- The Harijan campaign launched by Gandhi was a significant movement aimed at addressing the issue of untouchability and social discrimination faced by the so-called “Untouchable” communities in India. Here are some key points about the movement and its impact:
- Purpose of the Campaign: The campaign was primarily focused on purifying Hinduism and Hindu society by eradicating untouchability. Gandhi emphasized that untouchability was against human dignity and went against the principles of equality and social justice.
- Publications: Gandhi started publishing the weekly journal “Harijan” in 1933, which was published in English, Gujarati (Harijan Bandu), and Hindi (Harijan Sevak). These publications aimed to raise awareness about untouchability and promote social reforms.
- Reaction to the Communal Award: Gandhi strongly opposed the Communal Award of 1932, which proposed separate electorates for different communities. He went on a fast in protest, which led to the signing of the Poona Pact, ensuring joint electorates and increased representation for the Depressed Classes (Harijans) in legislative bodies.
- Harijan Yatra: In November 1933, Gandhi embarked on a country-wide tour known as the “Harijan Yatra.” The tour aimed to break down barriers between untouchables and the rest of Hindu society, promoting unity and social integration. Despite facing opposition from conservative forces, the tour generated enthusiasm and awareness about untouchability.
- Impact on National and Peasant Movements: The Harijan campaign helped in bringing the message of nationalism to the Harijan communities, who were primarily agricultural labourers. Their increased participation in the national and peasant movements contributed to their empowerment and raised their voices against social discrimination.
- Internal Reforms by Harijans: Gandhi’s campaign also focused on internal reform within the Harijan communities. It included initiatives related to education, cleanliness, hygiene, giving up alcohol consumption, and addressing untouchability within their own communities.
- Legislative Reforms: The Harijan campaign had a positive impact on legislation. In 1938, the Madras legislature passed the Removal of Civil Disabilities Act, which prevented Harijans from being disabled from social or public amenities. The Madras legislature also passed the Malabar Temple Entry Act, opening temples in Malabar to untouchables.
- Constitutional Prohibition of Untouchability: After India gained independence, the practice of untouchability was constitutionally abolished. The Protection of Civil Rights Act, of 1955, made untouchability an offence and provided legal protection against discrimination.
- Overall, the Harijan campaign played a significant role in raising awareness about untouchability, promoting social reforms, and empowering the Harijan communities in India. It contributed to the broader movement for social justice, equality, and the eradication of discrimination in Indian society.
The Harijan movement led by Gandhi had significant significance and impact on Indian society. Here are the key points regarding its significance and impact:
- Purification of Hinduism and Society: The movement aimed to purify Hinduism and Hindu society by challenging and eradicating the practice of untouchability. Gandhi emphasized the importance of equality and human dignity, and the movement sought to bring about social reform within Hindu society.
- Nationalism and Harijans: The campaign helped carry the message of nationalism to the Harijan communities, who were primarily agricultural labourers. Through their participation in the movement, they became more aware of their rights and role in the national and peasant movements, contributing to their empowerment and social inclusion.
- Internal Reform by Harijans: Gandhi’s movement included a program of internal reform within the Harijan communities themselves. This encompassed various aspects such as education, cleanliness, hygiene, abstaining from alcohol consumption, and addressing untouchability within their own communities. It aimed to bring about positive changes and upliftment from within.
- Legislative Reforms: The movement had a direct impact on legislation. In 1938, the Madras legislature passed the Removal of Civil Disabilities Act, ensuring that Harijans would not be disabled from any social or public amenity. Additionally, the Madras legislature passed the Malabar Temple Entry Act, which opened temples in Malabar to untouchables, enabling their access to places of worship.
- Constitutional Prohibition of Untouchability: After India gained independence, untouchability was constitutionally abolished. The Protection of Civil Rights Act, of 1955, made any form of untouchability or discrimination based on caste an offence. This legal framework provided protection and ensured the eradication of untouchability from Indian society.
- Overall, the Harijan movement had a profound impact on society, bringing about legislative reforms, promoting internal reform within the Harijan communities, and contributing to the constitutional prohibition of untouchability. It was a significant step towards creating a more inclusive and egalitarian society in post-independence India.
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