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Communal Award, Poona Pact & Government of India Act of 1935

Lord Willingdon (1931-1936)

  • The second Around Table Conference, 1931
  • Restarting of the Disobedience Movement, 1931
  • The communal award, 1932 & the Poona act
  • Third Round Table Conference, 1932
  • The Government of India Of 1935

 


Communal Awards

  • The Communal Award was announced by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, in August 1932.
  • This was yet another expression of British policy of divide and rule.
  • The Muslims, Sikhs and Christians had already been recognised as minorities.
  • The Communal Award declared the depressed classes also to be minorities, and entitled them to separate electorates’.

 

Gandhi’s Reaction to Communal Awards

  • The effort to separate the depressed classes from the rest of the Hindus by treating them as separate political entities was vehemently opposed by all the nationalists.
  • Gandhi saw the Communal Award as an attack on Indian unity and nationalism.
  • Once the depressed classes were treated as a separate political entity, he argued, the question to abolishing untouchability would get undermined
  • He said that separate electorates would ensure that the untouchables remained untouchables in perpetuity

poona pact

Gandhi demanded that the depressed classes be elected through joint and if possible a wider electorate through universal franchise, while expressing no objection to the demand for a larger number of reserved seats. And to press for his demands, he went on a fast unto death in the Yeravada jail.


Poona Pact

  • Finally, an agreement was reached between Dr Ambedkar and Gandhi, Known as the Poona Pact
  • Accordingly, seats reserved for the depressed classes were increased from 71 to 147 in provincial legislatures and 18 % of the total in the central legislature.
  • 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.
  • The Poona Pact was accepted by the Government as an amendment to the Communal Award.

 


B R Ambedkar

  • He was a jurist, a statesman, a social reformer and a leader of the depressed classes.
  • He was born in Mahar caste in Mahu (M P) in 1891.
  • He went for higher studies to England and America.
  • He was the first graduate of Mahar caste.
  • He participated in all the three Round Table Conferences.
  • He signed Poona Pact with Gandhi Ji in 1932.
  • From 1942 to 1946, he was in the Executive Council of the Governor General.
  • He organized the Indian Labour Party, Scheduled Caste Federation and People’s Education Society.
  • He was the chairman of the Drafting Committee of our Constitution.
  • He also piloted the Hindu Code through the Indian Legislature.
  • From 1947 to 1951, he was a law minister in Nehru’s cabinet.
  • Towards the end of his life he embraced Buddhism.

The Government of India Act, 1935

Government of India Act of 1935 was passed on the basis of

  • the report of the Simon Commission
  • the outcome of the Round Table Conferences
  • the White Paper issued by the British Government in 1933

 

Main features of this act were - 

  • Provision for the establishment of an All India Federation at the Centre, consisting of the Provinces of British India and the Princely States
  • It did not come into existence since the Princely States refused to give their consent for the union
  • Division of powers into three lists viz. Federal, Provincial and Concurrent.
  • Introduction of Diarchy at the Centre
  • The Governor-General and his councilors administered the “Reserved subjects”
  • The Council of Ministers were responsible for the “Transferred” subjects
  • Abolition of Diarchy and the introduction of Provincial Autonomy in the provinces.
  • The Governor was made the head of the Provincial Executive but he was expected (not bound) to run the administration on the advice of the Council of ministers.
  • Provincial Legislatures of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, United Provinces, Bihar and Assam were made bicameral.
  • Extension of the principle of Separate Electorates to Sikhs, Europeans, Indian Christians and Anglo Indians
  • Establishment of a Federal Court at Delhi with a Chief Justice and 6 judges.
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