Poona Pact

By Unknown - https://www.forwardpress.in/2017/05/john-dewey-pragmatism-communication-and-bhimrao-ambedkar/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59307477

Poona Pact was signed between both champions of the civil liberties of the depressed Classes. The leaders were dealing with an ideological fight for the emancipation of these people. Although divided by beliefs, they were unified in the reason for socio-economic as well as political upliftment of individuals from these classes. On one side of the ideological battle was a sophisticated, foreign-educated Dalit leader– and on the other was a mass leader whose popularity cut across race, religion, and locations. The former was Baba Saheb Ambedkar, and the latter was Mahatma Gandhi.

The Head Of State of Britain, Ramsay MacDonald, had introduced the Communal Honor. This offered a separate body politic for the ‘Depressed Classes’– which till then had existed just for Muslims, Sikhs and also Christians. What this indicated was that Muslim leaders were to be chosen by Muslims, Sikh leaders by Sikhs, and so on. This arrangement was extended for the ‘Depressed Classes’ also, which implied that they would undoubtedly comprise a different team and also were no more to be seen as a part of the Hindus.

Gandhi vehemently opposed the Communal Honor because it would further alienate the ‘Depressed Classes.’ The concern of eliminating untouchability would disappear, and they would undoubtedly be subject to discrimination for eternity. Ambedkar, on the other hand, saw that the separate body politic in the legislature would assist in expediting the overall growth of the ‘Depressed Classes’– and that it was necessary to create an adjustment in the social order. Gandhi required that the representatives of the ‘Depressed Classes’ be elected by an underlying body politic– with seats reserved for them. This meant that on the seats reserved for representative candidates of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the vote would indeed be cast by all. Therefore, a deadlock followed.

Gandhi started a rapid fast unto death from September 20, 1932, at Yerwada Prison in Poona. He proclaimed: “One hundred lives given for this noble reason would certainly, in my viewpoint, be poor penance done by Hindus for the shocking misdoings they have heaped upon powerless men and women of their very own religion.” This particular day was observed as a day of fasting and prayers. Temples, wells, etc. were tossed open to people from the ‘Depressed Classes’ all over the nation.

The Poona pact was endorsed on September 24, 1932, by leaders of different political leanings– including Madan Mohan Malviya, BR Ambedkar, MC Rajah to name a few. It abandoned the idea of a separate body politic while promoting for the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Provincial and the Central legislature.


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