DC Edit | Thorny quota for Marathas

Any extension of quotas, besides being subject to legal scrutiny, is bound to be contentious and basically unfair to other groups that may be similarly placed as the Marathas in Maharashtra.

There may be no arguing against the need for affirmative action to give a hand to those at the lowest rung of the discriminatory caste hierarchy. But we are close to passing 25 years in the new millennium, and this is the 75th year since the introduction in 1950 of reservation, avowedly for a limited period of 10 years, in government jobs and education institutions.

The Maharashtra government, under Eknath Shinde, was pressured by the clamour for this 10 per cent quota for Marathas, more so with the agitation of the prominent campaigner Manoj Jarange who wanted even more than this inclusive reservation, which the private sector should also implement.

Having already crossed the 50 per cent limit by caste — a line marked by the Supreme Court but observed in the breach as 23rd states including Maharashtra are over the 60 per cent limit, including the EOW quota of 10 per cent that is not limited by caste — the bill, which is the third attempt in a decade, may be bad enough in law, but worse in the denial of the same opportunity to many others and too politically convenient.

There is no doubt that the reservation system has played a significant part in the social landscape by its attempt to address historical inequalities. This is Maharashtra’s third attempt to mollify the uproar for a quota for an influential community whose contribution to the social, culture and economy of the state is beyond question. The difficulty is when or at what percentage mark does it stop, and which communities does it include or exclude.

Given the closeness to the polls and how polemical the government formation proved to be, it was on the cards that the ruling dispensation would venture to satisfy the Marathas. Elsewhere, there are many other castes and communities who have been fighting for long for quotas too — Agarwals, Jats, Khammas, Kapus, Kurmis, Lingayats, Patidars, Vanniyars — and the Maharashtra Bill may embolden then to press their claims, too.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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