UPSC Mains 2019: Maratha reservation: The issue is far from over

Marathas in Maharashtra Government

 

Topic: Maratha reservation: The issue is far from over

Topic in Syllabus : GS Paper 2 : Indian Polity

Maratha reservation

Context:

The Maharashtra government has accepted the State Backward Class Commission’s report and decided to give quota in jobs, and educational institutes to the Maratha community, Chief Minister said.

 

More about on news:

  • The reservation will be granted to the community under a new category called ‘Socially and Educationally Backward Class’ (SEBC) as per the recommendation of the commission, he said.
  • The politically dominant Maratha community constitutes over 30 per cent of the state’s population.
  • The state cabinet has accepted the backward class commission’s report for Maratha reservation
  • Quantum of reservation will be fixed by the cabinet sub-committee assigned to chalk out technical aspects of the bill (granting quota) which will be tabled in the coming session
  • After the commission submitted its report to the government earlier this week, Fadnavis had hinted that the demand for quota would be fulfilled.
  • The Maratha community has been demanding a quota for a long time and its agitation for the same in July and August this year had taken a violent turn.
  • According to government sources, the commission’s report has said that Marathas are a “socially and educationally backward class of citizens” with minuscule representation in government and semi-government services.

 

Who are the Marathas?

  • The Marathas are a group of castes comprising of peasants, landowners and warriors.
  • While the top layer of the Marathas—with surnames like Deshmukh, Bhonsle, More, Shirke, Jadhav—are the Kshatriyas (warriors), the rest belong to a predominantly agrarian sub-caste called Kunbi.
  • However, this fine demarcation between the Kshatriya Marathas and the Kunbis held true only until the Maratha Empire existed.
  • In contemporary Maharashtra, a majority of Marathas are engaged in agriculture.

Marathas in Maharashtra Government

 

Maratha dynasties:

  • Most Marathas are Marathi-speaking but not all Marathi-speaking people are Marathas.
  • The Maratha conquests in Western, North, and South India in the 17th and 18th centuries led to the migration of large sections of the Maratha population into those parts and also established a host of Maratha dynasties across the country.
  • The Gaekwad dynasty which ruled the Baroda princely state, the Scindias (Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia is a direct descendant), and Bhonsles of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, are examples of powerful Maratha dynasties that have settled outside Maharashtra.

 

Caste demography:

  • Since the last caste census was undertaken in 1931, only various guesstimates are available on the numerical strength of the Maratha-Kunbi, which is estimated to range from anywhere between 28% and up to half of the state’s population.
  • Even at the more modest level of 28%, Marathas would still be the single largest dominant caste in India.
  • In the past 58 years, Maratha-Kunbi chief ministers have been at the helm in the state for 31 years. However, this creamy layer of the Marathas is not entirely representative of the community, since an overwhelming proportion of Maharashtra’s 13.7 million farmers are Marathas.
  • With 78% of those farmers holding land that is less than 2 hectares in size, productivity is low and prolonged periods of agrarian stress can be hard to recover from.
  • The quintessential Maratha who is on streets demanding quota is from this agrarian background.
  • At present, the total reservation in Maharashtra is 52 per cent 13 per cent for Scheduled Castes, 7 per cent for Scheduled Tribes, 19 per cent for Other Backward Classes, 2 per cent for Special Backward Classes, 3 per cent for Vimukta Jati, 2.5 per cent for Nomadic Tribe-B, 3.5 per cent for Nomadic Tribe-C (Dhangar) and 2 per cent for Nomadic Tribe-D (Vanjari).

 

Maratha Reservations Issue: A Timeline:

  • 25 June, 2014: The Congress-NCP Democratic Front government, then headed by Prithviraj Chavan, approves a proposal to reserve 16% of government jobs and seats in educational institutions for Marathas and 5% for Muslims.
  • 31 October, 2014: Devendra Fadnavis sworn in CM of Maharashtra of BJP government with indirect support of NCP
  • 5 December, 2014: Shiv Sena joins the BJP government, oers stability
  • 14 November, 2014: Bombay High Court stays the decision of the previous Democratic Front government to provide 16 per cent reservations to Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions.
  • 15 November, 2014: BJP-Sena government decides to move Supreme Court
  • 18 December, 2014: Supreme Court refuses to vacate the Bombay High Court’s interim order staying reservation for Maratha community in public employment in Maharashtra.
  • 6 January, 2015: Government decides to tender additional information in the Bombay High Court for supporting reservations to Marathas
  • 13 July, 2016: Rape and murder of a Maratha girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district that fuels the demand of rights of the community
  • 9 August, 2016: First Maratha Kranti Morcha held in Aurangabad
  • 6 November, 2016: Maratha bike rally held in Mumbai
  • 20 November, 2016: Maratha morcha held in New Delhi
  • 5 December 2016: Maharashtra government files an aidavit to justify the reservation for Marathas as legal and that it did not violate constitutional provisions.
  • 14 December, 2016: Maratha morcha held in Nagpur when the winter session of Maharashtra legislature was in progress
  • 17 July, 2018: Maratha associations meet in Pandharpur, decides not to allow CM Devendra Fadnavis to hold puja of Lord Vitthal-Rukmini on ashadi ekadashi on 23 July
  • 22 July, 2018: CM cancels trip to Pandharpur, says his govt supports demand for reservation to Maratha but ball in court
  • 23 July, 2018: Youth jumps into Godavari River in Aurangabad to demand reservation to Maratha community.

 

Why Maratha reservation agitation is raging now?

  • Maratha groups and outfits demanding reservation in jobs and education for the community largely remained peaceful for three years.
  • But in the past few months, they upped their ante to put pressure on the incumbent Devendra Fadnavis government, which will seek re-election in little over a year’s time from now.
  • Maratha reservation agitation seems to have upset Fadnavis government’s plan. The government has planned a massive recruitment drive for jobs in state government offices.
  • Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s office announced in May that 72,000 government jobs would be up for grabs in Maharashtra in 2018 and 2019.
  • Half of those jobs or roughly 36,000 vacancies are to be filled, according to the official release, by the end of 2018 and the rest in 2019. The first notification for massive recruitment in Maharashtra government offices was expected to be put out by the end of July.
  • Incidentally, movements among the Maratha quota stir groups became more pronounced as the date for issue of notification drew closer. The month of July saw several phases of protests demanding reservation for Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions.
  • A big chunk of these jobs are understood to be up for grabs in agriculture and rural development departments. The Fadnavis government’s move is aimed at gaining popular goodwill going into election next year and also to strengthen rural governance.
  • The decision for the massive recruitment drive was a deviation from the government’s decision taken in 2015, when it had virtually banned creation of new posts and restricted recruitment to keep salary bill in check. But lifting a freeze on recruitment brought with it a statewide Maratha agitation for reservation in jobs.
  • ural development department will provide maximum 11,000 jobs followed by health (10,500), home department (7,000) and agriculture and allied sectors (over 3,700).
  • Marathas constitute around 30 per cent of the population of Maharashtra. In rural areas, Marathas have been the dominant farming community. But Maharashtra has seen prolonged rural and farm distress forcing the youth of all communities including Marathas to look for other economic avenues.
  • The loan waiver in Maharashtra has not yet seen the desired results with farm sector still reeling under acute pressure. Marathas are more organised than several other caste groups.
  • The Maratha Kranti Morcha is spearheading the reservation agitation. It launched a jail bharo andolan (court arrest movement) today in Maharashtra. The Maratha Kranti Morcha has threatened to intensify Maratha quota agitation further.
  • The mega job opportunities in the government sector seem to have given a shot in the arm of Maratha groups to press for a demand that has been rejected by at least three government panels including Mandal Commission and struck down by judiciary once.

 

Maharashtra govt passes Maratha Reservation Bill:

  • The BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra passed the Maratha Reservation Bill on recently. The decision was taken at the State Cabinet meeting to provide reservations beyond 50 per cent.
  • The government has made the decision based on the recommendations of the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission, whose report was submitted
  • Maharashtra government wants to implement the Tamil Nadu government’s pattern of providing reservations in government jobs and educational institutions beyond 50 per cent, but such a decision is bound to challenge by other castes, who will get negatively affected by State government decision
  • The State Government has taken such a major decision based on the forthcoming election in the States and 2019 general election. The problems of the Maratha community are closely associated with economic problems and lack of growth in the agriculture sector.
  • The government has taken the decision to create the new category for Marathas citing ‘extraordinary circumstance’ so that rights of neither Other Backward Classes (OBCs) nor Marathas are affected.
  • It is believed that the Commission recommended that based on the 25 parameters it had set for the study, the community can be regarded as “backward.” The Commission had been tasked to submit a report on the social and economic conditions of the Marathas.

 

Constitutional provision related to reservation:

  • Under Article 15 (3) of the Constitution, any special provision may be made for women and children belonging to all social groups transcending caste, religion etc., for their advancement and welfarein all fields.
  • Under Article 15 (4), special provisions may be made for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward class and for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. The “advancement” meant here is again in any field. This sub-clause (4) of Article 15 was inserted by an amendment in 1951.
  • Article 16 (4) permits the state to make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class, which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under it.
  • The expression “backward class” in this sub-clause is interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean “socially and educationally backward” as is specifically mentioned in the sub-clause (4) added later to Article 15.
  • Article 46 directs the state to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the “weaker sections of the people”, particularly of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and also directs the state “to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation”.
  • Article 335 states that the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration in the making of appointments to the services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union and of a State.