Bharat Darshan- The Legacy of the Communal Award of 1932

In my analysis, the national entity called the Republic of India has not attained its full political independence from the British Raj on August 15, 1947. India is a slave to the British Policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ and India never gained full independence for it embraced the Communal Award Policy of 1932 imposed by the British Prime Minister McDonald.

The McDonald Award was based on the British theory that India was not a nation, but is a conglomeration of racial, religious and cultural groups, castes and interests. The British knew the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian Society and knew that Indian society had a tendency to gravitate towards localism and regionalism and the reason was obvious: India was a self-sufficient country based on self-sufficient units and there was very little interaction between the two. The British were very much aware that a sense of nationalism is always an antidote to imperialism. We can also say that the British had a single point agenda to strike down the nationalism and to create parochial loyalties among the smaller communities. This was one of the reasons that British came up with the concept of separate electorate, as Elections are a powerful means for the allocation of power and therefore, Thus, McDonald award was to debilitate national unity by creating different spheres of interests. It was dangerous and Gandhi knew it. The new challenge was to combat with the feeling of separatism. This award started a policy of appeasement and quota, which is still killing India, slowly.

Rudra Narasimham Rebbapragada

Special Frontier Force-Establishment No.22-Vikas Regiment

Bharat Darshan-The Legacy of the Communal Award of 1932. On this day in 1932, in his cell at Yarawada Jail near Bombay, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi begins a hunger strike in protest of the British government’s decision to separate India’s electoral system by caste.

On August 16, 1932, the British Prime Minister McDonald announced the Communal Award. Thus it is also known as McDonald Award. The Communal Award was basically a proposal on minority representation in the conduct of elections to choose public officials.

Major proposals were as follows:

  1. The existing seats of the provincial legislatures were to be doubled.
  2. The system of separate electorates for the minorities was to be retained.
  3. The Muslims, wherever they were in minority, were to be granted a weightage.
  4. Except North West Frontier Province, 3 % seats for women were to be reserved in all provinces.
  5. The depressed , dalits or the untouchables were to be declared as minorities.
  6. Allocation was to be made to labor, landlords, traders and industrialists.

Thus, this award accorded separate electorates for Muslims, Europeans, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo Indians, Depressed Classes, and even Marathas. (Some seats in Bombay were given to Marathas)

  • The depressed classes were given seats which had to be filled by election from the special constituencies in which only they could vote.
  • However, they were eligible to vote in the general constituencies as well.
  • The labor, Commerce and Industry, Mining and Planting, Landholders were also given special electorates.
  • Sikhs were 13.2% of the population in Punjab. Here they were given 32 seats out of the total 175 seats.

McDonald as another manifestation of British policy of Divide and Rule

The McDonald Award was based on the British theory that India was not a nation, but is a conglomeration of racial, religious and cultural groups, castes and interests. The British knew the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian Society and knew that Indian society had a tendency to gravitate towards localism and regionalism and the reason was obvious: India was a self-sufficient country based on self-sufficient units and there was very little interaction between the two. The British were very much aware that a sense of nationalism is always an antidote to imperialism. We can also say that the British had a single point agenda to strike down the nationalism and to create parochial loyalties among the smaller communities. This was one of the reasons that British came up with the concept of separate electorate, as Elections are a powerful means for the allocation of power and therefore, Thus, McDonald award was to debilitate national unity by creating different spheres of interests. It was dangerous and Gandhi knew it. The new challenge was to combat with the feeling of separatism. This award started a policy of appeasement and quota, which is still killing India, slowly.

Reaction of Gandhi on Communal Award

It was declared by Gandhi for more than once that the separate electorates for the depressed class was an attempt to divide and detach the depressed classes from the main body of Hindus. It seemed to him the these Firangies are going to break the country on the basis of the communities and so, he wrote a letter to the Prime Minister that if the award, so far it was related to the Depressed class, is not changed, he would sit on a fast unto death. On 16 September 1932, Gandhiji sat on the fast unto death in the Yarawada Jail, in which he was lodged at that time.

September 16, 1932

Gandhi begins fast in protest of caste separation

On September 16, 1932, in his cell at Yarawada Jail in Pune, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi begins a hunger strike in protest of the British government’s decision to separate India’s electoral system by caste.

A leader in the Indian campaign for home rule, Gandhi worked all his life to spread his own brand of passive resistance across India and the world. By 1920, his concept of Satyagraha (or “insistence upon truth”) had made Gandhi an enormously influential figure for millions of followers. Jailed by the British government from 1922-24, he withdrew from political action for a time during the 1920s but in 1930 returned with a new civil disobedience campaign. This landed Gandhi in prison again, but only briefly, as the British made concessions to his demands and invited him to represent the Indian National Congress Party at a round-table conference in London.

After his return to India in January 1932, Gandhi wasted no time beginning another civil disobedience campaign, for which he was jailed yet again. Eight months later, Gandhi announced he was beginning a “fast unto death” in order to protest British support of a new Indian constitution, which gave the country’s lowest classes—known as “untouchables”—their own separate political representation for a period of 70 years. Gandhi believed this would permanently and unfairly divide India’s social classes. A member of the more powerful Vaisya, or merchant caste, Gandhi nonetheless advocated the emancipation of the untouchables, whom he called Harijans, or “Children of God.”

“This is a god-given opportunity that has come to me,” Gandhi said from his prison cell at Yarawada, “to offer my life as a final sacrifice to the downtrodden.” Though other public figures in India–including Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambdekar, the official political representative of the untouchables–had questioned Gandhi’s true commitment to the lower classes, his six-day fast ended after the British government accepted the principal terms of a settlement between higher caste Indians and the untouchables that reversed the separation decision. The British Policy of Divide and Rule survives to-date as Electoral Quota System.

Bharat Darshan-The Legacy of the Communal Award of 1932.. Scheduled caste/Scheduled Tribe quotas born with Brits, took on life of their own after 1947.

Bharat Darshan-The Legacy of the Communal Award of 1932.. Scheduled caste/Scheduled Tribe quotas born with Brits, took on life of their own after 1947.

Published by Bhavanajagat

Whole Man - Whole Theory: "I am Consciousness, Therefore I am" is my proposition to examine the reality of Man and the World in which he exists.

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