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Maratha Reservation issue

Topic covered:

  1. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Maratha Reservation issue


What to study?

For prelims and mains: provisions in regard to reservations in India, issues present, need for revamping the policy.

Context: The Bombay High Court has upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for the Maratha community in education and government jobs in Maharashtra, but directed that it be slashed from the present 16 per cent to 12 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.



The Marathas who are almost one-third of Maharashtra’s population are not a homogeneous community. Historically, they evolved from the farming caste of Kunbis who took to military service in medieval times and started assuming a separate identity for themselves. Even then they claimed hierarchy of 96 clans.

But the real differentiation has come through the post-independence development process, creating classes within the caste:

  1. A tiny but powerful section of elites that came to have control over cooperatives of sugar, banks, educational institutions, factories and politics, called gadhivarcha (topmost strata) Maratha.
  2. The next section comprising owners of land, distribution agencies, transporters, contracting firms, and those controlling secondary cooperative societies, is the wadyavarcha (well-off strata) Maratha.
  3. The rest of the population of Marathas comprising small farmers is the wadivarcha (lower strata) Maratha.


Need for reservations:

  • Reservation in India is the process of facilitating people in education, scholarship, jobs etc that were faced historical injustice.
  • Reservation is a form of quota-based affirmative action. Reservation is governed by constitutional laws, statutory laws, and local rules and regulations.
  • The system of reservation in India comprises a series of measures, such as reserving access to seats in the various legislatures, to government jobs, and to enrolment in higher educational institutions.
  • The reservation is undertaken to address the historic oppression, inequality and discriminationfaced by those communities and to give these communities a place. It is intended to realise the promise of equality enshrined in the Constitution.
  • The primary objective of the reservation system in India is to enhance the social and educational status of underprivileged communities and thus improve their lives.


Why there is a need to reexamine reservation policy?

  • Unlike in the late Sixties and again in the late Eighties, when the reservation discourse originated in a deep sense of unfairness of the social system, today’s reservation discourse draws its strength from unfair development policies.
  • Reservation is increasingly seen as a remedy for the adverse effects of ill-thought out development policies.
  • Reservation is also called ‘Discrimination in Reverse’ or Reverse Discrimination. This terminology connotes that reservation, which works as a protection to the reserved categories i.e. scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, acts as a reverse discrimination against the upper castes.
  • For political parties reservation discourse is convenient because it allows them to keep subscribing to the consensus over economic policies, avoiding a critical approach to the root causes of the problem.


What needs to be done?

  • The government will have to expand the economic aspect and create fresh opportunities so that people, especially young people, who leave agriculture are absorbed in non-farm sectors.
  • It is time that India made a critical assessment of its affirmative action programmes.
  • The government should consider the economic, political and social wellbeing of the community and make a balanced decision.
  • Problems of these castes should be addressed through government schemes and programmes.
  • Progressive steps should be taken to ensure that poorer section among the backward communities get the benefit of reservation system.
  • The policy of reservation should be gradually phased out after it serves its purpose.


Sources: the Hindu.