The Depressed classes Mission Society of India
During the early years of the first decade of this century, the attention of Mr. V. R. Shinde, who was then a Missionary of the Bombay Prarthana Samaj, was drawn by certain efforts at advancement put forth by a few members of a depressed class, who had happened to come under his influence as missionary. He then set himself to a special study of the problem of the uplift of such communities, and came to the conclusion that what was needed was not mere machinery of education, but an organisation in which the personal element would enliven the whole, and which would at once develop and reform the traditions and the religious and social life of those people.
In October, 1906, the late Mr. D. G. Sukhadwala, Vice-President of the Bombay Prarthana Samaj, gave one thousand repees as an initial contribution towards the funds of such a Mission, and forthwith Sir Narayan Chandavarkar, Presdent of the Samaj, was invited to inaugurate the Mission by opening its first school at Parel on the 18th of that month. In September, 1908, the Mission received from H. E. Sir, George Clarke, the then Governor of Bombay, Rs. 3,467-13-6 as the proceeds of a concert given in aid of the Mission by Miss Clarke. In 1912, the Trustees of the estates of the late Mr. N. M. Wadia gave an annual grant of Rs. 6,000 for three years ending in December 1914, which enabled the Mission to develop its Free Boarding Institutions and Technical Schools. A princely gift in 1913 of Rs. 20,000 from H. H. Maharaja, Sir, Tukojirao Holkar of Indore resulted in a scheme of a Home at Poona.
The Society is now an independent body seeking to promote the interests of the Depressed classes in the whole of India as far as opportunity and finances allow.
The Society had, till 1924, Several incorporated branches under it, and a large number of affiliated centres throughout the country, with over 70 educational institutions. The total annual expenditure of the Society was then considerably over Rs. 30,000. Besides, the headquarters in the city of Bombay, there were the following incorporated brancehs:- Poona (Maharashtra Branch), Nagpur (Central Provinces), Hubli (Karnatak Branch), Bangalore (tamil Branch), Since then the Hubli Branch has been closed.
The largest Centre of the Mission is at Poona with the following institutions.- (1) The Central Primary and English Boy’s School, (2) The Debate and Sports Club, (3) The Bhajan Samaj and Sunday Classes, (4) V. R. Shinde Free Reading Room, (5) Tailoring. Carpentry and Paintin Classes, (6) Bhangi Hatti Feeder School, (7) The Students’ Hostel, (8) The Ahalyashram Girl’s School, (9) The Ahalayashram Night School, (10) Dr. Khedkar Free Medical Dispensary, (11) The 9th Poona City Shahu B. S. Troop, (12) The Weekly Sangat Sabha.
Besides these institutions, the offices of the Deccan Adi-Hindu Social Club. The Adi Hindu newspaper, and the Anti-untouchability Conferences are located in the Ashram of the Mission.
The Report of the Poona Branch for the three years ending on 31st March 1926. Had the following para about its origin:-
“Without initial funds, with scanty promisee of pecuniary help, many of which were not fulfilled, but with strong faith that God would help, a Day School was opened in a rented upper storey of a Marwari’s house, in the Centre Street of Poona Camp on 22nd June 1908, if we look back to the last seventy years we can find that in the early sixties of the last centrury a band of men charitably disposed towards the Depressed classes. With the late Mr. Jotirao Phule, the founder of the Satya-Sodhak Samaj, and its most active members, had started a school for the Depressed classes of Poona. So far as we could find out after much carreful investigation, it can be stated that this was perhaps the first school of its kind in India, the seed as it were, of our present Society.
Out of the area of about 10 acres, now in our possession, 7 acres originally belonged to this School.”
New Buildings opened in 1924-The Following new buildings were opened by His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Leslie Wilson, Governor of Bombay, on the 28th October, 1924, the foundation having been laid in 1921 by H. H. Sir, Shri Kantirava Narasimhaaj Wadiar Bahadur, G. C. I. E., Yuvaraja of Maysore.
|(1)||central Primary Boy’s School Building||38,920||3||4|
|(2)||Technical School Building||20,111||14||8|
|(3)||Students’ Hostel and Kitchen Building||14,292||13||6|
|(5)||Bathrooms, Urinals, Latrines and Drainage||8,551||8||0|
|(6)||Wire Fence and Miscellaneous||4,942||15||10|
|(7)||Paid to P. W. D. as Supervision Charges at 2 P. C.||2,118||0||0|
The total Government grant received on account of these buildings was Rs. 87,118, the Mission having spent Rs. 25,197-8-0 from its own funds.
The Progress attained by the Depressed Classes:-
The following is an extract from the Annual Report of the Poona Branch Submitted on the 5th September, 1921, by Rev. V. R. Shinde, the General Secreatary, and adopted by the committee.-
“Perhaps the Mission will reach a stage much sooner than supposed in these days of rapid development, when it may cease as a mission, and continue as an Association of the Depressed Classes for self-amelioration.”
It is a happy sign that the local Depressed classes workers, especially of the Adi-Hindu Mahar Community, are trying to help the Mission by their own humble, personal services, as well as resources.
The first D. C. M. Graduate-
The first graduate of this Mission is Mr. Maruti Kalugi Jadhav, who passed his B. A. Examination with second class Honours in Sanskrit in 1925, through the new Poona college. Mr. Jadhav had been a Hostel student of the Mission at bombay and Poona for number of years. Side by side with his studies for the M. A. Examination, he took up part-time teaching work in the Poona Mission Central School on a very moderate salary.
Spiritual and Social Activities-
Under the guidance of its President, Shri V. R. Shinde, the Spiritual Work Committee, of the Mission tries to serve the depressed Classes spiritually, Daily Prayers, Thursday Night Sangat Sabha, Gita classes, Sunday Divine Services, and Women’s Weekly meetings are regularly held. Anniversary Days of Buddhadeva, Raja Rammohan Ray, Mahatma Jotirao Phule, Akbar, Shivaji and Shahu Maharaj, Devi Ahalyabai, Sant Chokha Mela, Namdeo, and others are observed.
AH-India Anti-untouchability conferences-
Since the very beginning of the Mission, along with its educational and other constructive work, the founder Mr. V. r. Shinde, trained up a band of wholly devoted workers as well as part-time volunteers for the sacrred cause of the removal of untouchability, and with their help organised a vigorous propaganda. He attended nearly every session of the Indian National congress, throughout India with a view to promoting the Anti-untouchability movement. The following are the sessions of the All-India Anti-untouchability Conferences, which were organized by him with great success:-
||1907||Surat||Mr. Satyendranath Tagore.
||1908||Bankipore||Rao Bahadur Mudholkar C. I. E.|
||1910||Madras||Hon’ble Mr. G. K. Gokhale|
||1912||Karachi||Lala Lajpat Rai|
||1918||Bombay||H. H. Sir Sayajirao Gaikwad Mahatma Gandhi|
||Poona||Mr. B. Chakra Narayan,Advocate|
||1924||Belgaum||Mr. C. Ramling Reddy|
||1925||Amraoti||Hon’ble Mr. B. V. Jadhav|
||1927||Bangalore||Mr. Jamnalal Bajaj|
|October||1931||Poona||Mr. V. R. Shinde|
The following are the sessions of the Bombay Provincial Antiuntouchability Conferences Which were organised by the Society:-
|1912||Poona||Dr. Sir R. G. Bhandarkar|
|1918||Bajapore||Hon’ble Mr. B. S. Kamat|
|1919||Sholapur||Hon’ble D. V. Belvi|
|1923||Poona||Khan Bahadur D. B. Cooper|
|1926||Poona||Mr. K. G. Bagade|
|1931||Ratnagiri||Mr. Vinayakrao Savarkar, Bar-at-Law.|
All-India Anti-untonchability League-
Being encouraged with the success achieved in the experiment of the Anti-untouchability movement, Mr. Shinde, was emboldemed in founding the All-India Anti-untouchability League in Poona, and for the first time in the history of the Indian Social Reform Movement, the following resolution was passed unanimously in the All-India Anti-Untouchability Conference held in Bombayin 1918 under the Presdientship of H. H. Sir, Shri Sayajirao Gaikwad, Maharaja of Baroda:-
“This Conference is of opinion that the condition of untouchability imposed upon the depressed classes in India ought forthwith to be abolished, and for this purpose calls upons influential and representative leader of thought and action in every province to issue a manifesto abolishing such untouchability and enabling these classes to have free and unrestricted access to public benefit and at public expense, and also to public places such as wells, springs, reservoirs, municipal stand-pipes, burning and bathing ghats, places of amusement, business, and worship & C. & C.”
Proposed by Mr. M. R. Jayakar, Bar-at-Law, Bombay.
Seconded by Mr. Lakshmidas R. Tairsee of Bombay.
Supported by Pandit Balkrishna Sharma of Baroda and Prof. G. C. Bhate of Poona.
All-India Anti-untouchability Manifesto-
With a view to giving practcal effect to the above resolution, an All-India Anti-untouchability Manifesto signed by thousands o influential people from all provinces of India was issued through the efforts of Mr. Shinde.
Congress and Untouchability-
After strrenuous endeavours for ten years, Mr. Shinde eventually succeeded in getting the Indian National Congress in its session at Calcutta in December 1917 under the sympathetic Presidentship of Mrs. Beasant, to pass for the first time the following important resolution:-
“This Congress urges upon the people of India the necessity, justice, and righteousness of removing all disabilities imposed upon the Depressed classes, the disabilities being of a most vexatious and appressive character, subjecting these people to considerable hardship and inconvenience.”
Proposed by Mr. G. A. Natesan of Madras.
Seconded by Mr. S, R, Bomanji of Calcutta,
Supported by Mr. S. K. Damle of Poona and Mr. Rama Ayyar of Calicut.
Mr. Shinde further succeeded in drawing the attention of Mahatma Gandhi to this problem in the session of the Congress held at Nagpur In 1920, snf in the very next session at Ahmedabad, Mahatmaji incorporated the issue of removing untouchability as an essential plank of the Congress propaganda.
The Depressed Classes and Untouchability (Page No. 5 to 13)
Satish chandra Chakravarti, M. A. and
Savogendra Nath Ray, M. A. 1933.