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Consider the following statements about Communal Award
A) This award was announced by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1933
B) This award gave separate electorates to Depressed Classes
C) Gandhi took fast unto death to revoke this award
D) By Poona Pact between Gandhi and Lord Irwin this award got canceled
Which of the above statements are correct?

1. A and B
2. B and C
3. C and D
4. A and D

1 Answer

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Correct Answer - Option 2 : B and C
The Correct Answer is- B and C.
  • The Communal Award was announced by the British prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald, on August 16, 1932. Hence statement A is Incorrect.
  • The Communal Award, based on the findings of the Indian Franchise Committee (also called the Lothian Committee), established separate electorates and reserved seats for minorities, including the depressed classes which were granted seventy-eight reserved seats.
  • Thus, this award accorded separate electorates for Muslims, Europeans, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, depressed classes, and even to the Marathas for some seats in Bombay.
  • The award was perceived by the national leaders led by the Congress as another manifestation of the British policy of divide and rule.
  • It should be noted here that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the past, in his testimony to the Simon Commission, had stressed that the depressed classes should be treated as a distinct, independent minority separate from the caste Hindus.
  • Even, the Bengal Depressed Classes Association had lobbied for separate electorates with seats reserved according to the proportion of depressed class members to the total population as well as for adult franchises.
  • But the Simon Commission rejected the proposal of a separate electorate for the depressed classes; however, it retained the concept of reserving seats.
  • In the Second Round Table Conference held in London, Ambedkar again raised the issue of a separate electorate for the depressed classes.
  • Earlier in the conference, Ambedkar had attempted to compromise with Gandhi on reserved seats in a common electorate, but Gandhi, who had declared himself the sole representative of India’s oppressed masses, rejected Ambedkar’s proposal and denounced the other delegates as unrepresentative.
  • Further, Gandhi attempted to strike a deal with Muslims, promising to support their demands as long as the Muslims voted against separate electorates for the depressed classes.
  • It is argued that political considerations might have motivated Gandhi to adopt such a stand. But despite such efforts, a consensus on the minority representation could not be worked out among the Indian delegates.
  • In the wake of such a situation, Ramsay MacDonald, who had chaired the committee on minorities, offered to mediate on the condition that the other members of the committee supported his decision. And, the outcome of this mediation was the Communal Award.

  • Signed by B.R. Ambedkar on behalf of the depressed classes on September 24, 1932, the Poona Pact abandoned the idea of separate electorates for the depressed classes. But the seats reserved for the depressed classes were increased from 71 to 147 in provincial legislatures and to 18 percent of the total in the Central Legislature. Hence statement D is Incorrect.

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