Poona Sarvajanik Sabha
The Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, founded on April 2nd, 1870, is a worthy predecessor of the Indian National Congress. The Sabha drew its members from the aristocratic and professional classes. It had a representative character as its members were required to possess the power of attorney of fifty adult men from in and around Poona. Initially, the Sabha’s objective was to work for reforms in the management of the Parvati Temple, but it also acted as a mediator between the government and the governed. Though the Sabha took an interest in a number of issues, it was the Sabha’s intervention in agricultural issues that stood out. This could be attributed to the fact that most of its members held land properties in the Deccan countryside. The Sabha conducted fact-finding studies on the agricultural situation in India, especially in the Deccan region. In 1872, a twelve-member sub-committee of the Sabha conducted such a study and submitted its findings to the East India Finance Committee, appointed by the British government. Similarly, when famine struck Western and Southern India in 1876–77, the Sabha was not only active in the relief work but also conducted a study on the after-effects of the famine. The Sabha was of the opinion that an enduring solution to the agrarian problems lies in the permanent settlement of land revenue. It also suggested supplementary measures like legal reforms to prevent extortion by money lenders and state guarantees to capitalists engaged in loan business to address the paucity of capital. A mention should be made here about M.G. Ranade. Mr. Ranade acted as a friend, philosopher, and guide to the Sabha. The Sabha became a formidable organisation in western India. The prestige of the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha can be gauged from the fact that it played a major role in making arrangements for the first session of the Indian National Congress.
Visakh S M, Kerala


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Vol 55, No. 31, Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2023