dmpq-. Discuss how Gandhi-Irwin Paved the way for Congress’s Participation in Round table Conferences.

. British convened a series of “Round Table Conferences” in London to discuss constitutional reforms in India.  The first meeting was held in November 1930. However, without the pre-eminent political leader in India, it was an exercise in futility.  Gandhi was released from jail in January 1931. In the following month, he had several long meetings with the Viceroy.

These culminated in what was called the “Gandhi-Irwin Pact’.  The terms of the agreement included the immediate release of all political prisoners not convicted for violence, the remission of all fines not yet collected, the return of confiscated lands not yet sold to third parties, and lenient treatment for those government employees who had resigned. The Government also conceded the right to make salt for consumption to villages along the coast. They also gave the right to peaceful and non-aggressive picketing.

The Congress demand for a public inquiry into police excesses was not accepted, but Gandhiji’s insistent request for an inquiry was recorded in the agreement.  Congress, on its part, agreed to discontinue the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).  A second Round Table Conference was held in London in the latter part of 1931. Here, Gandhiji represented the Congress.

Gandhi opposed the demand for separate electorates for “lower castes”. For him, separate electorates to the “Untouchables” will ensure their bondage in perpetuity. He thought this would prevent their integration into mainstream society and permanently segregate them from other caste Hindus.  But Ambedkar was in favour of separate electorates for depressed classes. He believed it is the only path for a community so handicapped to succeed in the struggle for life against the organised tyranny of higher castes.

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