Round Table Conferences

The three Round Table Conferences of 1930–32 were a series of conferences, organized by the British Government to discuss constitutional reforms in India.

First Round Table Conference (November 12, 1930 – January 19, 1931)

  • The conference was held in London  and chaired by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald.
  • In total 89 delegates from India attended the Conference.
  • The Indian National Congress, kept away from the conference. Many of them were in jail for their participation in Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • The Muslims claimed statutory majority in Punjab and Bengal, while Hindus resisted their imposition.

Gandhi-Irwin Pact

  • It refers to a political agreement signed by Mahatma Gandhi and the then Viceroy of India Lord Irwin on 5th March 1931.
  • As per the terms of the pact, the congress had to withdraw the Civil Disobedience Movement and they must take part in the second round table conference.

Second Round Table Conference (September – December 1931)

  • This conference was held in London during the viceroyalty of Lord Wellington.
  • Gandhiji was the sole representative of the Congress to the second Round Table Conference.
  • Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Sarojini Naidu, Ambedkar etc. attended the conference.
  • Gandhiji demanded for the establishment of a responsible government both at the Centre and the Provinces. He also demanded complete control over the finance, army, defence, and external relations.
  • British government refused to concede to these demands. So, the conference ended in failure.

Communal award

  • After the failure of second RTC British Prime Minister  Ramsay MacDonald  announced the Communal award in August 16, 1932.
  • The communal award granted the right of separate electorate, not only to the Muslims of India but also to all the minority community in the country.
  • The award also declared Untouchables as a Minority.
  • The award attracted severe criticism from Mahatma Gandhi. On 20 September 1932, Gandhiji declared a fast-unto-death to undo the provisions of the award.
  • The Congress rejected the award.

Poona Pact (1932)

  • The Poona Pact refers to an agreement between the untouchables (Depressed Classes) of India led by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and the Hindus of India, signed on 24 September 1932 at Yerwada Central Jail in Pune, India.
  • The untouchables are now popularly known as Dalits.
  • As per the pact, there shall be seats reserved for the Depressed Classes.
  • Election to these seats shall be by joint electorates subject.
  • In the central legislature 18% of the seats allotted to the general electorate for British India in the said legislature shall be reserved for the Depressed Classes. 

Third Round Table Conference (November – December 1932)

  • Only fourty-six delegates attended since most of the main political figures of India were not present.
  • The Labour Party from Britain and the Indian National Congress refused to attend.
  • The results of discussions of the three sessions of Round Table Conference were collected, summarized and published by the Government as the proposals for the Indian Constitution in a document named as White paper issued in March 1933