Govt move to collect data on Maratha community students in colleges evokes mixed response

The demand for inclusion of Maratha community into Other Backward Class (OBC) category has reached the educational terrain. In what can be dubbed as the homework for taking a call on the demand for Maratha reservation, the state higher education department has been asked by the state government to collect stream-wise data of students enrollment from the Maratha community in institutes of higher learning for the past three academic years.

University of Pune (UoP) has asked all its affiliated colleges to furnish the details by December 28."We have asked affiliated colleges to furnish data about number of students of Maratha caste enrolled since 2010-11. As per the stipulated format the number of Maratha caste students along with other students enrolled for BA., B.Com, B.Sc, B.E. and B.Tech among other courses and those who have passed out is expected," UoP deputy registrar S J Bokephode said.

State higher education department officials said state universities have been asked to compile data related to Maratha students as per orders issued by the state General Administration Department. The state government has already constituted a committee headed by Industries Minister Narayan Rane to look into demand for Maratha reservation. The committee, few months back, held review meetings in different parts of the state and took note of different presentations made in favour of Maratha reservation and also against the demand.

The latest government drive has evoked mixed reactions.The decision has not gone down well with the unions and forums fighting for inclusion of Maratha community in OBC category. "The drive is a time-killing tactic. Even if just a few days remain for the Rane committee to submit its report, government has embarked upon an exercise that could take at least some weeks to complete," said Suresh Patil, state-level leader of Maratha Arakshan Sangharsha Samiti. Prakash Ambedkar, leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, one of the strong opponents of reservation, welcomed the drive. "The drive would serve as much-needed fact finding tool for Rane panel. The findings of the drive would prove contrary to demand for Maratha reservation," said Ambedkar, grandson of late B R Ambedkar.

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