महर्षी विठ्ठल रामजी शिंदे

१०. साउथबरो कमिशनपुढील साक्षी
महर्षी विठ्ठल रामजी शिंदे

From the report of the Reforms Committee (Franchise)
Vol. II, Printed In 1919

The Committee was constituted as under :—
The Rt. Hon. Lord Southborough, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., G.C.M.C. (Chairman)
Sir Frank G. Sly. K.C.S.I., I.C.S.
Sahibzada Aftab Ahmed Khan
The Hon’ble Babu Surendranath Banerjee.
The Hon’ble Mr. M. N. Hogg.
W. M. Hailey, Esq., C.S.I., C.I.E., I.C.S.
The Hon’ble Mr. Srinivasa Sastri
(Not present on 25-1-1919 and 27-1-1919).

And the following added members :
L. C. Crump, Esq., I.C.S.
K. Natarajan, Esq.
P. C. Tallents, Esq., I.C.S. (Secretary)

(1) V. R. Shinde, Esq.
(Written Statement)

6753. ...As I was among those who organised the All-India Maratha Conference held in Belgaum on the 10th and 11th of November 1917 and especially interested in the 5th resolution regarding the widening of franchise, I beg to quote here that resolution as follows, Resolution 5th :—

“Considering the fact that the major portion of the Maratha is chiefly dependent for its maintenance upon Agriculture, Military Service, Factory labour and its constant backward economic condition, this Conference is of opinion that in order to represent them in the Imperial and Provincial Legislative Councils, Local Boards and Municipalities, it is necessary that the franchise should be extended on the following lines :—

(a) The limit of the franchise in the case of Agriculturists should not exceed the amount of Rs. 10 of their annual land assessment.

(b) In the case of Factory, Mill, Dock and other labourers the limit of the franchise should not exceed the amount of Rs. 10 of their monthly earnings.

(c) In the case of the Sepoys in the Army and other public servants the limit of the franchise should not exceed the amount of Rs. 10/- of their monthly salary.

6754. ...Even though it may be found for practical reasons not advisable to widen the franchise to such an extent in general, I still think that the right should be so extended to the depressed classes as a special concession in view of their social disabilities and poverty as to lower the minimum limit of their property qualification to a fixed income of not lower than Rs. 144/- per annum and their educational qualification to having passed the 4th Marathi standard in any primary school recognised by Government. A person belonging to any of the classes described as “Depressed” in the Indian Census Reports for 1901 and being qualified in either of the above ways should be entitled to vote. As to others, I held that right to vote should be granted to all who either can show a fixed annual income of Rs. 300 from any source or have read up to at least any Vernacular School Final examination.

6755. ...For the following figures which I have worked up from the Census Report of 1901, with a view to compare the total strength of the depressed classes to that of Hindus in India will show what vast numbers will be benefited by this concession.
6756. ...Extracted from the Indian Census Report of 1901 :-
Table 1 (For pdf Click Here)

6757. ...The Depressed Classes Mission Society of India, of which I am the General Secretary from the beginning, has been trying to remove the bar of untouchability from these classes, for the last twelve years. A special effort is being made through an Anti-Untouchability Movement since the last year. Though from my personal experiences during my recent tour in Southern India I see a good hope of this bar being shaken to some preceptible extent in the near future, if not removed entirely, I still feel sure that nothing will facilitate that and more effectively than by admitting to councils of Government as well as the Local Bodies at least a few members belonging to these depressed communities and elected by them directly through their own separate electorates. And hence I feel personally the necessity of extending the franchise to them as stated above.
2 Reserved Seats

6758. ...For the Bombay Presidency supposing that there will be all 150 seats in the Legislative Council, I think there should be reserved at least five seats to be filled by members of the depressed classes, one for each of the divisions viz. Karnatak, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Sindh and the fifth for the City of Bombay. Members should be elected to those seats from candidates themselves belonging to any of the so- called depressed classes, and openly contesting for these seats, by separate electorates specially constituted for these four linguistic divisions and the City of Bombay. The constitution of such separate electorates is to my mind not impossible at all but highly beneficial to these communities, by way of political training and as a step towards social uplift.

Mr. V. R. Shinde called and examined

6759. ...(Sir Frank Sly) He was a missionary of the Brahmo Samaj and General Secretary of the Depressed Classes Mission. He appeared before the Committee to press the claims of the depressed classes especially. His written statement represented his own views and substantially the views of the Mission.

6760. ...He was a Maratha before he became a Brahmo missionary. The Marathas were suffering from the same disadvantages as the depressed classes, and were concerned with them educationally.

6761. ...The backward and depressed classes could not be joined together in the same constituencies.

6762. ...He insisted upon the necessity for a low franchise for the depressed classes. So far as factory and mill labour was concerned, every person earning Rs. 12/- a month should have a vote. Employees could be compelled under penalty to give certificates of the amount earned, and arrangements could be made to ascertain the income of Persons who were not employees. These difficulties did not justify the withholding of the franchise from these classes. With experience they would learn to exercise the vote with a due sense of responsibility.

6763 ...The untouchables should be given special consideration, because there was no other way in which to remove their untouchability. The fact that the other members of the Council would have to co-operate with an untouchable would tend to a very great extent to remove their disability.

6764. ...There would be no difficulty in finding fit and proper men among the depressed classes to represent their interests in the Council. There was one B. A., one L. M. and S. and b or 7 matriculates among them. The ability to understand conversational English should be a sufficient qualification for becoming a member of Council.

6765. ...He proposed 5 seats for the depressed classes in the Legislative Council; subsequently he had come to the opinion that the minimum should not be less than 9 with 7 constituencies. The total population of the depressed classes was 23,54,843.

6766. ...The depressed classes were the classes described as “untouchables”. It was the definition used in the Census Report, and Government had adopted it. This did not include criminals and hill tribes. An untouchable was one whom an ordinary Hindu would not touch on ceremonial occasions. Any class that was untouchable to one Hindu caste was untouchable to all.

6767. ...(Mr. Aftab) In case the depressed classes could not make up the full number of 9 among themselves, they should have the right to elect from higher castes provided the candidate was a Hindu. This was necessary as otherwise the seats might remain vacant.

6768. ...The interests of the depressed classes were so many that one member could not adequately represent them.

6769. ...Although there was no legal bar, they could not be members of municipalities, district local boards, taluka local boards, etc. Even Government found it impossible to remove the bar. In the public services Government officials had confessed that for the purpose of maintaining peace they could not admit the depressed classes even to the subordinate services. That was a very serious disability. If greater representation was given to them in the Council they would be able, by facts and figures, to put forward their grievances.

6770. ...Many successful prosecutions of members of the depressed classes had been instituted for touching a water pipe, or entering a temple.

6771. ...(Mr. Banerjea) Provisionally he admitted that there was certain amount of efficiency required for the public services apart from any considerations of caste, creed or colour. But this consideration ought not to be insisted upon too much in the case of the depressed classes.

6772. ...Government ought to relax the standard of educational qualification in the case of these people because they were partly responsible for not giving them education. By giving them representation in the Council their grievances would be most effectively remedied, as they could then bring them to the notice of the council and of Government and insist upon greater facilities for education being given to them.

6773. ...By removal of social restrictions he meant the removal of such restrictions as the depressed classes not being allowed to use the public roads or the public wells. The Legislative Council, by an enactment, could and should remove such social disabilities. The Government and the legislature were concerned with the legal aspect of the case and not with the religious or social aspects; and the Government could allow the depressed classes to avail themselves of these rights without interfering with any religious or social observances.

6774. ...The distinction between the depressed classes and the backward classes was that the depressed classes were untouchable, and the backward classes were not. He wanted special electorates for the untouchables, i.e. persons who were untouchable in the eyes of an orthodox Hindu. As far as the Bombay Presidency was concerned he thought there was a practical uniformity of opinion among the orthodox Hindus on the subject. If special electorates were not given, he would most reluctantly accept nomination.

6775. ...At present the depressed classes had no representative in the Legislative Council, and they had very few elected representatives in local bodies.

(Mr. Hailey) The depressed classes had associations of their own but they were mostly not political bodies, though political associations were, however, springing up; if separate electorates were not granted, their existing associations might be treated as electorates.

6776. ...(Mr. Crump) The different castes among the depressed classes in Bombay were the Mahars, Chamars, Bhangis, Bearers, Dhors, Khalpas, Sind Shindwas, Turis and Kolghas. The Ramosees were not untouchable, as far as he knew.

6777. ...(Mr. Natarajan) The Depressed Classes Mission, of which he was the Secretary, was started on 18th October 1896. At present it had about 75 members. They had branches all over the country. Many Brahmans worked among the depressed classes and some were superintendents of branches.

6778. ...There was no chance of a member of the depressed classes being elected by a general electorate.

6779. ...If it were impossible to give 9 seats to the depressed classes, he would accept 7.