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Sunday 10 July 2011

Poona Pact and Its Agreement

A Portrait depicting Dr B R Ambedkar signing on Poona Pact 
What is Poona Pact ?

During the first Round Table Conference, when Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar favoured the move of the British Government to provide separate electorate for the oppressed classes (Dalit), Gandhi strongly opposed it on the plea that the move would give power to the oppressed classes (Dalit). He went for an indefinite hunger strike from September 20, 1932 against the decision of the then British Prime Minister J.Ramsay MacDonald granting communal award to the depressed classes in the constitution for governance of British India.

In view of the mass upsurge generated in the country to save the life of Gandhi, Ambedkar was compelled to soften his stand. A compromise between the leaders of caste Hindu and the depressed classes was reached on September 24,1932, popularly known as Poona Pact. The resolution announced in a public meeting on September 25 in Bombay confirmed -" henceforth, amongst Hindus no one shall be regarded as an untouchable by reason of his birth and they will have the same rights in all the social institutions as the other Hindus have". This landmark resolution in the history of the Dalit movement in India subsequently formed the basis for giving due share to Dalits in the political empowerment of Indian people in a democratic Indian polity.

Text of Agreement[1]

The following is the text of the agreement arrived at between leaders acting on behalf of the Depressed Classes and of the rest of the community, regarding the representation of the Depressed Classes in the legislatures and certain other matters affecting their welfare.

  1.  There shall be seats reserved for the Depressed Classes out of general electorate seats in the provincial legislatures as follows: - Madras 30; Bombay with Sind 25; Punjab 8; Bihar and Orissa 18; Central Provinces 20; Assam 7; Bengal 30; United Provinces 20. Total 148. These figures are based on the Prime Minister's (British) decision.
  2.  Election to these seats shall be by joint electorates subject, however, to the following procedure All members of the Depressed Classes registered in the general electoral roll of a constituency will form an electoral college which will elect a panel of tour candidates belonging to the Depressed Classes for each of such reserved seats by the method of the single vote and four persons getting the highest number of votes in such primary elections shall be the candidates for election by the general electorate.
  3. The representation of the Depressed Classes in the Central Legislature shall likewise be on the principle of joint electorates and reserved seats by the method of primary election in the manner provided for in clause above for their representation in the provincial legislatures.
  4. Central Legislature
  5. In the Central Legislature 18 per cent of the seats allotted to the general electorate for British India in the said legislature shall he reserved for the Depressed Classes.
  6. The system of primary election to a panel of candidates for election to the Central and Provincial Legislatures as i herein-before mentioned shall come to an end after the first ten years, unless terminated sooner by mutual agreement under the provision of clause 6 below.
  7. The system of representation of Depressed Classes by reserved seats in the Provincial and Central Legislatures as provided for in clauses (1) and (4) shall continue until determined otherwise by mutual agreement between the communities concerned in this settlement.
  8. The Franchise for the Central and Provincial Legislatures of the Depressed Classes shall be as indicated, in the Lothian Committee Report.
  9. There shall be no disabilities attached to any one on the ground of his being a member of the Depressed Classes in regard to any election to local bodies or appointment to the public services. Every endeavour shall be made to secure a fair representation of the Depressed Classes in these respects, subject to such educational qualifications as may be laid down for appointment to the Public Services.(Adult franchise but reservation has been provided for Dalits on population basis, till 1960),
  10. In every province out of the educational grant an adequate sum shall be ear-marked for providing educational facilities to the members of Depressed Classes.

Ambedkar's Reaction to Agreement [2]
Translation of Babasaheb's Marathi Speech delivered at Indian Merchant's Association Hall on 25th Sept.1932 regarding Poona Pact and published in the issue of Janta on 1st oct.1932
When I think about my difficult situation few days before and today's happy moment I consider it as a dreamlike moment.On the one hand I had to save the life of Mr.Gandhi; on the other, I had to protect the legitimate rights of millions of my fellow untouchable brothers with the full value of my life. I had never thought that this double perplexing situation will be resolved so easily and successfully.I am very happy that all the Hindu leaders showed a great understanding and took a totally thoughtful and cooperative stance in the moment of the terrible and responsible situation.Therefore we could arrive at a satisfactory solution to come out of the very complex situation.This could be possible due to struggle and vehement efforts made by Mahatma Gandhi for it. I was very surprised when Mahatma Gandhi accepted and gave assent to all my demands and even congratulated me.If Mahatma had adopted the same stand in the Second Round Table Conference,this difficult situation wouldn't have arisen. I am very happy to give acceptance and assent to this successful pact.If my Sprushya(Touchable) brothers wholeheartedly accept and try to implement this pact,then me and my untouchable brothers would be very happy.On this occasion I do not hesitate to give credit to Sir Tejbahadur Sapru and C.Rajgopalachari besides Mahatma Gandhi for the success of this Pact.

[1]. http://www.ambedkar.org/impdocs/poonapact.htm
[2]. From Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches Vol.18 Part I Page No.368-369

11 comments:

  1. Dr. Ambedkar has done real good work for the depressed caste in Hindus.
    But in the above text I have strong disagreement on the statement, "Gandhi strongly opposed it on the plea that the move would give power to the oppressed classes (Dalit)."
    In fact the sentence should be "Gandhi strongly opposed it on the grounds that it would disintegrate Hindu society." Please don't misguide people about Mahatma Gandhi.

    FYI. I also belong to "Oppressed Class (Dalit)" society

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr. Arvind, Although it's not mention explicitly anywhere in the text of Dr.B. R. Ambedkar, but this doesn't mean that it's not there, if you could read, then read about round table conference, specially the first one which was boycotted by congress, but attend by minorities and Dr. Ambedkar and further the words of Gandhi in second conference, which ignores to even listen to the problem of nearly 2/3 depressed class population, so, Gandhi left no option except for demanding a separate electorate or even separate Mahar-Watan, and ultimately if Dalits get separated from Hindu, what will left with a handful society of HINDI.

      So, before taking the side of Gandhi you must read the most miserable history of Dalits in the History of Mankind. (and if you don't have reading material i can provide you)

      Delete
    2. It's written wrong that Gandhi wished bad of dalits. Reservation doubled d seat of dalit. But I think u cannot guarantee a party with annoying fasting man. To trust Britishers was better for br sir. Plus even back den if u want to b mahatma u have to keep dalit on ur side. As his way was wrong his act was also wrong nd feelings also. But did som good. Today dalits r still unable to merge with main stream. I m non dalit ambetkar fan. He was not dalit leader he was leader of all Indians. Plz who belong to such class dnt think every body hate u for reservations. Modern thinkers stand by ur side. All Indians r brothers nd sisters

      Delete
  2. Dr. Ambedkar has done real good work for the depressed caste in Hindus.
    But in the above text I have strong disagreement on the statement, "Gandhi strongly opposed it on the plea that the move would give power to the oppressed classes (Dalit)."
    In fact the sentence should be "Gandhi strongly opposed it on the grounds that it would disintegrate Hindu society." Please don't misguide people about Mahatma Gandhi.

    FYI. I also belong to "Oppressed Class (Dalit)" society

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arvind..You are a betrayer or a black sheep. Dont ever call Gandhi a Mahatma. Gandhi was ready to give special consideration to Muslims and Sikh..But not to the untouchables.

      Delete
  3. "Gandhi strongly opposed it on the plea that the move would give power to the oppressed classes (Dalit)". this is wrong statement.
    gandhi opposed it because communal award by macdonald is a strategy to sow a seed to permanently disassociate oppressed classes from supposed upper castes - it was harmful to hinduism and depressed classes. even now such projects like afro-dalit project, christianizing dalits is going on.....poona pact is win win situation, even baba saheb was very happy with it

    ReplyDelete
  4. mr arvind gandhi la mahatma bolnya adhi gandhi ksa hota he mahit kru ghya....... read the book named- mahatma gandhichya RAASLILA- by RAMESH VIVEKI.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Should we place Babasaheb & Mahatma as enemies? Cant we take good things from both?
      Manglura Vijay

      Delete
    2. Mr. Gandhi was supporter of chaturvarna. So he wanted dalits to remain weak and poor. So in this context the statement of dr babasaheb ambedkar is correct. ..Anil

      Delete
  5. Caste Hindu never considered their unyouchale brother ,a part of their society. So question of disintegration never arises..However it was political gimmick by ghandhi to prevent Dr.Ambedkar from something so good for dalits .He knew that make oppressed class politically powerful in the times yo come so he denied their due

    ReplyDelete
  6. The work is being done by Baba sahab Dr. bhim Rao ambedkar is really great one at the time when situation of underprivileged & suppressed group of peopple was pathetic. He is the founder member of our constitution and done a lot upbringing of suppressed people, one should get inspired and try to work hard for inclusion into society.

    ReplyDelete

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