Context: On the 129th year of Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 14, remembering the role he played in the Poona Pact and its imprints on India’s Constitution.

About the Poona Pact

  • Background:
    • The background to the Poona Pact was the Communal Award of August 1932.
    • This  Communal Award of August 1932, among other things, had reserved 71 seats in the central legislature for the depressed classes. 
    • Gandhi’s opposition to Communal Award of August 1932: Gandhi was opposed to the award as he saw it as a British attempt to split Hindus, and began a fast unto death to have it repealed.
  • Agreement between Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar,1932
    • In line with the status of communal award, in late September 1932, B.R. Ambedkar negotiated the Poona Pact with Mahatma Gandhi. 
  • Provisions in Poona Pact,1932
    • Joint Electorate for depressed classes: In a settlement negotiated with Gandhi, Ambedkar agreed for depressed class candidates to be elected by a joint electorate. 
    • Increased number of seats for depressed classes in legislature: Slightly over twice as many seats (147) were reserved for the depressed classes in the legislature than what had been allotted under the Communal Award. 
    • Fair representation in the public services: The Pact also assured a fair representation of the depressed classes in the public services while earmarking a portion of the educational grant for their uplift.

Significance of the Poona pact:

  • The Poona Pact was an emphatic acceptance by upper-class Hindus that the depressed classes constituted the most discriminated sections of Hindu society. 
  • Realisation of the need of taking urgent steps:
    • It was emphasized during the Poona pact that something concrete had to be done to give depressed classes a political voice as well as to lift them from a backwardness they could not otherwise overcome.
  • Poona pact acted as precursors to many initiatives launched for depressed classes later on in independent India.
  • New identity of depressed class as a political force:
    • The Poona Pact had several positive outcomes for Ambedkar. It emphatically sealed Ambedkar’s leadership of the depressed classes across India. 
    • Ambedkar made the entire country, and not just the Congress Party, morally responsible for the uplift of the depressed classes. 
    • Ambedkar also became successful in making the depressed classes a formidable political force for the first time in history.

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