Mumbai : The Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission in its report has said that Marathas and Kunbis are one and the same community.
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As the Kunbis are already included in the Other Backward Class (OBC), the Marathas too should have been categorised as a Backward Class long ago, it said.
The nine-member commission headed by retired Justice M G Gaikwad had submitted its report on November 2018.
On the basis of it, the state legislature on November 30, 2018, passed a bill giving 16 per cent quota in government jobs and education to the Marathas, declared as a “socially and educationally backward class”.
The report was on Tuesday given to the petitioners who have moved the Bombay High Court challenging the decision to grant the reservation.
In April 1942, a government resolution (GR) was issued by the then government of Bombay with a list of Backward Classes which included the Maratha community, the report said.
“The GR included the Maratha caste as intermediate class for the purpose of education only. Thus the reservation for Maratha caste was for the first time given in the year 1942 for education purposes only,” it said.
However, in 1950, the central government prepared a list of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Communities.
“The caste, Maratha, which was appearing in the 1942 list disappeared from the list of Other Backward Communities prepared by the Government of India,” the report said, adding that in 1966, the state government prepared a modified list by which the Kunbi caste was included in the OBC.
“The commission is of the considered and firm opinion that the Maratha and the Kunbi are not separate castes, but they are one and same caste that is Kunbi,” it said.
The Kunbis and Marathas being one and the same, the Maratha community should have been and should be included in the list of Other Backward Classes, it said.
Citing information procured from the state Directorate of Archives, the report said, “The Maratha is not a caste in itself but consists of Marathi-speaking people. The caste of such people is Kunbi, who were agriculturists.”
The Maratha community is socially, economically and educationally backward so as to hold it a ‘Backward Class’, it said.
The report also took note of high number of suicides among Maratha farmers.
“As per the reports submitted by the collectors and commissioners, the percentage of Maratha farmers committing suicide is much more,” it said.
According to the report, between 2013 to 2018, there were 13,368 farmer suicides in the state, of which 23.56 per cent suicides were of Maratha farmers and 19.34 per cent were of Kunbi farmers.
“From this statistic, it can be inferred that the distress and frustration of the Maratha community is to such an extent that they are forced to commit suicide. It shows that they are not respected in the society and as such they feel that their prestige is gone,” the commission said in the report.
The percentage of Marathas engaged in agriculture too is much higher compared to other castes, it said.
“Maratha caste and persons from other castes engaged in and depending on agriculture are victims of natural calamities. Except the Marathas, all other such castes are included in the list of Backward Classes… So the Maratha caste should not have been an exception,” the panel said.