POONA PACT – 1932


To draft a new Constitution involving self-rule for the native Indians, the British invited leaders of different parties in the Round Table Conferences in 1930-32.

Gandhiji did not attend the first and last but attended the second of the Conferences.

The concept of separate electorates for the Untouchables was raised by Dr. Ambedkar.

Similar provisions were already available for other minorities, including Muslims, Christians, Anglo-Indians and Sikhs.

The British government agreed with Dr. Ambedkar’s contention, and British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald’s Communal Award to the depressed classes was to be incorporated into the constitution in the governance of British India.

Gandhiji strongly opposed the Communal Award on the grounds that it would disintegrate Hindu society.

He began an indefinite hunger strike at Yerwada Central Jail from September 20, 1932 to protest against this Award.

A compromise was reached on September 24, 1932.

The pact signed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on behalf of the depressed classes in September 1932.

The Pact abandoned separate electorates for the depressed classes.

The depressed classes agreed to adhere to the principle of Joint Electorate.

The seats reserved for the depressed classes were increased from 71 to 147 in provincial legislatures and 18 per cent of the total in the central legislature.

The text uses the term “Depressed Classes” to denote Untouchables who were later called Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under India Act 1935, and the later Indian Constitution of 1950.