha community as Socially Backward Caste (SBC).