The Communal Award was seen not only as an attack on national unity but also inimical to the
interests of the depressed classes. Discuss. Also, highlight how the Poona Pact sought to
address some concerns in this regard. (150 words) 10

  • Give a brief background of the Communal Award and mention its key features.
  • Explain how it was an attack on national unity and was not in the interests of depressed classes.
  • Discuss how Poona Pact addressed the concerns arising from the communal award.
  • Conclude accordingly.
    In the 1920s, the British attempted to make the government more representative and broad based
    but there were divergent views on representation for the depressed classes. One section demanded
    reservation within joint electorates and another section demanded separate electorate for the
    depressed classes.

In this regard, the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald announced the Communal Award in
1932 which introduced a separate electorate for the Depressed Classes. The award also provided
certain statutory safeguards to the depressed classes:

  • Depressed classes were declared as a minority community similar to Muslims, Sikhs,
    Christians, Anglo-Indians, and Europeans.
  • The award gave the depressed classes voting rights along with caste Hindus in the general
    constituencies and also an extra vote in the special Depressed Classes constituencies.
    This Award was seen as an attack on national unity and was considered harmful to the interests of
    the depressed classes because:
  • A separate electorate could have resulted in permanent segregation of the depressed classes
    from the Hindu community. This was seen as a prospective ‘divide and rule’ strategy of British.
  • The aim of British government was to detach depressed class people of the province from the
    freedom struggle movement and get them interested in social reforms instead.
  • The Communal Award could have made any future agreement among Indians more difficult
    with multiple viewpoints and no consensus.
  • As per Gandhiji, separate electorate would ensure that the Untouchables remained
    ‘Untouchables in perpetuity’ since the caste Hindus would not consider it as their moral
    responsibility to strive for the eradication of untouchability anymore.
  • The seats allocated were few and disproportionate to the population of the depressed classes.
    Also, there was no clarity over their representation in the Central Assembly.
    Gandhiji strongly opposed separate electorates for the depressed classes and sat on fast unto death
    in Yeravada jail. This forced the representatives of caste Hindus (such as Madan Mohan Malviya, C.
    Rajagopalachari) and the depressed classes (such as B.R. Ambedkar, M.C. Rajah) to sign a pact,
    known as Poona Pact. The idea of separate electorate for depressed classes was abandoned and
    some of their concerns were resolved through the pact:
  • The seats reserved for the depressed classes were increased to 147 in the Provincial
    Legislatures and 18% in the Central Legislature. This system of representation of depressed
    classes through reserved seats in the Provincial and Central Legislatures was to stay until
    terminated by mutual agreement between the communities.
  • Depressed classes would not be deprived of election to local bodies or appointment to public
    services on the basis of their birth.
  • To provide educational facilities to the members of depressed classes, every province would
    earmark an adequate amount out of the educational grant they receive.
    Poona Pact is significant due to the fact that it initiated a pattern of political compromise between
    “caste” Hindus and the depressed classes in the allocation of legislative representation and
    government jobs. It led to the passage of resolution that no one shall be regarded as untouchables
    amongst Hindus and they will have the same rights in all the social institutions as the other Hindus.
  1. Given the important role played by the press in the formation and propagation of nationalist
    ideology, the British sought to curb the freedom of the press at various points during the
    freedom movement. Elaborate. (150 words) 10
  • Briefly introduce by explaining the emergence of press and its purpose in India.
  • Discuss the role played by the press in formation and propagation of nationalist ideology.
  • Discuss various Acts which were brought to curb the freedom of the Press.
  • Conclude by briefly explaining their outcomes/consequences.
    The British had introduced the printing press in India and thus initiated the development of the
    modern press. Educated Indians recognised that the press could play a great role in educating
    public opinion and in influencing government policies through criticism and censure. Several
    nationalist leaders played an important part in starting newspapers and making them a powerful

political force e.g. Dada Bhai Naorojee (Voice of India), Surendra Nath Banerjee (The Bengalee), Bal
Gangadhar Tilak (Kesari and Mahratta). The press gradually became a major weapon of the
nationalist movement. It played the following role:

  • It formed an important tool on political propaganda and education, formation and propagation
    of nationalist ideology which was the main political task in the early phase of the nationalist
  • Nationalist leaders used the press as a tool to arouse, train, mobilize and consolidate public
    opinion. The Indian National Congress in its early days relied solely on the press to propagate its
    resolutions and proceedings.
  • Newspapers had a wide reach and stimulated a library movement. Not just cities but also in
    remote villages, each news item and editorial would be read and thoroughly discussed in the
    local libraries which would gather around a single newspaper. Thus, newspapers served the
    purpose of not only political education but also political participation.
  • By putting government acts and policies to critical scrutiny common newspapers acted as an
    institution of opposition to government. With the help of press the true nature of British rule
    was brought forward to the masses.
    The role of the press in transmitting the message of freedom to the masses of India and raising the
    public conscience invited aggressive policy of the British to curb freedom of the Press from the very
    beginning. Some of the early regulations include Censorship of the Press Act (1799), Licensing
    Act (1857) and Registration Act (1867). License was required to start a press, name of the
    printer/publisher had to be mentioned on every newspaper/book published and copy of the book
    had to be submitted to the local government. More regulations were imposed as the freedom
    struggle strengthened:
  • Section 124 A of the IPC: Words, signs or visible representations which could excite
    disaffection towards the British government was to be considered ‘Seditious’ and made a
    criminal offence in 1870.
  • Vernacular Press Act, 1878: Nicknamed as ‘the gagging Act’, it was brought to control
    vernacular press. The District Magistrate was given extensive powers such as:
    o Censor any reports and editorial which he considered seditious.
    o Ask a publisher/printer to enter into a bond with the government that they would not cause
    o Forfeit the security deposited by the publisher and could confiscate press equipment.
  • Newspaper (Incitement to offences) Act, 1908: To curb militant revolutionary activities,
    Magistrates were empowered to confiscate press property which published materials which in
    their opinion could incite act of violence.
  • Indian Press Act, 1910: It revived the worst features of VPA, 1878, imposed exorbitant
    security deposit (up to Rs 10,000) and made it compulsory for the publishers to submit two
    copies of each issue free of charge to the local government.
  • Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931: This act was brought to suppress political
    propaganda during the Civil Disobedience Movement and was further strengthened by the
    Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932. Pre-censorship was imposed under Official Secrets Act,
    1923 and even publishing of a passage from a newspaper, book or other document which the
    government had forfeited was made a criminal offence.
  • Press Regulating Act, 1942: Under this Act, registration of journalists was made mandatory,
    limitations were imposed on the messages regarding civil disturbances, prohibition of news was
    imposed regarding acts of sabotage and the government had the authority on arbitrary
    censorship as well.
    At one point of time, even Congress was declared illegal and publishing about its activities was also
    banned. Several journalists (such as S. N. Banerjee and Tilak) had to face jail time for writing against
    government. However, even the curbing of freedom of Press helped in propagation of national
    sentiments and ideology. Therefore, soon after India got independence, Freedom of Speech and
    Press was enshrined in the Constitution as Fundamental Rights of people.