Please read the following article to study all important points related to Communal Award (1932).
- Communal Award was announced by the then Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald in August 1932.
- Communal Award is also known as MacDonald Award.
- It was a proposal on Minority Representation and was clearly drafted to promote the British policy of Divide and Rule.
Key Proposals of Communal Award
- The number of seats in the provincial legislature was to be doubled.
- The system of separate electorate for the minorities was kept intact.
- Except for NWFP, 3% seats for women were to be reserved in the provincial legislature.
- Depressed Classes, Dalits or untouchables were declared as Minorities. (Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Europeans and Anglo Indians were already declared Minorities.)
- Depressed classes were provided seats which had to be filled by elections from special constituencies where only depressed classes could vote. However, they were eligible to vote in the general constituencies as well.
By Communal Award, the British Government was trying to separate the depressed classes from the rest of the Hindus.
Gandhi’s Reaction towards Communal Award:
- Gandhi declared this pact as an instrument to divide depressed classes from the main body Hindus and an attempt by the British to break down the country on the basis of communities.
- He wrote a letter to Ramsay MacDonald (the then British Prime Minister) that if the proposals of the award are not changed, he would sit on fast unto death.
- On 20 September 1932, Gandhi sat on fast unto death in Yarawada Jail where he was imprisoned at that time. This was Mahatma Gandhi’s first Fast Unto Death.
Congress reaction towards Communal Award:
- Congress was not in favour of Communal Award but was not willing to openly interfere without the consent of minorities. Thus, Indian National Congress neither supported nor rejected Communal Award.
Why the British Government emphasized so much on the policy of Divide and Rule:
- British believed that India is not a nation but a mixture of several racial, religious and cultural groups, castes and interests.
- They noticed that Indian society had a tendency to lean towards localism, casteism and regionalism.
- British were well aware of the fact that the feeling of nationalism can defeat Imperialism. Thus, to strike down the sense of unity and nationalism, the British government came up with the instrument of separate electorate.
- Reservations started as a policy of appeasement and quota was smartly used by British to divide the spheres of interest of Indians.