#MarathaReservations: Empirical evidence on the status of the Marathas
The Devendra Fadnavis government's announcement that the Maratha community would soon get reservations in educational institutes and government jobs in Maharashtra is a contentious one, but also one that requires a nuanced understanding. In this article, we examine what empirical evidence and socio-economic indicators reveal about the status of the Maratha community in the domains of wealth, education, employment, and political power.
The empirical evidence presented in the following sections is based on studies in the journal Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), and based on analyses conducted by other publications including LiveMint and the New Indian Express.
In terms of per capita consumption expenditure (PCCE), data shows that the Maratha community only lags behind non-Maratha Brahmins in Maharashtra, are slightly better off than other forward castes, and OBCs, and significantly better off than non-Maratha SCs/STs. This indicates that the Maratha community, as a whole, has a higher purchasing power than most other communities in Maharashtra, save for the Brahmins.
In terms of chances of being classified as poor, data reveals that incidence of poverty among the Maratha community is higher than that among non-Maratha Brahmins, but almost similar to other forward castes and OBCs. In comparison to the non-Maratha SCs and STs, incidence of poverty among Marathas is considerably lower, thereby indicating that Marathas are not as economically disadvantaged as SCs and STs.
In terms of land ownership, Marathas are more likely than any other community in Maharashtra to own land, and according to different reports, own somewhere between 75-80% of all land in Maharashtra. This, of course, is due to the fact that the Marathas have traditionally been a warrior-agricultural class, and their ownership of agricultural land goes back generations.
That said, Marathas relatively lag behind in terms of education. Marathas have an average of 6.58 years of education, more than two years lower than average years of education Brahmins receive. However, the educational attainment of Marathas is almost similar to those of other forward castes and OBCs, and almost 1.5 years more than average years of education of SCs and STs.
In terms of the probability of holding a government job, the Marathas have a higher chance of landing a government job than other forward castes and OBCs. In comparison to Brahmins and SCs and STs, Marathas have an almost equal probability of getting government jobs. This is in spite of not having reservations in government jobs.
In terms of political power, and report by the New Indian Express reveals that over 60% of all MLAs in Maharashtra since 1962 have come from the Maratha community. Additionally, 12 out of Maharashtra's 18 Chief Ministers thus far have come from the Maratha community. Thus, in terms of political power, Marathas are not disadvantaged, but rather, very advantaged.
Yet, while the aforementioned data reveals that the Marathas are dominant in several ways, it should be noted that the data presented is an aggregation and does not reveal disparities between elites and non-elites within the Maratha community. That said, this empirical evidence raises questions about the criteria on which the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) classified the Marathas as backward. However, till such time the MSBCC report's findings are made public, we are unlikely to have answers to such questions.