Poona Pact 1932 – History, Significance, Impact of Poona Pact on Dalits

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Poona Pact 1932 was signed on September 24, 1932, by Mahatma Gandhi and Bhimrao Ambedkar at Yerwada Central Jail in Pune on behalf of the depressed class to secure voting rights in the legislature of the British government. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar signed the Poona Pact as the representative of the backyard section of society. Since Mahatma Gandhi was in jail, hence, Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya signed the Poona Pact pact on behalf of Mahatma Gandhi as the representative of lower-class Hindus.

Poona Pact was meant to bring an end to Gandhi’s fast, which he had been observing while being in custody in opposition to the decision taken by British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald to allow the downtrodden classes to separate in British India’s provincial Legislative Assembly Elections. The Poona Pact notes and sample questions are essential for IAS and other competitions. The Poona Pact sparked a variety of heated reactions, including calls for its amendment from both Hindus and a segment of the oppressed classes.

What was Poona Pact?

In 1932 Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. BR Ambedkar came to an agreement as a representative of lower caste Hindus, Dalits, and oppressed classes regarding the seat reservations for them in the British Assembly. The Poona pact was signed on 24th September 1932 in the Yerwada Central Jail.

  • Poona pact 1932 was the pact signed between the Hindu leaders to safeguard the Dalit interests. Hindus, in vast numbers, spoke up to defend their rights.
  • This agreement is also the outcome of the communal award of 4th August 1932. Early in the 20th century, there was a lot of conflict between various sectarian interests and the Indian government structure.
  • Following several discussions and consultations, the British government accepted a proposal given by Hindu leaders.
  • The Scheduled Caste or impoverished Hindu classes wanted to reserve their seats in the legislature under this Poona pact.
  • A prominent Dalit activist named Bhim Rao Ramji Ambedkar also endorsed this idea. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was the one who opposed the injustice experienced by the Dalit group. But many national figures such as Mahatma Gandhi put forward a different strategy.
  • He suggested that the oppressed classes shall be given special seats in the national and provincial assemblies.
  • By 1930 Bhimrao Ambedkar had established himself as the National figurehead for the poor and working-class people. And also, during the first round table conference, he spoke on behalf of the class.
  • As a result, the proposition eventually became a significant element in the political landscape of India.
  • The Poona pact signed by Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar as a representative of upper-class Hindu readers and the underprivileged Hindu class called for the reservation of seats for the underprivileged in British India’s legislature.
  • For the under-represented group in society, 71 seats were reserved in the central legislature.

History of Poona Pact

Ramsay McDonald issued a communal award on 16th August 1932 which established a separate electorate for Muslims, Anglo Indians, Christians, and Europeans who have their roots in India. Basically, The Poona Pact was based on demands for a joint electorate. It is important to know its roots and hence, we should know the history of the Poona Pact.

  • On August 16, 1932, British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald proclaimed a communal award that established separate electorates for marginalized sections of India along with Europeans, Sikhs, Anglo-Indians, and Indian Christians.
  • The 1932 communal prize was founded on the concept of different electorates, which the British government had previously attempted to implement through the Indian Council Act 1909 and the Government of India Act 1919.
  • For the purpose of choosing a candidate for the legislative assembly, only residents of these sections were eligible to vote. The unique electorate system allocated a specific number of members in the legislature to each municipality.
  • Mahatma Gandhi vigorously opposed the communal award because he believed that it was part of British imperialists’ ongoing strategy to divide Indians into several small groups and weaken the national movements.
  • Ambedkar supported the concept of awards ever since the beginning because he believed that political initiatives like having a separate electorate might aid in uplifting the underprivileged section of society.
  • A compromise was made in the form of the Poona pact by Mahatma Gandhiji and Bhim Rao Ambedkar after a series of discussions that resulted in the abolition of a distinct electorate for the downtrodden classes.

Provisions of Poona Pact

The Poona Pact of 1932 was an agreement signed between the leaders of the Indian National Congress and the leaders of the Depressed Classes or Dalits to address the issue of political representation for Dalits in India. Hence, the pact opened the doors to equal representation of all the sections of the society in the British Assembly. The provisions of the Poona Pact are as follows:

  • The British government had earlier granted the Dalits a separate electorate, which meant that they would be able to vote only for candidates from their own community. However, the Poona Pact provided for the abolition of separate electorates for Dalits.
  • In place of separate electorates, the Poona Pact provided for the reservation of a certain percentage of seats in the provincial and central legislative councils for Dalits.
  • The pact also provided for a joint electorate, which meant that Dalits and non-Dalits would vote together in the elections.
  • The Poona Pact also ensured that a certain number of seats would be reserved for the Depressed Classes in the central and provincial governments.

Therefore, the Poona Pact was an important milestone in the struggle for political representation and social justice for Dalits in India. It paved the way for the inclusion of Dalits in the political process and helped to reduce the discrimination they faced.

Significance of the Poona Pact

The Poona Pact was a landmark agreement that addressed the issue of the underrepresentation of Dalits in India. Not only did it help secure their rights, but it also helped the upliftment of Dalits after independence. The significance of the Poona Pact has been explained in the following points:

  • The Poona Pact ensured that a certain number of seats would be reserved for the Depressed Classes in the central and provincial governments, which gave them a voice in the decision-making process.
  • The agreement also provided for a joint electorate, which meant that Dalits and non-Dalits would vote together in the elections.
  • The Poona Pact was a major victory for the Dalit community in India and gave them a sense of political empowerment.
  • It played a significant role in shaping the future of Indian democracy by setting the precedent for the inclusion of marginalized groups.

Impact of the Poona Pact on Dalits

The Dalits were counted to be the most backward society after independence. The implementation of the Poona Pact was accounted to be a failure despite facilitating Dalits’ political rights. It led to many conflicts within themselves. Walk through the points illustrating the impact of the Poona Pact on Dalits.

  • The Poona Pact led to the uprise of numerous issues by permitting the old Hindu structure to be followed.
  • This Pact led the underprivileged sections to the clutches of politics. The Hindu caste organizations could take advantage of this scenario.
  • The depressed class was left without any leader. They were forced to admit the status quo in the sphere of politics, ideologies, and cultures that were not able to formulate independent and sincere leadership to oppose the Brahmanical system.
  • The Poona Pact did not lead to the formulation of a society that is encompassing the values of morality, equality, liberty, fraternity, and justice.

The Outcome of the Poona Pact

Through the Poona pact, caste-based Hindu organizations could employ the downtrodden section as political props. As a result of the actual representatives of the classes being powerless against the stooges selected and backed by caste Hindu groups, it left the depressed classes without a leader.

  • The main goal of the Poona pact was to increase the number of seats for the poor in turn for their consent to the continued existence of a combined electorate.
  • In order to elect a panel for 4 candidates from the oppressed classes to the reserved seat, an electoral college made up of all operated class members who were enrolled on the general electoral roll in a constituency was referred to as a joint electorate. This election was conducted using the single-vote method.
  • The general electorate would choose four candidates for each of the reserved seats who received the most votes in the primary election.
  • The disadvantaged class would be given a portion of the seats allotted to the broader non-Muslim voters.
  • The downtrodden classes would get proper representation in the Civil Services as approved by congress. Resulting which the backward class people deciding to adhere to the joint electorate idea.
  • Seats were set aside from the ordinary Muslim seats in the provincial legislatures for the depressed class. There were 36 in Madras, 30 seats in Bengal, 7 seats in Assam, 20 seats in United provinces, 20 seats in Central provinces, 18 seats in Bihar and Orissa, 15 seats in Bombay, and Sindh, and 8 seats in Punjab.
  • According to the working committee of the All India scheduled caste Federation, the shared electorate system preventive schedule caste from elected authentic and effective members to legislatures, and the most recent elections were held under the Government of India 1935 Act.

Poona Pact UPSC Notes

The Poona pact topic is important to learn in modern Indian history as it may be asked in UPSC Prelims and Mains exam. Hence, it becomes more important for the candidates to be acquainted with the concepts and fundamentals of the subjects.

Poona Pact UPSC PDF

You can also check your preparation with the help of the previous year’s question papers and UPSC study material provided by us.

Poona Pact Questions

Aspirants should learn the topic deeply as it is a crucial topic for the IAS exam. The candidates can practice the questions as illustrated here. This will help the candidates in building the concepts and establishing the fundamentals.

In contrast to Mahatma Gandhi, who fought a dual campaign for India’s Independence and preservation of Hindu society, Bhimrao Ambedkar believed that the rights of the depressed classes were more crucial to political independence. Check out the sample questions that can be expected in the UPSC exam.

Question.1) The Poona pact was signed between the British government and Mahatma Gandhi in 1934 and provided for [Prelims 1997]. [a] Creation of Dominion status for India, [b] Separate electorates for Muslims, [c] Separate electorates for Harijans, [d] A joint electorate with reservations for Harijans

Answer. [Option D] A joint electorate with reservations for Harijans.

Question.2) The Poona Pact 1932 was signed between which two leaders? [a] Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, [b] Mahatma Gandhi and Bhimrao Ambedkar, [c] Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, [d] Mahatma Gandhi and Madan Mohan Malviya

Answer. [Option C] Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya

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