The 1931 Poona Pact shaped India’s Dalit political representation, and its implications are felt even in today’s parliamentary elections. At the heart of it lay a fundamental difference in their points of view. While Gandhi saw untouchability as a social issue, Ambedkar understood caste as a political one. The Gandhi Ambedkar conflict was over how to understand caste. Ambedkar insisted, for the first time in India’s modern history, that caste was a political question, and couldn’t be addressed by social reforms only.
Unlike Ambedkar, Gandhi felt that any exploitative relationship could be rectified only when the exploiter had a change of heart. So he worked with upper castes to change their mindset
For India’s 300 million scheduled caste people, the legacy of the Poona Pact lives to this day, and many Ambedkarite scholars have argued, fundamentally distorted the form of representation of Dalits.India today reserves seats in Parliament and assemblies for SCs in proportion to their population. For example, in the Lok Sabha, 84 of the 543 seats are reserved for members of SC communities. The idea of political reservation is getting extended to reservation in employment and in education. This has not only empowered them politically but also empowered them socially also.
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