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The Limits of Civil Disobedience

Not all social groups were moved by the abstract concept of Swaraj.

  • The Congress had ignored the Dalits, for fear of offending the conservative high-caste Hindus.

  • Mahatma Gandhi declared that Swaraj would not come for a hundred years if untouchability was not eliminated. He called the ‘untouchables’ harijan, or the children of God,

  • Dr B.R. Ambedkar, who organised the Dalits into the Depressed Classes Association in 1930, clashed with Mahatma Gandhi at the second Round Table Conference by demanding separate electorates for Dalits.

  • The dalit movement, however, continued to be apprehensive of the Congress led national movement.

  • After the decline of the Non-Cooperation-Khilafat movement, a large section of Muslims felt alienated from the Congress

  • Muhammad Ali Jinnah, one of the leaders of the Muslim League, was willing to give up the demand for separate electorates, if Muslims were assured reserved seats in the Central Assembly

  • M.R. Jayakar of the Hindu Mahasabha strongly opposed efforts at compromise.

When the Civil Disobedience Movement started there was thus an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust between communities.

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