Possibilities and limitations

Print edition : May 15, 2015

September 24, 1932, Yerwada Jail: M.R. Jayakar, Tej Bahadur Sapru and Ambedkar on the day of signing the Poona Pact. It was an agreement arrived at between the leaders of caste Hindus and the “Depressed Classes” regarding representation for the Depressed Classes in legislatures. This followed a hunger strike by Gandhi in the jail against the British government’s move to grant separate electorate for Dalits as Ambedkar had wanted. Ambedkar softened his stand in view of the clamour to save Gandhi’s life.

1930, Kalaram temple, Nashik. The temple entry movement launched by Ambedkar here is a landmark in the struggle for social justice. He urged his people through the Marathi journal he started, "Bahishkrit Bharat" (The Excluded of India) to hold a non-violent agitation to secure the right of entry into the temple. After demonstrations that lasted a month they were told they would be able to take part in the annual temple festival only to be denied. They resumed their agitation, and the temple remained closed for about a year.

Reservation is a very important part of Ambedkar’s constitutional legacy, which has transcended the law and contributed in no small measure to the mobilisation of groups that were political untouchables.

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