MH-CET: Only 7.6% apply under SEBC quota for engg, pharma, agri
While the state government has reserved 16% of seats in educational institutes for Marathas under the newly-created socially and educationally backward caste (SEBC) category, only 7.6% of the students who have applied for engineering, pharmacy and agriculture courses this year belong to this category.
Data from the state common entrance test (CET) cell shows that of 4.13 lakh students who registered for MH-CET, the entrance examination for undergraduate courses in the three disciplines, 31,483 applied under SEBC quota. On the other hand, the proportion of candidates belonging to other backward castes (OBC) is around 27.2%, much higher than the 19% seats reserved for them.
The SEBC reservation, introduced by the state government in November 2018, and the Centre’s 10% quota for students from economically weaker sections (EWS) have become contentious issues with general category students filing multiple petitions opposing the two quotas in the Supreme Court (SC) and Bombay high court (HC). The arguments in the petitions challenging the Maratha reservation concluded in the Bombay high court (HC) last month and a bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre is expected to give its judgment soon.
According to activist Balasaheb Sarate, who had filed a petition in HC requesting reservation for the Maratha community, poor educational status among Marathas and delays in issuing caste validity certificates (CVCs) are among the reasons for relatively few SEBC applicants. “Many students still don’t have CVCs as there was a delay in declaration of Maratha reservation,” he said. However, he reiterated the need for this quota. “The data indicates that Maratha students are lagging behind in education,” Sarate said.
Others argue that the lower proportion of Maratha applicants shows that the 16% quota for them in educational institutes is higher than their share in the population and that this is affecting other students. “The opportunities for open category students are being killed. Many students may opt to pursue education in other states,” said Rajesh Jain, a member of Parents Association of Medical Students, Maharashtra.
The state has an overall intake of 14,557 seats for agriculture courses for the upcoming academic year of 2019-20. The overall intake for engineering and pharmacy courses last year was 1.3 lakh and 17,188, respectively. The numbers are likely to vary marginally next year.
Earlier in March, Maharashtra decided to restrict reservation for the SEBC to 8% of the total intake for postgraduate medical and dental courses in government-run colleges, making more seats available for general category students.