Communal Award, Poona Pact & Government of India Act of 1935 - Civil Services Preparation Online! UPSC & IAS Study Material

Communal Award, Poona Pact & Government of India Act of 1935

by Devender

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Lord Willingdon held the power from 1931 to 1936. During his period, The second Around Table Conference and restart of CDM took place in 1931. The communal award, 1932 & the Poona act, Third Round Table Conference in 1932, and The Government of India act Of 1935 also happened during this time period.

Communal Awards

These awards were announced by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, in August 1932 which was another Divide and Rule policy of the British government. The Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians were already been recognized as minorities and with these awards, the depressed classes were also to be minorities and entitling them to separate electorates.

  • Gandhi’s Reaction to Communal Awards:
  • Britishers were trying to separate the depressed classes from the rest of the Hindus by treating them as separate political entities were hugely opposed by all nationalists.

  • Gandhi saw this as an attack on Indian unity and nationalism
  • He said that once these classes were treated as a separate political entity, the question to end untouchability would get undermined
  • He also added that separate electorates would ensure that the untouchables remained untouchables
  • He requested that the discouraged classes be chosen through joint and if conceivable a more extensive electorate through an all-inclusive establishment while communicating no issue with the interest for a bigger number of saved seats. What's more, to press for his requests, he went on a fast unto passing in the Yeravada prison.


    Poona Pact

    An agreement was reached between Gandhi and Ambedkar which is known as the Poona Pact according to which, seats reserved for the depressed classes were increased from 71 to 147 in provincial legislatures and 18 % of the total in the central legislature and in every province out of the educational grant an adequate sum shall be earmarked for providing educational facilities to the members of Depressed Classes. The government also accepted it as an amendment to the Communal Award.


  • B R Ambedkar:
  • He was a jurist, a statesman, a social reformer, and a leader of the depressed classes born in the Mahar caste in Mahu (M P) in 1891. He went abroad to England and America for higher studies and became the first graduate from his caste. He participated in all three RTC.

    He signed the Poona Pact with Gandhi in 1932 and from 1942 to 1946, he was in the Executive Council of the Governor-General.

  • He organized the Indian Labour Party, Scheduled Caste Federation, and People’s Education Society
  • He was the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution
  • He also piloted the Hindu Code through the Indian Legislature
  • From 1947 to 1951, he served as a law minister in Nehru's cabinet
  • Towards the end of his life, he embraced Buddhism.


    The Government of India Act, 1935

    It was drafted on the basis of the report of the Simon Commission, the outcome of the Round Table Conferences, and the White Paper issued by the British Government in 1933. The main features of this act were:

  • Provision for the establishment of an All India Federation at the Centre, consisting of the Provinces of British India and the Princely States
  • However, it did not come into existence as the Princely States refused to give their consent for the union.

  • Division of powers into three lists viz. Federal, Provincial and Concurrent
  • Introduction of Diarchy at the Centre where, The Governor-General and his councilors administered the "Reserved subjects" and The Council of Ministers were responsible for the "Transferred" subjects
  • Abolition of Diarchy and the introduction of Provincial Autonomy in the provinces
  • The Governor was made the head of the Provincial Executive but he was expected (not bound) to run the administration on the advice of the Council of ministers
  • Provincial Legislatures of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, United Provinces, Bihar and Assam were made bicameral
  • Extension of the principle of Separate Electorates to Sikhs, Europeans, Indian Christians and Anglo Indians
  • Establishment of a Federal Court at Delhi with a Chief Justice and 6 judges



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