16th June in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar advised Gandhi to focus on securing full rights for untouchables


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16 June 1934: Meeting between Dr Ambedkar and Gandhi[1], which was as follows:

‘In the afternoon Dr. Ambedkar interviewed Gandhiji along with Dr. Solanki and other friends of his. Gandhiji asked Dr. Ambedkar for a criticism of the work of the Harijan Sevak Sangh. Theworthy Doctor suggested that the Sangh might economize on education and medical relief, as these were attended to by Government and there was a risk of duplication of effort in these matters. Again, education, in the first place, only benefited the individual; whether it would benefit society or not would depend upon what attitude the educated individual took up towards society. He would like the Sangh to concentrate on the primary object of securing full civic rights for Harijans, such as the right to draw water from public wells and to send children to public schools, without any discrimination being exercised against them. As regards cases of maltreatment of Harijans by villagers, such as those adduced by Dr. Ambedkar, Gandhiji said the Sangh was bound to deal with them. In fact, steps had actually been taken in numerous cases with more or less success. But in future Gandhiji would be glad if the Doctor was good enough to send him full facts about every incident of that description. In course of his tour of villages he had noticed that a change for the better was coming over them, but progress in that direction would be accelerated if he had the Doctor’s valued co-operation. As regards education, Gandhiji did not think there was overlapping. In fact, the Sangh was unable to cope with the whole demand, as the right type of teachers was not readily available.’

16th June

[1] Reported in Harijan newspaper 29 June 1934

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