Poona Pact

Poona Pact

Poona Pact (1932) is the popular name of an agreement between the Untouchables (called Depressed Classes) of India led by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and the Hindus of India that took place on 24 September 1932 at Yerawada Jail in Pune (now in Maharashtra), India.


To draft a new Constitution involving self rule for the native Indians, the British invited various leaders for Round Table Conferences in 1930-32. Mahatma Gandhi did not attend the first Round Table Conference but attended the later Conferences. The concept of separate electorates for the Untouchables was raised by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Similar provisions were already available for Muslims, Sikhs etc. The British government agreed with the Ambedkar's contention. Gandhi strongly opposed it on the grounds that it would disintegrate Hindu society. He went on an indefinite hunger strike from September 20, 1932 while lodged in the Yerawada Jail in Pune, against the decision of British Prime Minister J. Ramsay MacDonald's Communal Award to the depressed classes (Untouchables) in the constitution for governance of British India.

The nation was deeply concerned about the health of Mahatma. Dr. Ambedkar was under tremendous pressure to save the life of Mahatma Gandhi and a compromise between the leaders of caste Hindus and Ambedkar was reached on September 24, 1932 when the Poona Pact was signed.

Text of the pact

The text uses the term "Depressed Classes" to denote Untouchables who were later called Scheduled Castes under India Act 1935, and the later Indian Constitution of 1950. The Untouchables are now popularly known as Dalits.

Following is the text of the pact:

1) There shall be seats reserved for the Depressed Classes out of general electorate seats in the provincial legislatures as follows: -

Madras 30; Bombay with Sind 25; Punjab 8; Bihar and Orissa 18; Central Provinces 20; Assam 7; Bengal 30; United Provinces 20. Total 148. These figures are based on the Prime Minister's (British) decision.

2) Election to these seats shall be by joint electorates subject, however, to the following procedure –

All members of the Depressed Classes registered in the general electoral roll of a constituency will form an electoral college which will elect a panel of four candidates belonging to the Depressed Classes for each of such reserved seats by the method of the single vote and four persons getting the highest number of votes in such primary elections shall be the candidates for election by the general electorate.

3) The representation of the Depressed Classes in the Central Legislature shall likewise be on the principle of joint electorates and reserved seats by the method of primary election in the manner provided for in clause above for their representation in the provincial legislatures.

Central Legislature

4) In the Central Legislature 18 per cent of the seats allotted to the general electorate for British India in the said legislature shall be reserved for the Depressed Classes.

5) The system of primary election to a panel of candidates for election to the Central and Provincial Legislatures as herein-before mentioned shall come to an end after the first ten years, unless terminated sooner by mutual agreement under the provision of clause 6 below.

6) The system of representation of Depressed Classes by reserved seats in the Provincial and Central Legislatures as provided for in clauses (1) and (4) shall continue until determined otherwise by mutual agreement between the communities concerned in this settlement.

7) The Franchise for the Central and Provincial Legislatures of the Depressed Classes shall be as indicated, in the Lothian Committee Report.

8) There shall be no disabilities attached to any one on the ground of his being a member of the Depressed Classes in regard to any election to local bodies or appointment to the public services. Every endeavour shall be made to secure a fair representation of the Depressed Classes in these respects, subject to such educational qualifications as may be laid down for appointment to the Public Services.

9) In every province out of the educational grant an adequate sum shall be ear-marked for providing educational facilities to the members of Depressed Classes.

ee also

* Forward Castes
* Other Backward Classes
* Scheduled Castes and Tribes


* [http://www.ambedkar.org/impdocs/poonapact.htm Poona Pact] ambedkar.org.
* [http://wwwa.britannica.com/eb/article-9060823 Britannica entry]
* [http://www.indhistory.com/round-table-conference-3.html Third Round Table Conference] Indhistory.com

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