Karnataka PSC » Karnataka PSC study materials » Polity » Communal Award: Provisions & Objectives

Communal Award: Provisions & Objectives

The study material notes on the communal award will help you understand the topic better. Learn about the communal award, defects of the communal award, and other related topics in detail.


British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald initially coined the communal award on August 16, 1932. Born as the result of the 2nd round-table conference, the other name of the communal award is the MacDonald Award. In simple terms, the communal award is a set of elections awarded to the less privileged or the oppressed classes. A separate electorate was accepted by the Indian Councils Act 1909 for Muslims, followed by Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, and Europeans as per the Government of India Act 1919. 

Historical background of the communal award

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the awareness among the oppressed sections of society increased. They began to raise their voices against the violation of rights and social equality in the country. The British government initiated the constitutional reforms under pressure from the Indian national movement to accommodate Indians in multiple representative bodies. When the separate electorate was formed for Muslims under the Morley – Minto Reforms Act of 1909, leaders of the less privileged sections decided to raise their voices and demand seat reservations. 

After many revolts, the depressed class forced the British government to get an invitation for their representative to the round table conference in London. However, the Congress party and Gandhi both were not on the same page as they were not satisfied with the idea of demanding a separate electorate. During this time, BR Ambedkar evolved as a strong supporter for the rights of the deprived sections and attacked Congress for not addressing their issues. 

Key provisions of the communal award

Here are the key provisions of the communal award: 

  • Doubling the seats in the provincial legislatures. 
  • Keeping the separate electorate system, especially for minorities. 
  • Providing considerable weightage to the Muslims. 
  • Reserving 3% of the total seats for women. 
  • Recognising the less privileged classes and entitling them to the right of the separate electorate. 
  • Allocating seats to landlords, labourers, industrialists, and traders. 

Objectives of the communal award

For more than twenty years, the communal award allowed the oppressed sections of the society to grant votes alongside the Hindus in the general constituencies. When the communal award was introduced, it was a clear sign of boarding the distance between the Hindu caste and depressed class.

Facts about freedom struggle in India 

Here are some facts about the freedom struggle in India: 

  • When Gandhi heard of the communal award, which provided a separate electorate for the downtrodden sections, he reacted strongly against it. He believed that the oppressed section was a vital part of the Hindu community. 
  • He believed that the Hindus favoured the deprived class and would do complete justice with those they had exploited for years. 
  • BR Ambedkar took a strong stand favouring the communal award and attacked Congress for not addressing their issues. 
  • Gandhi then decided to fast at the Yerwada Jail.
  • To save the life of Gandhi, Poona Pact started on September 24, 1932.
  • Once the pact was signed, Gandhi ended his fast. 

Explain the Poona Pact 

It was an act between Hindu leaders to secure the interest of the Dalits. A large group of Hindus raised their voice to secure their rights. This agreement is also a result of the communal award of August 16, 1932. During the early 20th century, the Indian political system went through turmoil regarding different communal interests. After a series of negotiations and counselling, the British government agreed on a proposal offered by the Hindu leaders. 

In this proposal, the Hindu depressed classes or scheduled caste demanded seats in legislation. Dalit leader Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar supported this proposal. He fought against the inequality posed upon the Dalits community. However, many national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi proposed a different plan. They proposed to have reserved seats in the central and provincial assembly for the oppressed classes.

By 1930, Ambedkar had emerged as a leader of national stature for the welfare of the downtrodden sections of the society and represented them in the first round table session. Consequently, the proposal was finally reached as a vital factor in the Indian political map. Gandhi and Ambedkar finalised the Poona Pact. It reserved 71 seats in the central legislature for the marginalised sections of society and gave away the Communal Award of having separate electorates.


In simple terms, the communal award is a set of elections awarded to the less privileged or the downtrodden sections of society. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the awareness among the depressed section of society started to increase. They raised their voices against the violation of rights and social equality in the country.


Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the Karnataka PSC Examination Preparation.

When did the communal award come into existence?

Ans: The communal award was initially coined by British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald on August 1...Read full

When was the Poona Pact signed? Who was present at the conference?

Ans: The agreement was signed on September 24, 1932, by 23 delegates. Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned...Read full

Who were the most prominent Indian leaders associated with the agreement?

Ans: The most dignified congress leaders, BR Ambedkar, Raja Sekhar Vundru, Gandhiji, Madan Mohan Ma...Read full

Were there any key provisions of the communal award? If yes, what were they?

Ans: The two Key provisions of the communal award were  ...Read full