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Communal Award

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Communal Award

The Communal Award was made by the British Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald on 16 August 1932 granting separate electorates in British India for the Forward Caste, Lower Caste, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and Untouchables (now known as the Dalits) etc.

The 'award' attracted severe criticism from Mahatma Gandhi, the Akali Dal etc.

As a result of the Third Round Table Conference, in November 1932, the then Prime Minister of Britain Ramsay Macdonald gave his 'award' known as the Communal Award. According to it, separate representation was to be provided for the Forward Caste, Lower Caste, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and Dalits. The Untouchables were assigned a number of seats to be filled by election from special constituencies in which voters belonging to the Untouchables only could vote.

The Award was highly controversial and opposed by Mahatma Gandhi, who was in Yerveda jail, and fasted in protest against it. Gandhi strongly opposed the Communal Award on the grounds that it would disintegrate Hindu society. Communal Award was supported by many among the minority communities, most notably the Untouchable's leader, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. After lengthy negotiations, Gandhi reached an agreement with Dr. Ambedkar to have a single Hindu electorate, with Untouchables having seats reserved within it. This is called the Poona Pact. Electorates for other religions like Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans remained separate.

Akali Dal, the representative body of the Sikhs, was also highly critical of the Award, since only 19% reservation was provided to the Sikhs in Punjab, as opposed to the 51% reservation for the Muslims and 30% for the Hindus.[1][2]

References

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