*in the 1930's*
 

CONFLICT, CONTROVERSY, AND CONGRESS

Dr. Ambedkar was now in the midst of his career; this was the central and perhaps most controversy-filled decade of his whole complex life. He was often at odds with Congress, and was attacked by the nationalist press as a traitor. But as always, through all difficulties and frustrations, he persevered.

xx
==1930==  On Aug. 8, Dr. Ambedkar presided over the Depressed Classes Congress at Nagpur, and made a major speech: he endorsed Dominion status, and criticized Gandhi's Salt March and civil disobedience movement as inopportune; but he also criticized British colonial misgovernment, with its famines and immiseration. He argued that the "safety of the Depressed Classes" hinged on their "being independent of the Government and the Congress" both: "We must shape our course ourselves and by ourselves." His conclusion emphasized self-help: "Political power cannot be a panacea for the ills of the Depressed Classes. Their salvation lies in their social elevation. They must cleanse their evil habits. They must improve their bad ways of living.... They must be educated.... There is a great necessity to disturb their pathetic contentment and to instil into them that divine discontent which is the spring of all elevation." (-- *Keer*, pp. 141-143.)
==1930==  Dr. Ambedkar was invited by the Viceroy to be a delegate to the Round Table Conference, and left for London in October. He participated extensively in the work of the Round Table Conference, often submitting *written statements of his views*. His views at the time were described in an unpublished manuscript later found among his papers: *"The Untouchables and the Pax Britannica"*.
==1930==  "PRINCE AND OUTCAST AT DINNER IN LONDON END AGE-OLD BARRIER: Gaekwar of Baroda is Host to 'Untouchable' and Knight of High Hindu Caste..." (*...from an article in the New York Times, Nov. 30, 1930*).
== "But I tell you that the Congress is not sincere about its professions. Had it been sincere, it would have surely made the removal of untouchability a condition, like the wearing of khaddar, for becoming a member of the Congress." On August 14th, 1931, Dr. Ambedkar met with Gandhi for the first time. From Gandhi's side, *their discussion* was an absent-minded rebuke that seemed to be more in sorrow than in anger; from Ambedkar's side, it was an outburst of passionate reproach.
==1932==  The All-Indian Depressed Classes Conference, held at Kamtee near Nagpur on May 6th, backed Dr. Ambedkar's demand for separate electorates, rejecting compromises proposed by others.
==1932==  Gandhi, in Yeravda jail, started a fast to the death against the separate electorates granted to the Depressed Classes by Ramsay MacDonald's Communal Award. By September 23, a very reluctant Dr. Ambedkar was obliged by the pressure of this moral blackmail to accept representation through joint electorates instead. The result was the *Poona Pact*. In 1933, Gandhi replaced his journal "Young India" with a new one called "Harijan," and undertook a 21-day "self-purification fast" against untouchability (*Gandhi timeline*).
==1933==  Dr. Ambedkar participated in the work of the *Joint Committee on Indian Legislative Reform*, examining a number of significant witnesses.
== "In the year 1934, some of my co-workers in the movement of the depressed classes expressed a desire to go on a sight-seeing tour... [the story is continued in Part Four of Waiting for a Visa).
==1935==  Dr. Ambedkar was appointed Principal of the Government Law College, and became a professor there as well; he held these positions for two years. (--*Kadam*, p.106)
==1935==  In May, Dr. Ambedkar's wife Ramabai died after a long illness. Her great wish had been to make a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, but since as an untouchable she would not have been allowed to enter the temple, her husband had never allowed her to go.
==1935==  On Oct. 13th, Dr. Ambedkar presided over the Yeola Conversion Conference, held in Yeola, in Nasikh District (*Imperial Gazetteer*; *Imperial Gazetteer map*). He advised the Depressed Classes to abandon all agitation for temple-entry privileges; instead, they should leave Hinduism entirely and embrace another religion. He vowed, "I solemnly assure you that I will not die as a Hindu." (--*Keer*, p. 253.)
==c.1935==  The struggle for social justice began to receive increasing attention and support from progressive writers. Mulk Raj Anand's powerful novel "Untouchable" (1935) was followed by "Coolie" (1936), with a foreword by E. M. Forster; both works called international attention to caste and class injustices (*K. Satchidanandan*; *Andrew M. Stracuzzi*). In Hindi, there was the work of Premchand (*Premchand*).
==1935==  In December, Dr. Ambedkar was invited by the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal of Lahore (*Imperial Gazetteer*; *Imperial Gazetteer map,*), a caste-reform organization, to preside over its annual conference in the spring of 1936.
==1935/6==  He composed (or began to compose?), but did not publish, a brief, moving, and largely autobiographical memoir called *Waiting for a Visa*.
==1936==  On April 13-14th, he addressed the Sikh Mission Conference in Amritsar (*Imperial Gazetteer*; *Imperial Gazetteer map*), and reiterated his intention of renouncing Hinduism.
==1936==  In late April, the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal realized the radical nature of its guest's planned speech, and withdrew its earlier invitation. On May 15th, Dr. Ambedkar published the speech he would have given, with an introductory account of the whole controversy. The result, a slim little book called *The Annihilation of Caste*, became (in)famous at once.
==1936==  On May 31st, Dr. Ambedkar addressed the Mumbai Elaka Mahar Parishad (Bombay Mahar Society), during a meeting at Naigaum (Dadar), in Bombay. He spoke in Marathi, to his own people, with vividness and poignancy: *"What Path to Salvation?"*. This was the only time he addressed an audience expressly limited to Mahars. [--Eleanor Zelliot, personal communication, Jan. 2005]
==1936==In August, he founded his first political party, the Independent Labour Party, which contested 17 seats in the 1937 General Elections, and won 15. (--*Kadam*, pp.109-10)
==1936==  The Maharaja of Travancore (*Imperial Gazetteer*; *Gazetteer map*) issued a proclamation allowing temple entry to the Depressed Classes; this was the first such event in modern India. (--*Kadam*, p.110)
==1937==  Dr. Ambedkar published the second edition of *"The Annihilation of Caste"*, adding a concluding appendix that featured a debate with Gandhi over the speech. This work remained a bestseller, going through many editions in the coming years--and exciting much controversy. "It was logic on fire, pinching and pungent, piercing and fiery, provocative and explosive." (--*Keer*, p. 269.)
==1938==  Over Dr. Ambedkar's vigorous protests, in January Congress adopted Gandhi's own term "Harijans" ("Children of God") as the official name for the "scheduled castes." In protest against a term that he considered condescending and meaningless, Dr. Ambedkar and his party staged a walkout from the Bombay Legislative Assembly. Dr Ambedkar made a number of significant *speeches to the Assembly, 1938-39*. (--*Kadam*, p.111)
==1939==  In January, he delivered to the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics a lecture called *"Federation versus Freedom"*.
==1939==  During the debate over Congress's plan to leave the government in protest at not having been consulted about the declaration of war on Germany, Dr. Ambedkar made his own loyalties very clear: "Wherever there is any conflict of interests between the country and the Untouchables, so far as I am concerned, the Untouchables' interests will take precedence over the interests of the country. I am not going to support a tyrannising majority simply because it happens to speak in the name of the country.... As between the country and myself, the country will have precedence; as between the country and the Depressed Classes, the Depressed Classes will have precedence." (--*Keer*, p. 329.)
==1939==  In November, Congress left the government. Jinnah arranged the celebration of a "Day of Deliverance," and Dr. Ambedkar enthusiastically joined him. Dr. Ambedkar was careful to emphasize, however, that this was an anti-Congress rather than an anti-Hindu move; if Congress interpreted it as anti-Hindu, the reason could only be, he said, that Congress was a Hindu body after all. (--*Keer*, p. 330.)
== on to the 1940's ==
 

  -- TIMELINE page -- Dr. Ambedkar index page -- FWP's main page --