From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Mahad Satyagraha
Mains level : Dalit movement
- B.R. Ambedkar’s life was full of milestones, and he was the first Dalit to study at Elphinstone College in Bombay.
- He was also the chair of the drafting committee of the Constitution of India and became the first law minister of independent India.
- Moreover, he contributed significantly to the movement for Dalit emancipation, awakening Dalit consciousness and leading the community’s bid for political power.
Context of the Mahad Satyagraha
- The Mahad Satyagraha of 1927 was one of the earlier and most significant milestones in Ambedkar’s life.
- The events leading up to it began in August 1923, when the Bombay Legislative Council passed a resolution to allow the Untouchable classes to use all public water sources.
- Although the Bombay government adopted the resolution, the situation on the ground remained unchanged, with upper-caste Hindus still not allowing lower castes to access public water sources.
What happened at the Satyagraha?
- Ramchandra Babaji More, a Mahad-based Dalit political leader, approached Ambedkar to preside over a conference of the Untouchables in Konkan, and Ambedkar agreed.
- Around 2,500 delegates, workers, and leaders of Depressed Classes attended the conference, including boys of fifteen to old men of seventy.
- On the first day of the conference, progressive non-Dalit leaders addressed the attendees and promised to help them in their struggle.
- Ambedkar stressed creating “a wave of awakening” among the lower caste people of Konkan.
- After the day’s proceedings, Ambedkar and the other organizers and attendees marched to the nearby Chavadar tank the next morning, where people from untouchable communities were not allowed to draw water from.
- They implemented the resolution by picking up water with their cupped hands and drank it.
Key event: Burning of Manusmriti
- Despite the court injunction prohibiting Babasaheb and other Dalits from going to the tank or taking water from it until further orders, the Satyagraha was held on a much larger scale on December 26, 1927.
- Although most people wanted to go ahead, the Satyagraha was suspended on the advice of Ambedkar, and unlike the last time, no water was drawn from the Chavadar tank.
- Ambedkar and his followers burnt the Manusmriti, a powerful rejection of the caste system, for the first time in symbolic action.
Significance of the Satyagraha
- The Mahad Satyagraha is considered to be the “foundational event” of the Dalit movement.
- The community collectively displayed its resolve to reject the caste system and assert their human rights for the first time.
- It became the blueprint for organizing future movements against the caste system and its practices.
- It marked an important point in Ambedkar’s political journey, catapulting him to the leadership of the downtrodden and oppressed classes in the country.
Try this PYQ:
Which of the following parties were established by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar?
- The Peasants and Workers Party of India
- All India Scheduled Castes Federation
- The Independent Labour Party
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1, 2 and 3
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 2 and 3 only
Post your answers here.