SEPARATE COLONES WANTED
SCHEDULED CASTES’ DEMAND
Future Constitution Should Have Their Prior Approval
MADRAS, Sept. 23−”Scheduled Castes in India are a distinct and separate element in the national life of the country. No constitution will be acceptable to them unless it has their consent and it recognized them as a separate element. While they were eager for a settlement of the communal problem, they disapprove “the secret negotiations which are being carried on by Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah”
These formed the burden of the several resolutions adopted by the Working Committee of the All-India Scheduled Castes Federation at its meeting held this afternoon at Mr. N. Sivaraj’s house, Royapettah. Mr. N. Sivaraj, President, presided.
Out of 23 members 14 were present. Those who attended the meeting were Messrs B. K. Gaekwad, Y. S. Pagare and B. H. Varale (Bombay), Messrs. R. V. Kavade and D. L. Patil (Central Provinces). Mr. Seth Kishen Doss (the Punjab).
Messrs. J. N. Mandol, R. L. Biswas and H. N. Sinha (Bengal), Messrs. E. Vadapalle, Dharmalingam and N. Sivaraj Madras), Dr. M. N. Saikia (Assam) and Mr. P. N. Rajabhoj, General Secretary of the Federation.
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Labour Member. Viceroy’s Executive Council was present at the meeting on Special invitation.
The meeting voted confidence in Dr. Ambedkar and authorized him to negotiate on behalf of the Federation with other political parties and their leaders.
After adopting the report submitted by the General Secretary regarding the working of the Federation and its branches the meeting adopted a number of resolutions affecting the future of the Scheduled Castes.
SCHEDULED CASTES – A SEPARATE ELEMENT
The Committee stated that the Scheduled Castles were a religious minority in a sense far more real than the Sikhs and Muslims and within the meaning of the Cripps proposals. The Committee pointed out that the Scheduled Castes were one of the separate elements in the national life of the country. This had been the position from the very beginning and was enunciated in clear terms as early as 1917 by the authors of the Montague Chelmsford Report and had been confirmed by subsequent actions of His Majesty’s Government such as the grant of separate representation to the Scheduled Castes at the Round Table Conference, Joint Parliamentary Committee and in the Government of India Act. 1935. The Соmmittee called upon the роlitical leaders, particularly the Hindu leaders, to accept that fact in the interest of peace and goodwill between the Hindus and Scheduled Castes and for the speedy realization of India’s political goal. The Committee welcomed the declaration made by the Viceroy that His Majesty’s Government regarded the consent of the Scheduled Castes among others as a matter of vital importance for the constitution of a free India and as a necessary condition precedent for the trans1er of power to Indian hands. The Working Committee declared that no constitution would be acceptable to the Scheduled Castes unless (a) it has the consent of the Scheduled Castes, (b) it recognized them as a distinct and Separate element and (c) it contained within itself provisions for earmarking a definite sum in the budgets of the Provincial and Central Governments for the secondary, university and advanced education of the members of the Scheduled Castes, for reservation of Government lands for separate settlements for them through a Settlement Commission, and for representation of the Scheduled Castes according to their numbers, needs and importance in the legislatures, in the Executive, in Municipalities and local boards, in the public Services and the Public Services Commissions. It should also recognize the above provisions as fundamental rights beyond the powers of the Legislature or the Executive to amend, alter or abrogate. The Committee also asked for the appointment of an Officer similar in status to that of the Auditor-General in the like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge-of-the Federal Court to report on the working of the provisions relating to fundamental rights.
GANDHI-JINNAH TALKS DISAPPROVED
While the Working Committee was most eager for a settlement of the communal problem, it “wholly disapproves of the secret negotiations”, which were being carried on by Mahatma Gandhi and Mr. Jinnah. The Committee expressed the view that communal settlement of a sectional character was harmful in every way because it ignored the vital interests of other communities and created a feeling of suspicion in Other communities that a dishonest deal was being made between two communities to defeat their interests. The meeting expressed Surprise that Mahatma Gandhi, who had proclaimed himself as an opponent of secrecy in public life should have entered into a secret diplomacy to bring about a Hindu-Muslim settlement. In the Committee’s view the proper procedure to settle the communal question, which would give a sense of security and ensure fair and equal treatment to all, was to discuss time demands put forth by each interest in public and in the presence of and with the representatives of other interests.
The Working Committee considered the giving of weightage to minorities as harmful to the interest of other minorities and demanded that in view of the fact that the next constitution of India would be for India as a Dominion, the provisions of the Constitution relating to minorities should be revised and should be brought in accord with the principle of equal treatment of all minorities. In this respect the Scheduled Castes would not tolerate any discrimination between one community and another in the matter of representation and would insist in their claim for seats in the Provincial And Central Legislatures and in the Executives being adjudged in the same manner and by the same principles that night be made applicable to the claims of the Muslim community. The Committee demanded the abolition of the system of joint electorates and reserved seats and favored the institution of the system of separate electorates. The Committee expressed the opinion that the system of Parliamentary Cabinet was not suited to Indian conditions and that a different system under which :utives being adjudged in the same in consultation with the wishes of the minorities should be designed to give them a better sense of security.
THE FUTURE PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE
The Working Committee insisted that he Executive in the Provinces as well as in the Centre should be constituted in the following manner:-(i) The Executive should consist of a Prime Minister and other ministers drawn from general community and from minority communities in a proportion to be specified in the Constitution; (ii) The Prime Minister and Ministers drawn from the general community should be elected to the executive by the whole house by single transferable vote: (iii) The Ministers representing the minority communities should be chosen by the members representing the different communities by single transferable vote: (iv) The members of the Executive should be members of the Legislature, shall answer questions, vote and take part in debates; (v) Any vacancy in the Executive should be filled In accordance with rules governing the Original appointments, and (vi) The period for which the Executive should hold office should be co-terminus with the life of the Legislature.
The Committee demanded that the new constitution for India should recognize the right of the Scheduled Castes to reservation in the Public Services in the same proportion as might be applied to the claims of the Muslim community. It requested the Government both in the Provinces and at the Centre to set apart adequate sums for the provision of higher education to Scheduled Caste members
SEPARATE SETTLEMENT NEEDED
The Working Committee was of the view that so long as the Scheduled Castes continued to live on the outskirts Of the Hindu village, as an alien people, with no source of livelihood and in small numbers as compared to Hindus, they would continue to remain Untouchables and ~:u’-*–* to the tyranny and oppression of the Hindus and Would not be able to enjoy free and full life, and that for the better protection of the Scheduled Castes from the tyranny and oppression of the Caste Hindus, which might take a worse form under Swaraj, and to enable the Scheduled Castes to develop to their fullest manhood, to give them economic and Social Security as also to pave the way for the removal of untouchability, the Constitution should provide— For the transplantation of the Scheduled Castes from their present habitations and form separate Scheduled Caste villages away from and independent of Hindu villages. For the settlement of the Scheduled Castes in new villages a provision should be made by the Constitution for the establishment of a Settlement Commission. All Government land which was cultivable and which was not occupied and land which might be reclaimed should be handed over to the Commission to be held in trust for the purpose of making new settlements of the Scheduled Castes. The Commission should be empowered to purchase new land under the Land Acquisition Act from private owners to complete the scheme of settlements of the Scheduled Castes. The Constitution should provide that the Central Government should grant to the Settlement Commission a minimum sum of rupees five crores per annum to enable it to carry out their duty in this behalf. The meeting finally adopted a resolution placing complete confidence on Dr. Ambedkar and authorizing him to negotiate on behalf of the Scheduled Castes Federation with other political parties and its leaders as and when necessities arose. Calcutta has been tentatively fixed as the venue of the next session of the Working Committee meeting.
Dr. Ambedkar’s Advice To Labour
MADRAS, Sept. 24.—”The capture of political power is far more important than organizing trade unions,” observed Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Labour Member of the Government of India, last evening addressing a public meeting held under the auspices of the M.&.S.M. Railway Employees at the premises of the European and Anglo-Indian Institute, Perambur. Mr. G. Krishnamurthi presided.
Mr. M. Sivasubramaniam extended a Welcome to Dr. Ambedkar Mr. G. Krishnamurthi, Chairman, read an address to Dr. Ambedkar on behalf of the M. & S. M. Railway Employees. Another address on behalf of the M. & S. M. Railway Employees 8n8 to the Scheduled Castes was also геаd.
Dr. Ambedkar said that he was happy that in Madras for the first time the Scheduled Castes and “the non-Scheduled Castes’ had joined together in one meeting showing that notwithstand1ng the system of untouchability, it was possible for all workmen to realise that the common source of their suffering was poverty and that all those who suffer from poverty must stand shoulder to shoulder in order to see that their poverty was put an end to.” .
Referring to the address presented by the Scheduled Castes which requested him to see that at least a fair amount of employment on the railways, posts and telegraphs and other services was given to them, Dr. Ambedkar said that the Government of India had resolved to set apart 13 per cent for them. But it was found in the present educational advancement of their community only 8-13 per cent could be reserved for them Hence the Scheduled Castes had no grievances in this matter. Regarding the plea for their representation on Staff Selection Boards and Recruitment Committees, Dr. Ambedkar said that the matter pertained to the portfolio of Railways and added he would. however, take up the matter with the Railway Member. Passing on to the general address presented by the Railway employees, Dr. Ambedkar said that his department had not yet established its position, like the Finance Department which had the last word in matters financial and he hoped that ere long his department would also reach the position where its word in labour matters would be final. Proceeding, Dr. Ambedkar said that while he did not minimise the Importance of trade unions, he would ask them to remember that the capturing of political power was far more important than organising Trade Unions. Without getting their share in the sovereign authority in the land, they would never succeed in solving the labour problem. The Labour Member added that labour ought to fight for at least 50 percent representation in the Government of India itself. He advised them to insist for 30 per cent of the seats in the new constitution. “The war is coming to a close,” continued Dr. Ambedkar “and notwithstanding the difficulties lying ahead in the way of this country, we shall have some political advancement. I have no doubt that in spite of all our political difficulties we will be able to reach a on amount of political unity which will enable us -to get, if not independence, at least Dominion Status. If at that time labour is ready with its political demands asking for a minimum number of seats in the executive and legislature, I have no doubt the future of labour will be safe in this country.” Mr. R. de K. Maynard. General Manager of the M. & S. M. Railway, said that labour’s interests were safe in Dr. Ambedkar’s hands.