This article contains everything important you need to know about Gandhi’s Harijan Campaign.

Introduction:

  • Ramsay MacDonald (the then Prime Minister of Britain) introduced Communal Award (1932) which was aimed to provide separate electorate to the Depressed Classes.
  • Real motive of the British government behind Communal Award was to divide Indian society on the basis of caste and to deviate people’s attention from Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • Gandhi quickly anticipated government’s separatist policies and focused his attention completely on social reform of the depressed classes.
  • While he was in Yeravda Jail, he set up ‘All India Anti-Untouchability League’ (Also known as Harijan Sewak Sangh) in September 1932 to address the issue of Untouchability. G.D. Birla was the first president of ‘All India Anti-Untouchability League’.
  • He started a weekly journal called ‘Harijan’. The chief purpose of this magazine was to eradicate untouchability.
  • To give his full energy to this reform campaign, Gandhi virtually retired from national politics.
  • When Gandhi was released from prison, he started Harijan tour from Wardha (Maharashtra) from November 1933 to July 1934 covering 20,000 Km.
  • He frequently undertook fasts to show the seriousness and importance of the Anti-Untouchability issue.
  • Due to his actions, Gandhi was frequently attacked by the orthodox section of Indian society who blamed him of attacking Hinduism. These orthodox groups often protested against Gandhi and even supported the British government.
  • In his famous saying, Gandhi stated that “Hinduism will die if Untouchability lives, it has to die if Hinduism has to live“. He said that Shastras do not sanction untouchability and even if they did, they should be ignored as it is against human dignity.

Features of the Campaign:

  • Gandhi’s Harijan Campaign included social reforms like opening of wells, roads and mainly temples for the Harijan community. He also stressed on providing them quality education and means of employment in domestic services and in the offices.
  • This Campaign also included programs for internal reforms within the Harijan community. Maintaining personal as well as local hygiene, giving up of liquor and other addictive substances, encouraging children for primary education were some of the components of internal reforms.

Gandhi’s Harijan Campaign was not a political movement but was meant to purify Hinduism.

Positive Gains of Gandhi’s Harijan Campaign:

  1. Gandhi’s campaign against untouchability dignified the social status of the depressed classes.
  2. The inhuman restrictions imposed upon this community were reduced to a large extent.
  3. The depressed classes now participated in Indian national movement with more enthusiasm.

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