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Federation Versus Freedom By Dr. B R Ambedkar [ Read Book Online ]



(Kale Memorial Lecture)

Address delivered on 29th January 1939 at the Annual Function

the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics held in the Gokhale Hall,
" The distance you have gone is less important than the direction in which
you are going today."
First Published: 1939 Reprinted from the first edition 



  • I : Introductory
  • II : Birth and growth of Indian federation
  • III : The structure of the federation
  • IV : Powers of the federation
  • V : Character of the federation
  • VI : Benefits of the federal scheme
  • VII : The bane of the federal scheme
  • VIII : The fatality of federation
  • IX : Federation without tie states
  • X : Federation from different points of view
  • XI : Conclusion



A word or two as regards the origin of this tract and the motive which has led me to publish it at this time will, I think, not be out of place. Many in this country must be aware that there exists in Poona an institution which is called the GOKHALE INSTITUTE OF POLITICS AND ECONOMICS, WORKING under the direction of Dr. D. R. GADGIL.

The Institute holds a function annually to celebrate what is called the Founder's Day and invites some one to deliver an address on some subject connected with politics or economics. This year, I was asked by Dr. Gadgil to deliver an address. I accepted the invitation and chose the Federal Scheme as the subject of my address. The address covered both 1) the structure of the Federation and (2) a critique of that structure. The address was delivered on 29th January 1939 at the Gokhale Hall in Poona. The address as prepared had become too lengthy for the time allotted to me and although I kept the audience for two hours when usually the time allotted for such address is one hour I had to omit from the address the whole of the part relating to the Federal structure and some portion from the part relating to the criticism of the structure. This tract, however, contains the whole of the original address prepared by me for the occasion.

So much for the origin of this tract. Now as to the reasons for publishing it. All addresses delivered at the Gokhale Institute are published. It is in the course of things that this also should be published. But there are other reasons besides this, which have prevailed with me to publish it. So far as the Federation is concerned, the generality of the Indian public seems to be living in a fog. Beyond the fact that there is to be a Federation and that the Federation is a bad thing the general public has no clear conception of what is the nature of this Federation and is, therefore, unable to form an intelligent opinion about it. It is necessary that the general public should have in its hand a leaflet containing an outline of the Federal structure and a criticism of that structure in small compass sufficient to convey a workable understanding of the Scheme. I feel this Tract will supply this need.

I also think that the publication of this tract will be regarded as timely. Federation is a very live issue and it is also a very urgent one. Soon the people of British India will be called upon to decide whether they should accept the Federal Scheme or they should not. The premier political organization in this Country, namely, the Congress seems to be willing to accept this Federation as it has accepted Provincial Autonomy. The negotiations that are going on with the Muslim League and the manoeuvres that are being carried on with the Indian States give me at any rate the impression that the Congress is prepared to accept the Federation and that these negotiations and manoeuvres are designed to bring about a working arrangement with other parties so that with their  help the Congress may be in the saddle at the Centre as it has been in the Provinces. Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose has even gone to the length of suggesting that the right wing of the Congress has committed itself to this Federation so far that it has already selected its cabinet. It matters not whether all this is true or not. I hope all this is untrue. Be that as it may, the matter is both grave and urgent, and I think all those who have anything to say on the subject should speak it out. Indeed I feel that silence at such a time will be criminal. That is why I have hastened to publish my address. I believe that I have views on the subset of Federation which even if they do not convince others will at least provoke them to think.

Rajgraha Dadar, Bombay 14

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Federation Versus Freedom By Dr. B R Ambedkar                  

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