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Views of Gandhi on Reservation Policy

Both Gandhi and Ambedkar were opposed to caste-oppression, caste-discrimination and committed to transform the socio-economic and political status of untouchables. But their approach was different.

Gandhiji could never reconcile with Ambedkar’s arguments during Simon Commission proceedings for separate political rights for untouchables from that of Hindus. According to Gandhiji the terms of “Communal Award of 1932 will ensure them (untouchables) bondage in perpetuity.’ He asked, “Do you want the untouchables to remain untouchable for ever. What is needed is destruction of untouchability.”

Gandhi’s’ approach was to do it in an unobtrusive way. He advised untouchables to fight against oppression through awareness, education and self-confidence by adopting cleaner habits and not using foul language, overcoming their weaknesses, thus by bringing reform from within. At the same time, he made efforts to arouse the conscience of caste-Hindus by advising them to treat untouchables humanly.

Gandhiji always believed in a good balance between rights and duties, giving importance to means as well as ends and considering basic values of life to be extremely important for development. Gandhiji never believed in superficial measures – Reservations being one of them. Some of his views are: –

 “So far, as the Reservation in Government Departments is concerned, I think, it will be fatal to a good Government, if we introduce there the communal spirit. For administration to be efficient, it must be always in the hands of the fittest. There should certainly be no favoritism…. If we want five engineers, we must not take one from each community, but we must take the fittest of five, even if they were all Muslims or all Parsis. The lowest poor must, if need be, filled by examination by an impartial board consisting of men belonging to different communities.”

 “Distribution of posts should never be according to the proportion of members of each community…. The educationally backward communities will have a right to receive favored treatment in the matter of education at the hands of the national Government. This can be secured in an effective manner. But those, who aspire to occupy responsible posts in the Government of the country, can only do, if they pass the required test.”

Gandhiji, unlike Ambedkar was not an individual crusader. He was a man of mass action. He converted Tilak’s revolutionary Mantra, “Swaraj” into mass struggle for national regeneration through Tilak’s four-fold program – Swadeshi, boycotts, prohibition and national education. He preached what he did and practiced himself. He suggested to respect all kinds of work and to ready to do any work – even scavenging, without any hesitation. He himself did it along with the untouchable.

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September 12, 2011 - Posted by | Reservation/Affirmative action program |

18 Comments »

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    Comment by Ambuj Tripathi | December 9, 2011 | Reply

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      Comment by latasinha | December 10, 2011 | Reply

  2. Can you tell me where Mahatma Gandhi said ,”Panch varsha yaa mere praan” ?

    Comment by Dr O P Pandey | January 14, 2013 | Reply

  3. What r the percentage of resevations of all castes & its on statewise or all caste wise.?

    Comment by chandrakant. kamble | November 30, 2013 | Reply

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  17. do we need a reservation policy? Instead of that why can’t they help the low caste citizens for their education. This is just increasing the discriminations between the people.

    Comment by citizen of india | August 4, 2015 | Reply


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