Ambedkar and the Poona Pact-THE HINDU-14-04-2020
The background to the Poona Pact was the Communal Award of August 1932, which, among other things, reserved 71 seats in the central legislature for the depressed classes.
In addition, the Poona Pact assured a fair representation of the depressed classes in the public services while earmarking a portion of the educational grant for their uplift. The Poona Pact was an emphatic acceptance by upper-class Hindus that the depressed classes constituted the most discriminated sections of Hindu society. The concessions agreed to in the Poona Pact were precursors to the world’s largest affirmative programme launched much later in independent India. Despite what Ambedkar had achieved for the depressed classes through the Poona Pact, there were carpers.
Perry Anderson and Arundhati Roy argued that Gandhi through his fast coerced Ambedkar into the Poona Pact. Ambedkar, however, was hardly the person to bend to someone else’s will.
The Poona Pact had several positive outcomes for Ambedkar. It emphatically sealed his leadership of the depressed classes across India. As a practical man Ambedkar was not looking for the perfect solution. On the 129th year of his birth on April 14 this year, we would do well to remember Ambedkar as much for the Poona Pact as we do for the Constitution he helped conjure.