Harijan Sevak Sangh, Delhi

Connection with Gandhiji 
Harijan Sevak Sangh was formed in 1932 following Gandhiji’s fast unto death, opposing the Communal Award announced by the British Government and his call for the eradication of untouchability from Hindu society. Gandhiji stayed at Harijan Colony, Kingsway Camp many times during their visits to Delhi.

Background
Gandhiji commenced fast unto death against separate electorates for Depressed Classes announced by the British Government on September 20, 1932. After Hindu leaders and suppressed class leaders signed the Agreement (Poona Pact) in the presence of Gandhiji on September 24, Gandhiji broke fast on September 26 in the presence of Rabindranath Tagore.

The Beginning and change in name 
• Harijan Sevak Sangh (Servants of Untouchables Society), originally called the All-India Anti-Untouchability League, was founded on September 30 in pursuance of the resolutions of an all-India conference of the caste Hindus and a public meeting convened by them in Bombay under the chairmanship of Madan Mohan Malaviya. G.D. Birla became the president and A.V. Thakkar ‘Thakkar Bapa’ became the secretary of the League. Gandhiji was in Yeravada Jail at that time.
• In a letter to G.D. Birla, the president of the League, Gandhiji wrote, ‘We must take up simultaneously both propaganda and constructive work. The League cannot leave out propaganda simply because I am doing it…This too we shall discuss when we meet.’
• Gandhiji suggested that ‘the League should bring out a bulletin or journal or newspaper every fortnight or every week and make all these horrible things public.’
• Within few weeks of the formation of the League, Gandhiji received a complaint from V.R. Shinde who was already the president of the association ‘All-India Untouchability League’. Responding to the complaint, Gandhiji wrote to G.D. Birla, ‘Shindeji has a serious complaint against us, that of appropriating the name of his association. The complaint seems to be justified. We are concerned only with work, not with the name. Therefore my suggestion is to name our association ‘Akhil Bharat Harijan Seva Sangh’ and to use the same in English and vernacular too.’
• In a statement on untouchability dated December 9, 1932, Gandhiji wrote, ‘…Anti-Untouchability League, which because of the prior body founded by Mr. V.R. Shinde bearing practically the same name will henceforth be called, and in my opinion more appropriately, the Servants of Untouchables Society…’
• The publication of ‘Harijan’ in English started in February 1933 under the auspices of The Servants of the Untouchables Society. In the first issue of ‘Harijan’, Gandhiji wrote ‘The English edition of Harijan is being published by and for the Servants of Untouchables Society at my request and, therefore, in accordance with the views I have long held regarding reform journals.’ (‘To the Reader’, February 11, 1933)
• Subsequently, the publication of Gujarati ‘Harijanbandhu’ and ‘Harijansevak’ started. While ‘Harijan’ (English) and ‘Harijanbandhu’ (Gujarati) were printed and published from Poona, the functioning of ‘Harijansevak’ was conducted from Delhi.
• Harijan Sevak Sangh’s main office was at Delhi in a Birla mill. It was shifted to Harijan Colony at Kingsway Camp in 1935.


Details of Gandhiji’s stay
• Gandhiji stayed at Harijan Colony for the first time from March 8 to 27, 1936. During this period, he began the practice of observing silence between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. from March 9 to March 16. Gandhiji met Jawaharlal Nehru, M.C. Raja, attended Congress Working Committee meeting, attended Harijan Sevak Sangh meeting, and had discussions with Harijan workers.
• Gandhiji’s next visit was during March 15-22, 1937. He attended the All India Congress Committee meeting which passed the resolution on acceptance of offices. He also met the leaders of Jamiat-Ul-Ulema-I-Hind.
• He came to Delhi for one day on special invitation by the Viceroy, on August 4, 1938. He chose to stay at Harijan Colony during this short visit.
• During his long stay from September 20 to October 6, Gandhiji was at the Harijan colony. He attended meetings of the Congress Working Committee, All India Congress Committee, gave speeches, and drafted resolutions. He also laid a foundation stone of the temple in Harijan Colony in the memory of his associate Brijkrishna Chandiwala’s mother. During his one-day visit in the same year on November 10, he stayed at Harijan Colony.
• During his next Delhi visit, Gandhiji stayed at Birla House but visited Harijan Colony on March 27, 1939, to inaugurate Udyog Mandir. He stayed at Harijan Colony for a day on July 7 and returned to Harijan Colony on July 27 to attend the convocation of Udyog Mandir and to visit the temple's built-in memory of Brijkrishna Chandiwala’s mother. In his November 1939 visit, Gandhiji stayed at Birla House but visited Harijan Colony on November 2 to inaugurate Prarthana Mandir.
• Gandhiji visited Harijan Colony for Khadi and Spinning exhibition on October 1, 1940.
• Gandhiji paid a brief visit to Harijan Colony on July 17, 1945.


Digital Experience
Virtual Tour | Architectural Documents

Site Address/Contact Details
Harijan Sevak Sangh
Gandhi Ashram,
Near Dhaka Chowk,Opp Maharishi Valmiki Hospital,
New Delhi,
Delhi - 110 009
India
Phone: 011 2765 2113, +91 99686 67071, +91 99682 79250 | Email: harijan.sangh@rediffmail.com
Website: http://www.gandhicreationhss.org

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