India from 1915-1935

Section W: India from 1915-1935

Annie Besant

  • In June 1914, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was released from Mandalay. In the beginning he supported the British endeavors in the war.
  • All the moderates and extremists alike were on a mistaken belief that a grateful Britain would repay India by making political concessions towards self-government, once the war is over. The congress was rendered politically inactive practically, after 1910.
  • During the initial period of the World War-I, the new element of reunification of the congress started with the rise of Annie Besant, a theosophical leader. This 66 years lady (in 1914) had begun her career in England as a proponent of free thought, radicalism, Fabianism (socialism), and theosophy and was an ardent supporter of Irish and Indian self rule. She was born in 1847 into a family of Irish origin. The conditions prevalent at home taught her fighting for freedom of thought, secularism, women’s rights etc. She started keeping in touch with the Irish home rulers and gave them support, while writing in the newspaper items. She had a close relationship with George Bernard Shaw, an Irish struggler living in London, who later cofounded London School of Economics.
  • George Bernard Shaw is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion.
  • George sponsored Annie to join the Fabian Society. In 1875, Theosophical Society was established in New York as an organization to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. Its prominent founding fathers were Helena Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge
  • In 1891, Helena Blavatsky died and soon after William Quan Judge was accused of forgery by Annie Besant and Henry Steel Olcott. Both Henry Steel Olcott and Annie Besant took most of the American society with themselves and this society which exists today in India is called the Theosophical Society – Adyar, when the organization’s headquarters moved to Adyar, an area of Chennai in 1883. Prior to Annie Besant the leader was Charles Webster Leadbeater who got in some controversy over a sexual insinuation of the spirituality with the boys of the society.
  • In 1898, she was instrumental in setting up of Central Hindu College, which in 1911 culminated as Banaras Hindu University with her joint efforts with Madan Mohan Malviya.
  • In 1908, Annie Besant became President of Theosophical Society. By 1914, she had been associated with the Indian National Congress. When the war broke out and England declared a war against Germany, she famously said: ” England’s need is India’s Opportunity”.


All India Home Rule League 1915-1920

  • After returning from Mandalay, Tilak proposed that the congress should small and cohesive working committee to carry out its daily functions, so that the Congress is transformed to a real political party. But the good idea was not accepted.
  • The meaning of war for a common man was increased dacoity on his pocket by the government so; the common man was ready to join any movement or protest against the Government. But India lacked a solid political front and congress was just a deliberate functionary; not in a position of organizing mass protests.
  • In September 1915, Annie launched the Home Rule League, modeling demands for India on Irish models. She clearly gave a signal of fighting for a change. For the first time, India saw a political party that was to work all year round, unlike the Congress which croaked once a year. The result was that she was able to mobilize the demonstrations and organize demonstrations, public meetings and agitations.
  • In the next year 1916, Tilak also reorganized his supporters. When the war was near closing, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Annie Besant, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Joseph Baptista, G. S. Khaparde, Sir S. Subramania Iyer, all came together under the umbrella of the All India Home Rule League. The demand was self-government within the British Empire for all of India.
  • Objectives of the Home Rule League movement
    • To establish self- government
    • To build up an agitation for home rule by promoting political education and discussion.
    • To build the confidence of the Indians against the suppression of the British government and to create an alternative movement to break the existing state of stagnation and the inertia.
    • To revive the political activity on their own while maintaining the principles of congress.
    • To demand for greater political representation from the British government.
  • Indian Home Rule League & Home Rule League
    • Please note that Indian Home Rule League and Home Rule League were not simultaneously launched by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant.
    • Indian Home Rule League of Tilak was launched in April 1916, while the Home Rule League of Annie Besant came into existence in September that year.
    • As per a common informal understanding between the two leaders, the Indian Home Rule league had to work in Maharastra and Central Provinces, while Home Rule League had to work in all India except Maharastra and Central Provinces.
    • Commonweal and New India were the papers of Home Rule League, while those of the Indian Home Rule league were Kesari and Mahratta.
    • Please note that after Montague declaration in 1917, Besant had dropped her league but NOT Tilak.
  • Was Home Rule League a light in the dark tunnel? We see that the period between 1909 to 1915 was the lowest ebb in the national movement, when the British suppression led to a vacuum of ideology and leadership. The Congress became directionless and mass movement lost the direction. Under these circumstances, it was the HRL which not only showed positive attitude towards masses but also prevented them from being alienated from the mainstream. HRL was able to combine and balance all the three trends viz. moderates, extremists, and revolutionary terrorists.
  • The two things must be noted here: HRL dropped ides of extremist’s mass movement but continued their idea of passive resistance HRL dropped the idea of mendicancy of the moderates but continued their concept of patriotism.
  • It’s worth note that both HRL and IHRL , at that time had emphasized more on awareness through journals like commonweal, India , Mahratta etc. They tried to restore the confidence of the Indians against British suppression, demanded greater political representation and self government and maintained the principles of congress. Therefore, HRL helped to restore the movement which was derailed movement.
  • Tilak founded the first League in Poona. Mohammad Ali Jinnah headed up the League’s Bombay Branch. With its national headquarters in Delhi, the main cities of activity were Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.
  • In June 1917, Annie was arrested under the Defense of India Act. To show her defiance, she flew a red and green flag in the garden. Mass protests began and American President Wilson intervened for her release.
  • Despite the banner of All India Home Rule League, there were two leagues one by Tilak that worked in Bombay Presidency, Carnatic, Central provinces and Berar. The Annie Besant’s league worked for rest of India.
  • At the climax of its activities in 1917, the combined membership of both the leagues was around 40,000.
  • The All India Home league ended in 1920, when it elected Mahatma Gandhi as its President, when within a year it merged into the Indian National Congress.
  • Contribution of HRL
    • It organized congress party when it was decaying.
    • It popularized concept of home rule.
    • It created organizational links between town and country.
    • It revived the old lost confidence of the Indians and created a generation of ardent nationalists.
    • Declaration of Montagu and the Montford Reforms were influenced by the Home Rule League agitation.
    • For the first time, widely disseminated the idea of Swaraj via the journals, something which was followed even by Gandhi.


Arrival of Lord Chelmsford 1916

On April 4, 1916, Lord Chelmsford took over as next Viceroy of India. This was the time for constant development in the national politics in India.
Lucknow Pact of 1916

  • Initially, the policy of the Muslim League was to preserve Muslims interests in India and to support the British Raj.
  • Before and after the cancellation of partition of Bengal, the aims and objectives of Muslim league were confusing. At the close of the war, Lord Chelmsford had invited suggestions from the Indians for post World War I reforms further helped in the development of the situation. So, naturally the Muslim league which was on the sidelines of the country politics by that time would like to come ahead to get a better share in the expected giveaways of reforms. So, it was the brain of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, that an objective aim of the Muslim league emerged and they sought for a sort of joint platform with the moderates and extremists to put a constitutional pressure on the British Government to do some favors in return for the support in the First World War.
  • In December 1915, the extremists under Tilak and moderates under Gokhle met at Bombay where Muslim league joined them to draft a set of minimum constitutional demands through mutual consultations, thus giving an idea of illusionary Hindu Muslim Unity.
  • Congress met once again at Lucknow on December 29 and December 31, 1916.
  • Here Congress and Muslim league negotiated and reached an agreement to pressure the British government to adopt a more liberal approach to India and give Indians more authority in respect with the self government. This was for the first time that Muslim League and Congress met at a common platform for the first time since their birth. The soul of this pact is written here.
  • The Highlighted clauses seem to be the main blunders of our congress leaders.
    • There shall be self-government in India.
    • Muslims should be given one-third representation in the central government.
    • There should be separate electorates for all the communities until a community demanded joint electorates.
    • A system of weightage to minority political representation (giving minorities more representation in the government then is proportional to their share of the population) should be adopted.
    • The number of the members of Central Legislative Council should be increased to 150.
    • At the provincial level, four-fifth of the members of the Legislative Councils should be elected and one-fifth should be nominated.
    • The size of provincial legislatures should not be less than 125 in the major provinces and from 50 to 75 in the minor provinces.
    • All members, except those nominated, should be elected directly on the basis of adult franchise.
    • No bill concerning a community should be passed if the bill is opposed by three-fourth of the members of that community in the Legislative Council.
    • The term of the Legislative Council should be five years.
    • Members of Legislative Council should themselves elect their president.
    • Half of the members of Imperial Legislative Council should be Indians.
    • The salaries of the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs should be paid by the British government and not from Indian funds.
    • Of the two Under Secretaries, one should be Indian.
    • The Executive should be separated from the Judiciary.
  • This pact which approved one-third representation of the Muslims in the central government was probably an oncogene that finally resulted in a Cancer in India and was cured only when India was cut in two pieces.
  • Lucknow Pact– Was it signed without a thought for its consequences?
    • We see that the Lucknow Pact of 1916 was signed without regard for its consequences. Muslim League and Congress agreed to separate electorate which means congress formally reorganized communal political and tacitly gave recognition that India consisted of different communities with separate interest of their own.
    • Then secondly, the weightage to Muslim minority was recognized, the result was that this left the way open to the future resurgence of communalism in Indian politics.
    • Thirdly, the Muslim member’s strength in legislature was laid down province by province, thus one of the most dangerous pacifist policies of congress not only recognized communal representation but also recognized communal privileges.
    • Fourthly, in the imperial legislative council, Muslim representation was slated to be 1/3rd, although their population was not 1/3rd.
    • And lastly, any legislature could not work if on any more 3/4th member of any religion opposed it, its consequence was introduction of communal veto in
    • We see that INC leaders though they are sacrificing their seat in the legislature yet, they failed to understand its logical implications and partition in the offing.
  • But at that time it was called a symbol of Hindu Muslim unity and Sarojini Nayudu hailed Jinnah as an “Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity”. The unity last a few years.
  • Till Lucknow pact, Muslim League was nowhere in the national politics. By making this pact, the Congress “recognized” that it is a political party that represents the Muslims of India. This was a mistake, this was a wrong belief that showed its results very soon.


Champaran Satyagraha 1917

  • Gandhiji dangled between India and South Africa for many times till January 1915, when he arrived in India and remained here till his death. The date of his arrival is celebrated today as Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas.
  • His first major public appearance in India was at the opening ceremony of the Banaras Hindu University in February 1916. In the next two years he involved in some significant struggles that made him the undisputed leader of India’s masses.
  • The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 was Mahatma Gandhi’s first Satyagraha.
  • Champaran and Kheda Satyagraha were the events which later put Gandhi on the front seat of Indian National Revolution and made Satyagraha a powerful tool.
  • The peasants (bhumihars) of the Champaran and other areas of North Bihar were growing the Indigo under the tinakathia system.
  • Under the tinakathia system the peasants were bound to plant 3 out of 20 parts of his land with indigo for his landlord. This means that out of 20 khatas which make an acre, they had to dedicate 3 khatas for indigo plantation. This was the root cause of the trouble. They had to lease this part in return to the advance at the beginning of each cultivation season. The price was too less and was fixed on the area cultivated rather than the crop produced. They were actually being cheated by the English planters. The planters had agreed to the peasants to relive them from the lease contracts but demanded heavy compensations which they were not able to pay.
  • One local peasant leader Rajkumar Shukla had invited Mahatma Gandhi to visit Champaran. Gandhi ji arrived in Champaran but was later ordered by the District magistrate of Champaran W B Heycock to leave the district.
  • Gandhi ji refused and persisted. He decided to commit Satyagraha. He proceeded towards the Champaran. The commissioner of tirhut division ordered Gandhi’s arrest but Government of India cancelled the arrest because it did want to make him a hero. He was left at liberty to pursue his investigations into the peasant’s grievances.
  • Later the Champaran Agragarian committee was constituted and Gandhi was offered a seat in it.
  • The psychological impact of this Satyagraha was outstanding. Gandhi became Lord Rama of the peasants who demolished the demons (planters)
  • People got a holy man” Gandhi Baba” in Gandhi who could cure all their problems. 


Kheda Satyagraha 1918

  • In Kheda, Gujarat, the peasants were frequently plagued by poverty, famines, scant resource, untouchability, alcoholism and British discrimination. The famine of Chhappania Akal and some subsequent famines had destroyed the agrarian economy of the region and the peasants were still dying out of starvation.
  • The Bombay Presidency increased the taxes in 1917-18 by 23%. In 1918, Gujarat as a whole suffered a severe epidemic of Plague and in Kheda alone around 17000 people lost their lives. Further, cholera also broke out locally. This was the immediate reason of the revolt. The revolt was against the taxes.
  • The government said that if the taxes are not paid, the property would be seized. This revolt gave India a robust leader in Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and his colleagues such as Narhari Parikh, Mohanlal Pandya and Ravi Shankar Vyas organized this major tax revolt, which was able to mobilize all the castes and creeds of the region. The peasants of Kheda signed a petition in leadership of Sardar Patel and called for tax to be scrapped.
  • The revolt was organized by Gujarat Sabha and Gandhi was its spiritual leader.
  • The Kheda peasants were joined by Ahmadabad and Vadodara Gujaratis, but it was kept a pure Gujarati struggle. When the tax was not paid, the government sent agents to seize the property. The farmers did not resist but they simply donated their cash and invaluable to the Gujarat Sabha. It was a united protest, outstandingly disciplined.
  • The result was that the Government reached an agreement for both the parties. Tax for the current year and next year was suspended and all confiscated property was returned. 


Ahmadabad Mill Strike 1918

  • The Satyagraha was not confined to Kheda
  • In Ahmadabad also, Gandhi ji organized a pure internal campaign, which received less publicity. Ahmadabad was the second largest city of Bombay Presidency. It was a long established commercial centre. Under the British, the cotton industry grew in the city and Ahmadabad became a modern Industrial town of the 20th century.
  • In February March 1918, there was a situation of conflict between the Gujarat Mill owners and workers on the question of Plague Bonus of 1917.
  • The Mill Owners wanted to withdraw the bonus whole the workers demanded a 50% wage hike. The Mill Owners were willing to give only 20% wage hike. In March 1918, under the leadership of Gandhi, there was a strike in the cotton mills.
  • In this strike Gandhi used the weapon of Hunger strike (First time).
  • If Gandhi were not there as a leader of this revolt, may be the shops were picketed, but it was carried out in pure non-violent disciplined way.
  • The result was that the strike was successful and the workers got a 35% wage increase.
  • One more leader of this strike was Anusuya Ben Sarabai, a sister of a rich mill-owner of Ahmadabad, had just returned from a tour of England.


Montagu Declaration 1917

  • Edwin Samuel Montagu served as Secretary of State for India between 1917 and 1922.
  • On 20 August 1917, he made a historic declaration in the House of Commons defining the goal of British policies in India. In the previous month, he had made a scathing attack on the whole system by which India was being administered in a debate in British House of Commons. It is also known as August Declaration of 1917
  • The Montague declaration is titled: “Increasing association of Indians in every branch of administration, and the Gradual development of self governing Institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible governments in India as an Integral part of the British Empire”.
  • The Keyword was Responsible Government; the rulers must be answerable to the elected representatives.
  • In November 1917, Montagu visited India to ascertain the views from all sections of political opinion from India. He discussed with Gandhi, with Jinnah and others. On the basis of the above discussions, a detailed report on Indian Constitutional Reforms was prepared. This report was published in July 1918.
  • The Duke Memorandum
    • Duke Memorandum is associated with Sir William Duke, a member of the English Round Table Group and he had formulated a scheme which eventually became the basis of Joint Report of Montague and Chelmsford.
    • “The Duke Memorandum” became the basis of Mont-Ford Reforms. This report became the basis of Government of India Act 1919.
  • Montague declaration, again after a gap of more than half a century of Queen Victoria’s proclamation 1858, was called the “Magna Carta of India”. The nationalists criticized it, as it lacked the legitimate expectations of theirs.
  • The declaration was criticized in the December 1917 Calcutta session, in which Annie Besant as president pleaded for establishment of Self Government in India.
  • Tilak characterized the Montague reforms as “unworthy and disappointing- a sunless dawn”.
  • Besant said that it was something “unworthy of England to offer and India to accept”.
  • But the moderates led by Surendranath Banerjee supported the Montague declaration in November 1918 in a separate conference.
  • Thus Congress again got split. The extremist remnants crated another front All India Liberal Federation, which soon disappeared from the scene.
  • Committee under Montague Chelmsford
    • Three committees were appointed to give the Montague Chelmsford report a Constitutional form viz. Franchise Committee, Functions Committee and Committee on Home Administration.


Government of India Act 1919

  • Government of India Act 1919 is known as a consequence of Montague Chelmsford Reforms.
  • The Government of India act 1919 was passed on the basis of recommendations of Lord Chelmsford and Samuel Montagu to introduce self-governing institutions gradually to India. This act covered 10 years from 1919 to 1929.

Salient Features:

  • The Government of India act 1919 had a separate Preamble. This Preamble declared that Objective of the British Government is the gradual introduction of responsible government in India. Thus we see that the beginning was made.
  • The beginning was introduction of Diarchy.
  • Preamble suggested for a decentralized unitary form of government. Diarchy means a dual set of governments one is accountable another is not accountable.
  • The Government of India Act of 1919, made a provision for classification of the central and provincial subjects.
  • The provincial subjects were divided into two groups: One was reserved and another was transferred.
  • The reserved subjects were kept with the Governor and transferred subjects were kept with the Indian Ministers. This division of subjects was basically what they meant by introducing the Diarchy. The reserved subjects were the essential areas of law enforcement such as justice, police, revenue. The transferred subjects were such as public health, public works, education etc.
  • Please note that Government of India Act 1919, kept the Income Tax as source of revenue to the Central Government.
  • However, there were two Provinces, for which, to meet their objections, a provision to assign them 25% of the Income tax was made. These Provinces were Bengal & Bombay.
  • Also, Foreign Relations and relations with Native states were NOT kept in Central Subjects in Government of India Act 1919
  • The Indian executive comprised of the Governor General and his council.
  • No bill of the legislature could be deemed to have been passed unless assented to by the governor general. The later could however enact a Bill without the assent of the legislature.
  • This act made the central legislature bicameral. The first house which was central legislature, with 145 members (out of which 104 elected and 41 nominated) was called central Legislative Assembly and second called with 60 members (out of which 33 elected and 27 nominated) was called Council of States.
  • The term of the assembly was fixed 3 years and council 5 years.
  • The central legislature can be called a primitive model of today’s Lok Sabha & council of states can be called a primitive model of Today’s Rajya Sabha.
  • The act provided for the establishment of a Public Service Commission in India for the first time.
  • This act also made a provision in its part V, that a statutory commission would be set up at the end of 10 years after the act was passed which shall inquire into the working into the system of the government. The Simon commission of 1927 was an outcome of this provision.
  • The communal representation was extended and Sikhs, Europeans and Anglo Indians were included.
  • The Franchise (Right of voting) was granted to the limited number of only those who paid certain minimum “Tax” to the government.
  • The tenure of the central legislature was 3 years
  • The seats were distributed among the provinces not upon the basis of the population but upon the basis of their importance in the eyes of the government, on the basis of communities, and property was one of the main basis to determine a franchisee.
  • Those people who had a property, taxable income & paid land revenue of Rs. 3000 were entitled to vote.
  • The central legislature was empowered to consider, pass or reject legislation on any of the subjects enumerated in the Central list.
  • But, the Governor-General had the last word on any Bill passed by the Legislature.
    • He possessed the power to prevent the consideration of a Bill or any of its part, on the plea that it was injurious to the peace and tranquility of the country.
    • He could disallow a question in the legislature.
    • He had the power to withhold his assent to any Bill passed by the legislature without which it could not become an Act.
    • He also had the power to disallow an adjournment motion or debate on any matter.
    • He could enact a law, which he considered essential for the safety and tranquility of the empire even if the legislature had refused to pass it.
  • The financial powers of the central legislature were also very much limited. The budget was to be divided into two categories, votable and non-votable. The votable items covered only one third of the total expenditure.
  • Even in this sphere the Governor-General was empowered to restore any grant refused or reduced by the legislature, if in his opinion the demand was essential for the discharge of his responsibilities.
  • Thus the Government of India Act provided for partial transfer of Power to the electorate through the system of diarchy. It also prepared the ground for the Indian Federalism, as it identified the provinces as units of fiscal and general administration. But the growing nationalism was not satisfied.



Merits (despite limitations) of GOI Act 1919

  • The GOI act 1919 marked the end of the policy of benevolent despotism, and thus began the genesis of the responsible government in India.
  • It was for the first time, that elections to the legislatures were known to the people and this created political consciousness among the masses.
  • However, those people who had a property, taxable income & paid land revenue of Rs. 3000 were entitled to vote.
  • The number of the Indian in the was raised to 3 in the Governor General in Council of 8.
  • These Indian members were entrusted to some portfolios such as labor, health and industry.
  • It was the GOI Act 1919, whereby, the Indians came in direct contact with administration for the first time. This was a very useful experience.
  • It was also for the first time that a number of Indian women got the right to franchise for the first time.
  • Now, under the Indian ministers , some of the far reaching measures were taken such as enactment of Madras State Aid to Industries Act, 1923, the Bombay Primary Education act, the Bihar and Orissa village administration Act, the Bombay local boards act, 1923,


Rowlatt Committee 1918

  • In 1918, Lord Chelmsford appointed a sedition committee with Justice Rowlatt, an English judge, as its president.
  • The idea was to evaluate the political “terrorism” in India, especially in Punjab and Bengal.
  • The committee was also identifying its links with the German government and the Bolsheviks of Russia. The Government was aware that the Indian revolutionaries are getting massive support and resources from the Germans. This committee submitted its report in April 1918 and tried to make a comprehensive review of the militant nationalists. The committee could not establish the Bolsheviks, but substantiated the links with the Germans.


Rowlatt Act & Satyagraha 1919

  • On the basis of the finding of the Rowlatt Committee two bills were introduced in the Imperial Legislative Council.
  • Out of them one was dropped and another which was an extension to the Defense of India Regulations Act 1915 was passed as “Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919, in March of that year.
  • This act authorized the government to imprison for a maximum period of two years, without trial, any person suspected of terrorism.
  • The act provided speedy trial of the offenses by a special cell that consisted of 3 High Court Judges.
  • There was no court of appeal above that panel. This panel could also accept the evidences which were not even acceptable in the Indian Evidences Act.
  • Thus in succession, the Government passed Montagu Chelmsford Reforms and Rowlatt Act that were part of the Carrot and Stick policy of the British. This act gave a new direction to the movement.
  • Gandhi organized a mass protest at all India level. By March 23, 1919, the volunteers started courting arrests.
  • The three organizations viz, the Home Rule league, Muslim league and the Satyagraha Sabha along with some other small organizations coordinated and organized the biggest Satyagraha ever.
  • On April 6, 1919, an all India strike was organized. There was mob violence in Bombay, Ahmadabad and all other major towns. The Satyagraha lost momentum with the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy on April 13, 1919.


Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy

  • Punjab was facing from the severe war time depression as the sipahis were returning from Central Asia and Mesopotamia. Then the Ghadar party made Punjab a cradle of revolutionary movements. The situation in Amritsar and Lahore was worse and army was called there. The Amritsar was handed to Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer.
  • On April 13, 1919 in Amritsar, more than 5,000 people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh. The foolish General believed that these Indians are conspiring for a coordinated revolt in the next hot months when the British troops will be withdrawn from the plains and would be deployed in the hills. So, such a conspiracy must not be accepted. It was a Baisakhi day and the people were peaceful, unarmed, most of the crowd was villagers and were not aware that the sarkar has banned the meetings. The luckless mob was fired from all sides by the troops of General Dyer and massacred more than 400 people at the place. This stunned the entire country.


Impact of Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy

  • Punjab was placed under martial law.
  • On April 18, 1919, Gandhi withdrew the movement and called it a “Himalayan blunder”.
  • On May 30, 1919 Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood.
  • Gandhi returned the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold medal given to him for his work during Boer war.
  • A parallel nonofficial enquiry committee was set up by the congress and Government also set up a committee of enquiry with 4 British and 3 Indian members. The Indemnity act was also passed. Dyer was removed from the job and sent to London, but he was never charged of any offence.
  • The massacre was worth calling genocide and it stunned the entire country.
  • Dyer was removed from the job and sent to London, but he was never charged of any offence.
  • Crawling Order Brigadier General Reginald Dyer could not see any difference between the peaceful meeting of the Jallianwala Bagh and the Warfield of France. After placing Punjab in Martial law and imposing curfew, he placed one more foolish and humiliating order. In the turmoil one Miss Marcella Sherwood was assaulted and the General passed an order that those who are passing through the street where she was living would have crawl, laying flat on their bellies. Gandhi declared that the British have lost the moral right to rule this country.


Hunter Committee Report

  • The Jallianwala Bagh massacre was followed by establishment of a non-official enquiry committee was Congress. The British Government did not initiate such inquiry till Congress had set up such committee.
  • Later, the Government established a committee headed by I.ord Hunter a Senator of the “College of justice of Scotland”. This committee had 7 members viz. 4 British and 3 Indians.
  • Fact Box: Disorders Inquiry Committee:
    • Members The 7 member Hunter Committee which was set up to investigate the Jallianwala Bagh Tragedy was also known as Disorders Inquiry Committee.
    • The British members were as following: Chairman: Lord William Hunter, ex- Solicitor-General and the Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland WF Rice, Additional Secretary to the Government of India (Home Department) Justice GC Rankin, Judge of the High Court, Calcutta; Major General Sir George Barrow, Commandant of the Peshawar Division, a non-official Englishman
    • The Indian Members were as follows: Sir Chimanlal Setalvad Pandit Jagat Narayan Sardar Sultan Ahmed Khan
  • Before the committee could publish its own report, Congress put forward its own view. This view criticized Dyer’s act as inhuman and also said that there was no justification in the introduction of the martial law in Punjab.
  • But the Hunter Report, as expected saw the things differently. Although it condemned most of the decisions taken by General Dyer, it agreed with imposition of the martial law in Punjab.
  • It also criticized the method of Satyagraha adopted by Gandhi and held Gandhi partially responsible for “deteriorated” law and order situation.
  • The result was the Dyer was sent to England, relived of his command. But rests of the things were the official opinion of the Government.
  • The time was ripe for the Khilafat Grievances as well. The result was the Indian National Congress joined hand with the Khilafat leaders and in the wake of once again shortly revived Hindu Muslim unity, Gandhi put forward the idea of nationwide non-cooperation campaign with the goal of attaining full Swaraj. as it was the only opinion left for the nationalists.


Khilafat Movement 1919-20

  • From 1876 to 1909, Abdul Hamid II was the Ottoman emperor. Being a Caliph, the Ottoman emperor was the supreme religious and political leader of all Sunni Muslims across the world.
  • In the World War I, the Ottoman Empire had sided the Central Powers and the result of this war was the defeat of the Central Powers.
  • As per the Treaty a/Versailles (1919), the territorial boundary of the Ottoman Empire got reduced.
  • Meanwhile, in Turkey, a national movement arose under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was a Pro-western nationalist. He, supported by the western powers, abolished the position of the Caliph. Naturally the Muslims in India became anti British, as the power and influence of their religious leader was ended.
  • In India Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar and his brother Maulana Shaukat Ali along with some other Muslim leaders such as Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari. Raees-ul-Muhajireen Barrister Jan Muhammad Junejo, Hasrat Mohani, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Dr. Hakim Ajmal Khan joined hands a created an All India Khilafat Committee, at Lucknow.
  • It had two main demands, which were never accepted:
    • Caliph Sultan must retain sufficient territories so that he is able to defend the Islamic Faith. The places which are called Jazirat-ul-arab, including the Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Palestine must remain under Muslim suzerainty. October 17, 1919 was observed as Khilafat Day.
    • The Hindus also joined hands with the Muslims and a strike was called for.
    • On November 23 1919, the All India Khilafat Conference was organized at New Delhi and later a Khilafat Manifesto was published which called upon the British to protect the Caliphate.
    • Did Gandhi give a call to Maulana Brothers to launch Khilafat Movement? Please note that Gandhi had not called Maulana Muhammad Ali and Shaukat Ali to launch Khilafat Movement.
    • First the leaders met, and then Published their Khilafat manifesto and after only that there was an unwritten pact between INC and Khilafat Movement to work and cooperate on agitation. Gandhi gave them a call to participate in NCM, because he (Gandhi) thought that it was only remedy for British. The leaders of the Khilafat Movement joined hands with Indian National Congress for the upcoming Non-cooperation Movement. Again March 19 1920 was observed as Khilafat Day and following that there was an all party conference in June 1920 at Allahabad.
  • The agenda of the Non-cooperation Movement was finalized. The agenda was:
    • Boycott of the Titles conferred by the Government Boycott of civil services, army and police and all other Government offices.
    • Non-payment of taxes to the government.
  • The Khilafat movement came and went very quickly. It had lost its relevance when Mustafa Kemal Atatlurk had abolished the Caliphate. The last Caliphate was Abdülmecid II, who was expelled with his family and took asylum in Istanbul (Constantinople), where he spent rest of his life catching butterflies. He died in 1948.
  • Was Khilafat Movement a new chapter in Hindu Muslim Unity or was a closing chapter? The period 1919-22 is understood as the heyday of Hindu-Muslim unity against the colonial rule. This was the period when the leaderships of Congress and the Khilafat movement often overlapped. This was in tune with Gandhi’s idea that British can be fought only with united Hindus and Muslims. Strikes, demonstrations, and Satyagrahas took place around the country, while ‘Hindu-Musalman ki Jai was the famous slogan. But the above was just ephemeral.
  • After 1922 a series of differences between the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation leaderships intersected with growing popular conflict between Hindu and Muslim communities. Some section of Muslims started to see the futility of Swaraj and fresh interest was awakened in the Muslim league which had been stagnant since 1918. The most ardent khilafatists started to believe that there was more to be gained by supporting government in its honest efforts than by adhering to the hitherto non-cooperation . Many Muslim leaders raised fears and doubts about the capacity of India to win freedom through civil disobedience. As a result of this, the old dissensions, based upon complaints like cow-slaughter and music before mosque, were raised up and issues of disagreement such as Suddhi Movement or tabligh and sangathan or tanzim were added. The Hindu Muslim Unity was shattered, giving way to a period of “communalism”.
  • This was the sad demise of the Hindu-Muslim unity as marking a turning point in the freedom struggle. The disintegrated state of affairs then offered an opportunity to the British to re-establish their old relations with the Muslims. They were able to successfully bring the Muslims into their loyalists fold. The so called bond of fraternity turned out to be an ad hoc coalition of interests.
  • India was now on a path to partition. How Government seeded hate? The Government created commissions and commissions on one another with an undeclared motive of creating mutual apprehensions and mistrusts. It was the time when the top leaders including Gandhi were failed to understand the political implications of his extensions of support to the cause of Khilafat. Practically, the leaders of Khilafat needed support of Gandhiji only for a defined particular purpose. Most of the constitutional acts were there to ensure that there was a constant creation of mutual mistrust among the communities. It was made sure that people would understand that the benefit of one caste / community was at the cost of those of others


Non-Cooperation Movement 1920

  • On 1 August 1920, Non-Cooperation Movement was announced formally. This was a bereaved day when early in the morning, the news of death of Bal Gangadhar Tilak arrived. Gandhi and a crowd of around 2 Lakh people paid its respect to this “Maker of Modern India”, The Movement started with strikes and processions all over India.
  • On 4 September 1920, Congress met at Calcutta in a special session. This special session was presided by Lala Lajpat Rai.
  • In this session Gandhi wrongly projected that if the Non-cooperation movement gets successful, Swaraj could be attained in One year. This was something immediately repudiated by CR Das.
  • In December 1920, Congress met once again in the Nagpur Session. This time the differences of CR das had melted away. He moved the main resolution of Non-cooperation.
  • A programme of surrender of titles, the boycott of schools, courts and councils, the boycott of foreign goods, the promotion maintenance of a Hindu-Muslim unity and strict non-violence was adopted.


Nagpur Session 1920

  • At the Nagpur session in December 1920, some crucial changes were made in the organization of the Congress, so that it becomes a real political party. These changes were actually mooted by Gandhi, but they confused Jinnah and Jinnah left the party, a beginning of the division that later would make him Qaide-i-azam of Pakistan. Here are a few important changes:
    • Earlier the object of the Congress was to attain self Government by constitutional and legal means. The new aim of congress was attainment of Swaraj by legitimate and peaceful means. Here, was confusion.
    • Jinnah and Madan Mohan Malviya were confused whether this object of Swaraj is to make any connection with the British Empire or any other way out. Jinnah was still not convinced because the objective was still not clear. Thus Jinnah said adieu to the Congress and left it after his association for 15 years with the party.
    • A 4 anna membership was launched so that more and more poor people could join the Congress
    • A hierarchy of village, taluka and district level committees was to be created so that Congress reaches to the Grassroots.
    • Reorganization of the Provincial Congress Committees so that now they would be organized on linguistic basis. The idea was to bring it close to the masses by using the vernacular languages.
    • The numbers of delegates were to be fixed in proportion to the population.
    • The above changes in Nagpur session paid the party dividends when it walked away with independence in 1947 and elections were held later on. Congress is still the largest political party in the country, though, now it is not of the same character and value


The Spread of Non-Cooperation Movement 1920-21

  • The Noncooperation movement was the first nationwide mass movement. The year 1921-22 witnessed an unprecedented movement in the nation’s history, when there was a widespread unrest among students. Here are some important points related to its spread in all over India:
  • A nationwide tour was taken up by Mahatma Gandhi and Ali Brothers of Khilafat movement C R Das. Moti Lal Nehru, M.R Jayakar. Saifuddin Kitchlew (Punjab), Vallabhai Patel, C.Rajagopalachari.
  • Prakasam and Asaf Ali left their legal practice and jumped in the full-fledged politics of congress. Thousands of students left government schools and colleges and joined the movement.
  • Maulana Mehrnud Hasan, laid the foundation stone of Jamia Millia lslamia at Aligarh on Friday, October 29, 1920, during the meeting of the Foundation Committee of Jamia Millia lslamia.
  • Bihar Vidyapeeth came into existence. The leaders of Indian movement started teaching in the pure Indian educational institutions.
  • In some provinces such as Bengal and Punjab, there was a complete boycott of education by the Firangies. The shops which sold foreign clothes were picketed. Khadi and Charkha became the symbol of national movement.
  • In Bengal, Someshwar Prasad Chaudhary led the peasants in a anti-indigo cultivation.
  • The Tana-Bhagat sect of Bihar boycotted the liquor.
  • In Punjab , Akali Movement that was originally for reforms in the Gurudwaras got linked with the noncooperation movement.
  • On 13 December 1920 after the formation of Shiromani Curudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), to secure Sikh Gurdwaras from corrupt priests, Akali Dal was formed. The prominent founders were Kartar Singh Jabbar, Master Tara Singh, Baba Kharak Singh.
  • Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee provided a focal point for the movement for the reformation of Sikh religious places. The Committee began to take over management of gurdwaras one by one, and were resisted by incumbent mahants of Udasi sect. The movement was weak in the Presidency of Bombay, where, the people were mourning on the demise of Tilak. The Gandhi magic did not work there.
  • In Andhra Pradesh, Alluri Sitaram Raju organized the tribals and linked with the Noncooperation movement.
  • In March 1921, there was a Congress session at Vijayawada, in which the congress rookies were directed to collect funds, enroll more and more members and distribute charkhas.
  • On July 21, 1921, All India Khilafat Conference was called in Karachi. Here, Maulana Mohammad Ali initiated a resolution that no Muslim should serve in the British Indian army. So, the Ali brothers were arrested for sedition. But, later congress also passed similar resolution and the Government had to ignore the whole episode.
  • In Midnapore of Bengal, a movement was led by Birendranath Sasmal against the union board of taxes. People in various parts of the country happily joined the No-tax to Government movement.
  • It was successful in the Andhra region.


Volunteer Corps

  • In November 1921, the Prince of Wales arrived in India. He was welcomed with strike in Bombay. The cup of Congress was full when the volunteers created a parallel unofficial police force, which was called Volunteer Corps.
  • In December 1921. the Government declared this corps illegal and banned all the public meetings, assemblies and all kinds of noise. The government took actions by declaring the activities of Congress and the Khilafat volunteers illegal. By December 1921 all main leaders of the movement were arrested and lodged in jails.
  • The newspapers offices were raided.
  • The Congress wanted to start mass civil disobedience movement. A letter was written by Gandhi to Viceroy Lord Reading to lift a ban on the civil liberties and release the political prisoners. The viceroy did not try to oblige. So, with this Gandhi announced that mass Civil Disobedience would begin from the Bardoli in Surat of the Bombay Presidency, the place where later, a Satyagraha would be launched in 1928.



  • In November 1920 the Muslim theologians had issued a joint pronouncement wherein, India was declared Dar-al-Harb (House of war). This pronouncement issued two options for the Muslims:
    • Wage a Holy war against the infidels Hijrat (migration)
    • Some 20 thousand Muslims adopted the second option and left India to Afghanistan. The Emir of Kabul refused to accept these people and this there was a chaos and misery among these poor Muslims.


Major Events of Non-Cooperation Movement

  • The visit of the Prince of Wales in November 1921 was marked with demonstrations, hartals and political meetings marred by scenes of mob violence and Police atrocities in Bombay. It was in December 1921, when some leaders such as Madan Mohan Malviya and Mohammad Ali Jinnah interceded with the viceroy to find some solutions to the deteriorating situation. The Viceroy agreed for a Round Table Conference but here, Gandhi demanded to release all the prisoners associated with the Khilafat Movement as a precondition. The Viceroy refused it.
  • In 1921, at the Allahabad Session of the Indian National Congress, it was decided to launch Non-cooperation movement at both individual and Mass levels. An appeal was made to all men over the age of 18 to join the Volunteer Corps. At this Allahabad Session, Gandhi was declared as sole of this movement.
  • In February 1922, Gandhi wrote to the viceroy and said that he had the intention to launch the movement in Bardoli in Gujarat, if the government fails to solve the Khilafat question and Punjab issue.


Outcome of Non-cooperation movement

  • The most significant impact of the NCM was that it brought Gandhi on the front seat of National Politics in India. He was regarded as a logical heir of Balgangadhar Tilak.
  • There was a mass imprisonment and the sense of terror of the jails was removed and “going to jail” became a badge of honor.



  • Gandhi’s decision had given a sudden jolt to the Congress. The reasons for which it was started were the Jallianwallah Bagh tragedy, Swaraj, problems of Khilafat volunteers etc. But none of them got a remedy. Gandhi’s idea of Swaraj in one year proved to be a bubble.
  • The boycott of the educational institutions was not accepted by many of the leaders such as Lala Lajpat Rai.
  • Some leaders did not like they way it was started, many other did not like the way it was conducted and most of them couldn’t digest the sudden withdrawal. There shock was for the people of Punjab who were waiting some wonders to happen that would punish the guilty of the Jallianwala massacre. Nothing happened and the revolutionary activities in Punjab again got a setback in Punjab. Some new outfits were born parallel to congress, because Congress was left without any political programme.



  • Congress became the party of common man. Now it was with widespread support of the average peasants, workers and the intellectuals.
  • Charkha and Khadi became symbol of Indian Nationalism.
  • Gandhi was able to see the real picture of India. He realized that the real power of India lies in the rural areas and not in urban area. There was a need for general awakening the masses to their political rights and privileges, and further there was a total loss of faith in the system of government. People could realize that it was only through their own efforts that India could hope to be free.
  • It revealed that the congress was the only organization while could properly direct national effort to gain freedom.
  • The movement also revealed that communal problem is going to be a big problem and this problem of communalism is absolutely state sponsored.


Moplah Rebellion 1921

  • The Moplah Rebellion or the Malabar Rebellion was an extended version of the Khilafat Movement in Kerala in 1921.
  • The Government had declared the Congress and Khilafat meetings illegal. So, a reaction in Kerala began against the crackdown of the British in Eranad and Valluvanad taluks of Malabar.
  • But the Khilafat meeting incited so much communal feelings among the Muslims peasants , known as Moplahs, that it turned out to become an anti hindu movement from July 1921 onwards.
  • The violence began and the Moplahs attacked the police stations and took control of them. They also seized the courts, and the government treasuries.
  • It became a communal riot when the kudiyaan or tenant Moplahs attacked their Hindu jenmis or landlords and killed many of them. Thus the Hindu Landlords became the victims of the atrocities of the Moplahs.
  • The leaders of this rebellion were: Variyankunnath Kunjahammed Haji, Seethi Koya Thangal of Kumaranpathor Ali Musliyar.
  • For two some two months the administration remained in the hands of the rebels. The military as well as Police needed to withdraw from the burning areas. Finally the British forces suppressed the movement with greater difficulty. The situation was under control by the end of the 1921.
  • This rebellion was so fearful that the government raised a special battalion, the Malabar Special Police (MSP).


Chauri Chaura Incident 1922

  • The Non-cooperation movement was on its pinnacle in all of north India. In South, though it was luke warm.
  • On February 4, 1922, a mob of 2000 people gathered to picket a liquor shop at Chauri Chaura, a town near Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. The local administration sent armed police to control the situation. The Police, tried to disperse the crowd by firing two shots in air. So stone pelting started. The police fired and killed 3 people. The result was that outrageous mob set the Police Chauki on fire an d all 23 Police wallas inside got burnt alive.
  • On 12 February 1922, when the Congress leaders met at Bardoli, Gandhi decided to withdraw the Noncooperation movement. It was a bit controversial but by that time Gandhi’s figure was respected by every Congressman. Thus, they accepted this decision, but they got demoralized and disintegrated.
  • Gandhi was arrested on 10 March 1922 and trial led at Ahmadabad. A simple prison of 6 years was awarded to him.


Chauri Chaura Incident and Swaraj Party

  • Chauri Chaura incident led Gandhi to call off the Non Cooperation Movement from Bardoli in February 1922. The event led to a Schism in the Congress Party when one faction of the leaders established the Congress-Khilafat-Swarajya Party.
  • Moti lal Nehru, C R Das, N C Kelkar, GS Gharpade and S Srinivas who founded the Swaraj party were in frustration due to sudden withdrawal of CDM by Gandhi via the Bardoli resolution on 12.2.1922. But as none of them was capable to lead such a large scale movement, they decided swaraj within the British Raj and that ‘s what led them to contest the elections and win some handsome number of seats.


Birth of Swaraj Party

  • The sudden withdrawal of the Non Cooperative Movement left congress with no other such programmes. There was an impatient section of the leaders in Congress whose expectations were wrapped up in the coming up elections in India in 1923, so that they enter into the legislatures and bring “change”. These elections had to be conducted as per the provisions of the Government of India Act 1919.
  • Pro-changers & No-changers
    • These leaders were Moti Lal Nehru, N C Kelkar and CR Das. They linked up with some Khilafat leaders such as Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and some other leaders such as Subhash Chandra Bose & Vithalbhai Patel and were known as Pro-Changers.
    • But, most of the leaders of Congress had now left the business of agitation for a while and started uplifting the poor people by teaching them how to use Charkha, denouncing untouchability, making nonviolence and Gandhian methods popular. These were called No-changers.
  • The Gaya session of Congress was organized in 1922, which was led by C R Das, who was leading the Pro-Changers.
  • The No-changers leader was C Rajgopalachari.
  • The outcome of this session was that once again these leaders got divided. CR Das resigned from the presidentship of the Congress and along with Moti Lal Nehru, N C Kelkar launched their own political outfit called “Congress Khilafat Swarajya Party” or simply the “Swarajya Party”.
  • In the elections they got elected in the councils and one among them Vithalbhai Patel became the President at the Central Legislative Assembly, some titular kind of arrangement with very limited powers . They could not bring any change except making a noise in the parliament.
  • However, one work was notable. It was making a noise so that the Government appoints Muddiman Committee to bring out the defects in the Government of India Act 1919.
  • On 5 February 1924, Gandhi was released from Jail due to health problems. He favored the No changers but wanted to stop a disastrous repeat of Surat split of 1907. So he wanted conciliation and in November that year he brought the strife between no-changers and Swarajists to an end. Both the parties signed the joint statement and declared that Swarajists would work in the council on behalf of and as an integral part of the Congress.
  • This decision was endorsed in the December 1924 Belgaum Session of Congress in which Gandhi became president of congress for first and only one time.
  • In 1925. C R Das Died and this was followed by Moti Lal Nehru return to congress a few years later.
  • Please note that in Madras Province, a different Madras Province Swarajya Party was established in 1923 by S. Sathyamurthy and S. Srinivasa Iyengar. This party later merged with the Congress in 1935, prior to the elections by the Government of India Act 1935.


Muddiman Committee

  • To meet the demand of the Indian Leaders and in view of the resolution adopted by Swaraj Party in early 1920s, the British Government had set up a committee under Sir Alexander Muddiman (Muddiman Committee), along with 4 Indian members, to go into the provisions of the Government of India Act 1919 and pinpoint the defects.
  • The members were: Sir Sivaswami Aiyar, Dr. R P Paranjape, Sir Tejbahadur Sapru , Mohammad Ali Jinnah


Separation of Khilafat leaders: Kakinada session 1923

  • There was another dangerous outcome of the sudden withdrawal of the Non Cooperation Movement. The direction less leadership actually disintegrated and now the communal elements became a permanent feature of the Indian Politics.
  • In September 1924, some Hindus were killed in the North West Frontier Province.
  • In April and July 1926, there were Hindu Muslim riots in Calcutta in which some 150 people lost their lives. Between 1923-27, there were a lot of communal riots in India. Delhi, Patna, Rawalpindi, Dhaka, Calcutta and Punjab got affected. The marriage of Khilafat movement and Congress soon ended into a divorce.
  • The 1923 Kakinada session of Congress was presided by Maulana Mohammad Ali and soon after this session he split from the Congress citing the communal riots.
  • The seeds of this schism were sown by the Government of India Act 1919, which broadened the franchise but preserved the system of separate electorates .
  • In Muslims, there was a growth of the Tabligh and Tanzims.
  • Among Hindus, the Arya Samajis started Shuddi sangathans.
  • The leader of the Arya Samajis was Swami Shraddhanad who was murdered later in 1926 in Delhi. 


Lahore session of Muslim League 1924

  • All India Muslim league got revived under Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
  • In 1924, they had a session at Lahore, thus met for the first time since 1918. This session saw a new demand of the Muslim league in which they asked for a federation with full provincial autonomy, so that they can preserve the Muslim majority areas from the danger of Hindus. This demand remained so (separate electorates) till 1940, after that they wanted nothing less than Pakistan.


Establishment of Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh 1925

  • In 1923, there was a Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and here the Hindu Mahasabha was revived by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.
  • Now the slogan of Hindu Mahasabha became the protection and promotion of the Hindu Civilization.
  • In 1925, Keshav Bahram Hedgewar founded the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Nagpur. Hedgewar , who had got his education in the Calcutta Medical College had been a part of the Anushilan Samiti and Yugantar and was a nationalist by heart. He became a member of Indian National Congress initially but left it soon and established RSS. The idea was to train the Hindu youths so that they united the Hindu Community and make India an Independent undivided country. He was much influenced by V D Savarkar and adopted his ideals.


Emergence of Communists in India

  • The Russian Revolution of 1917 had a great impact on the minds of the Indian People. So naturally when the Non cooperation movement turned out to be a failure, they were dissatisfied. The image of Gandhi was also tarnished.
  • One of the members of the Anushilan -Manabendra Nath Roy was very much influenced by the communist thoughts. His original name was Narendra Nath Bhattacharya and in 1907, when he was a young man of 20 years had conducted a political dacoity, to raise money for Anushilan. He was arrested but was defended by J N Roy and was released. Later he tried to get arm making techniques in Batvia, unsuccessfully. After that he reached California and then married a Californian girl and settled in New York. In New York he studied Marxism. But he was pursued by the British spies out there. So he fled to Mexico and from there he developed contacts with the Germans. In 1930 he came to Bombay and was arrested in 1931 and sent to jail for 6 years.
  • On 20 October 1920, he had been in Russia to attend the second congress of communist international. Here as per the sources of one faction of (PI with his wife Evelyn Trent Roy, Abani Mukherji, Rosa Fiting, Mohammad Ali , Mohammad Shafiq Siddiqui and MPST Acharya founded the Communist Party of India in Tashkent. At the same time, a Berlin group was launched by Virendranath Chattophadhyaya, Bhupendra Dutt et al. Thus, the communist party of India was launched in Tashkent in October 1920. But this was only the primitive work done. For the next five years, various Communist groups were launched in various parts of India.
  • It was in December 1925, when Satyabhakta organized these small organizations into one All India Conference of the Communists at Kanpur. The president of the All India Conference of Communists was Singarvelu Chettiar from the Madras Province. This conference is known as the “formal” beginning of communist party of India in 1925, from Kanpur.


Another view of genesis of CPI

  • Please note that in 1922-24, communist party faced a series of conspiracy cases such as Peshawar and Kanpur Bolshevik conspiracy case.
  • In 1924, Satyabhakta announced the formation of CPI and he became the secretary.
  • Most of these of groups came together at Kanpur in December 1925 and founded an all India organization under the name of Communist Party Of India in December 1925 V. Ghate became general secretary of CPI.
  • In March 1929, government arrested 32 radical political and trade union activist, including Bradley and Lester Hutchinson in the Meerut conspiracy case, defense of the prisoners was to be taken by many nationalists includingC. Chagla, M.A. Ansari, Jawaharlal Nehru , K.N. Katju, etc.
  • In 1934, the communist party was declared illegal.


Beginning of All India Trade Union Congress 1920

  • In October 1920, when MN Roy was laying the foundation of CPI in Tashkent in Russia, back at home, Lala Lajpat Roy was busy in giving rise to the oldest trade Union federation of India.
  • In 1920, India saw more than two hundred strikes, as they were the most popular means of public protest. Most of these strikes were called by the labor.
  • On October 31, 1920, the first session of the All India Trade Union Congress was held at Bombay under Lala Lajpat Roy, thus marking the beginning of AITUC. Today AITUC has over 27 Lakh members and is politically affiliated with the CPI.


Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) 1924

  • Mahatma Gandhi had created a wave of dissatisfaction among the revolutionaries by a sudden suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • So these decisions disillusioned many young men who were full of energy to fight the Government. These young men did not like the theory of nonviolence. They had confidence that the British can be thrown out of the country by using of force and violence.
  • At the same time, there were uprisings in other parts of world and one could witness a number of bloody revolutions and coupe de etat around the word. The result was that the old Yugantar and Anushilan samiti got awaken and a new breed of terroristic kind of revolutionaries emerged from the unenthusiastic and unsatisfied Non-cooperators.
  • In the village of Bholachang in East Bengal, there was meeting between some of these young men viz. Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Narendra Mohan Sen, Pratul Ganguly. Here, they established an offshoot to the Anushilan samiti. The name was chosen as Hindustan Republican Association on the lines of Irish Republican Army. The manifesto of this revolutionary organization was “The Revolutionary”.
  • The Objective of the HRA was to establish “Federated Republic of the United States of India” through an organized armed revolution”
  • The tactics of HRA were killing the officials; organize political dacoties to raise funds, terrorism among the British and British loyalists and strikes against the raj. However, it is incorrect to say that these revolutionaries were terrorists by attitude.
  • The perspective of the HRA was socialistic and it wanted to establish a United States of India by deposing the British. The idea attracted the young champions; some immediately joined the organization were Bhagat Singh, ChandraShekhar Azad, Sukhdev, Ram Prasad Bismil, Roshan Singh, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and many others. The first organized ‘crime’ of this group was the Kakori Train Conspiracy. 


Kakori Train Conspiracy

  • The idea that objects of the political dacoties must be to secure money belonging to the Government was that of Ram Prasad Bismil. The idea was accepted and it followed a plan that a running train at Kakori on the Lucknow-Saharanpur section should be looted.
  • The Railway was carrying the Government chest and it was plundered successfully by 10 HRA revolutionaries. But the whole plot was unearthed. The result was arrest of some 30 people and all of them were trailed in the Kakori Conspiracy Case.
  • The people who were arrested as follows: Swaran Singh (uncle of Bhagat Singh), Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri, Durga Bhabhi (Durga Bhagavati Chandra Vohra), Roshan Singh, Sachindra Bakshi, Chandrasekhar Azad, Vishnu Sharan Dublish, Keshab Chakravarthy, Banwari Lal, Mukundi Lal, Sachindra Nath Sanyal,Manmathnath Gupta.
  • These detainees were provided legal defense by Pandit Gobind Ballabh Pant, Mohanlal Saxena, Chandrabhanu Gupta, Ajit Prasad Jain, Gopinath Srivastava, R. M. Bahadurji and B. K. Chaudhury.
  • The following 5 members of given sentence to death. Swaran Singh, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Rajendra Lahiri and Roshan Singh
  • Swaran Singh was the uncle of Bhagat Singh. His martyrdom inspired Bhagat Singh.
  • The Urdu poem Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna was made popular by Ram Prasad Bismil. This poem was actually written by Bismil Azimabadi. This poem is associated with Ashfaqullah Khan, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, and Chandrashekhar Azad, who got very much inspired. Rest all were either put in jail for long term or were deported for life. The result was that HRA came to almost an end.


Peshawar Conspiracy Case 1923

  • Peshawar Conspiracy case is related to the Muslims taking interest in the Communist revolution of Russia. Many Muslims from Peshawar went to Moscow and started getting training related to Military and Communist regimes. When they returned to create disturbances, the Government caught them on the way and trialed them. Many of them were sentenced to long imprisonment.


Kanpur Bolshevik Conspiracy Case 1924

  • Kanpur Conspiracy Case was also against the newbie communists which were abhorred by the British Government.
  • Some newly turned communists named M N Roy, Muzaffar Ahamed, S A Dange, Shaukat Usmani, Nalini Gupta, Singaravelu Chettiar, Ghulam Hussain were caught by the Government and were trailed for conspiring against the Government.
  • The Charge on them was “to deprive the King Emperor of his sovereignty of British India, by complete separation of India from imperialistic Britain by a violent revolution.” But this case, brought the communists in the lime light.
  • The newspapers covered the matter exhaustively and this was for the first time the people of India could know the communist doctrine in details. So, this case was responsible for introduction of Communism to the Indian Public.
  • In this case, M N Roy was charged in absentia, so he was not arrested.
  • Ghulam Hussain turned a British informer and was pardoned. Rest all people were arrested and sent to jail for 4 years.


Arrival of Lord Irwin 1926

  • On April 3, 1926 Lord Irwin was appointed 30th Viceroy and Governor-General of India. He succeeded Lord Reading. This was the most tumultuous period for the politics of India. The following important events happened during the times of Lord Irwin:
    • Appointment of Simon Commission
    • Nehru Report
    • All Parties Conference.
    • Jinnah’s 14 Points
    • Civil disobedience Movement
    • Round Table Conferences.


Simon Commission 1927

  • Government of India Act 1919 had introduced the system of dyarchy to govern the provinces of British India. This act had a provision that a commission would be appointed after 10 years to investigate the progress of the governance scheme and suggest new steps for reform.
  • The Government in England was a conservative Government which was not in very much favor of giving any control to Indians.
  • In March 1927, his majesty’s Government announced its decision to appoint the “Statutory Commission” in advance of the prescribed date. (The commission was supposed to be set up in 1929).
  • The announcement came as a surprise. Indians were already in a state of frustration. The Congress was almost agenda less and no active programme was there except the Khadi. The Swarajists were in the Legislative Council and had lost cohesiveness with the Congress. So, for the agenda-less Congress, Simon Commission came as a blessing in disguise and they got an issue to take up effectively.
  • The personnel of the Commission and its terms of reference were announced in November 1927. It had 7 members which were lifted from the three political parties of the British Parliament under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon. None of the Indians was appointed in the commission and the promise of appeasing the Indian opinion seemed to be a bubble. When no Indian was included in the commission, it was like depriving of their right to participate in the determination of the constitution of their own country.
  • At the annual session of the Congress in Madras in December 1927, a resolution was passed which advocated the boycott of the Simon Commission “at every stage and in every form”. Other factions of the politicians also joined the suit.
  • However, in Muslim league, there was a split of thought. Jinnah was for boycotting the commission; but Muhammad Shafi was for support for the Government.
  • Thus in 1927, Muslim league had two sessions- One was led by Jinnah at Calcutta where he opposed the Commission.
  • Another was held at Lahore that was led by Muhammad Shafi, where he supported the Government.
  • So, all parties except the Shafi group of Muslim league and a Justice Party at Madras, were against the Simon Commission.
  • Explicit and Implicit Objectives of Simon Commission
    • To delay the process of transfer of power from the British to the people.
    • To further widen the communal feelings by diametrically provisions which could be diametrically opposed to the interests of the two communities
    • To show the people that British were sincere in the efforts in giving people the self rule but it was Indians who could not decide for a consensus on power-sharing.
    • To give impression of a federal constitution so that week centre and a powerful province can be created. It would created feelings of regionalism which is an antidote to nationalism.
    • To give political autonomy without economic autonomy.


Recommendations of Simon Commission

  • There should be a constitutional reconstruction. It would be a federal constitution.
  • The provinces should be given full autonomy including law.
  • The governor should have discretionary power to relate to internal security and administrative powers to protect the different communities.
  • The number of members of provincial legislative council should be increased.
  • Governor general should have complete power to appoint the members of the cabinet.
  • The government of India should have complete control over the high court.


Limitations of Simon Commission

  • No Indians members in the commission.
  • No universal franchise was proposed.
  • The position of governor-general remained unaffected.
  • No provision to abolish separate electorate but rather extended to other communities as well.
  • No financial devolution was proposed.


Hindustan Socialist Republican Association 1928

  • The sole remaining absconder of the Kakori Conspiracy of 1923 was Chandra Sekhar Azad.
  • He was born in 1906 in Jhabua District of Madhya Pradesh and was deeply disturbed by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He had actively participated in the Non-cooperation movement but was jolted due to sudden withdrawal of the movement. At that time he age was around 15 years and this young boy was sent to prison at this tender age.
  • After the Kakori conspiracy, 5 members as mentioned above were sentenced to death.
  • Other members either were sent for long imprisonments or deported for life. Chandrasekhar led the remaining revolutionaries and on September 9-10, 1928 at Feroz Shah Kotla Maidan of Delhi and he along with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Batukeshwar Dutt, and Rajguru founded the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association or the Garam Dal.
  • This HSRA brought out a Manifesto known as “Philosophy of the Bomb”. This manifesto was written by Bhagawathi Charan Vohra. 


Lahore Conspiracy Case 1928-31

  • The political parties boycotted the Simon commission and this was followed by a wave of demonstrations all over India.
  • In Lahore, Lala Lajpat Rai was leading an anti-Simon Commission demonstration on 30 October 1928, when the brutal Lathicharge claimed his life.
  • The death of Lala Lajpat Rai led the HSRA again take the path of assassination of the British. The death of Lala Lajpat Rai led the HSRA again take the path of assassination of the British. To avenge the killing of Lal Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh, Raj guru, Jai Gopal and Sukh Dev conspired to kill the police chief, Scott.
  • But they shot on the DSP – J. P. Saunders, who was killed on the spot.
  • Bhagat Singh immediately fled from Lahore and to avoid recognition, he cut his beard and hair. Later he was trailed in this Lahore Conspiracy Case when he was captured after throwing bomb in Delhi Assembly.


Nehru Report 1928

  • At the annual session of the Congress in Madras in December 1927, a resolution was passed which advocated the boycott of the Simon Commission “at every stage and in every form”. Other factions of the politicians also joined the suit.
  • On February 3, 1928 a complete Hartal was observed in Mumbai on the day when Simon Commission landed in Bombay. Wherever the commission goes, people came out in processions and show him “Simon Go Back”. But the commission had to do its duty. It visited twice in 1928 and 1929 and finally submitted its report in May 1930. But, it was not to be accepted by the Indian Leaders.
  • The secretary of state for India was Lord Birkenhead, who threw a challenge to these congressmen to prepare a draft of constitution of India.
  • The political leaders accepted the challenge and this was followed by a call for All party conference in February and May 1928. The outcome of the All Parties Conference was that a committee was appointed under the Chairman ship of Motilal Nehru, to draft the proposed constitution. The draft constitution was prepared which was called “Nehru Committee Report”. This report was submitted on August 28, 1928 at the Lucknow conference of all the parties. But Jinnah Voted against this report.
  • The main points of this report were as follows:
    • India would be given Dominion status. This means independence within the British Commonwealth.
    • India will be a federation which shall have a bicameral legislature at the centre and Ministry would be responsible to the legislature.
    • Governor General of India would be the constitutional head of India and will have the same powers as that of British Crown.
    • There will be no separate electorate.
    • The draft report also defined the citizenship and fundamental rights.
    • The novel features of the Nehru Committee Report were almost accepted by the Indian leaders.
  • The next session of the Congress was held in Calcutta in December 1928. In this session, the Nehru Report was accepted by a majority vote.
  • The congress gave an ultimatum to the British Government to accept the recommendation of the report by December 31, 1929, and also threatened for another mass movement in case the report is not accepted. The report was not accepted by the Government.
  • Was Nehru Report a Reversal of Lucknow Pact? Yes.
    • The Motilal Nehru Committee Report, published in 1928 recommended reservation of seats for Muslims only in provinces where they were in a minority.
    • The report proposed to abolish separate electorates, to discard reservation of seats for Muslim majorities in the Punjab and Bengal and to reject the principle of weightage for Muslim minorities. This was a reversal of the Lucknow Pact.
    • The Nehru Report asked for a political status of India as a dominion, which should be the same as that of British dominions like Canada, south Africa.
    • It asked for a similar reservation for Hindus in NWFP.
    • The provinces of Sindh and Karnataka shall be separate any further reorganization of proposed report was good but not practical.
  • The joint and mixed concept was practically unacceptable for the Muslim league.


14 Points of Jinnah

  • In the All parties meeting at Calcutta in December 1928, Jinnah moved certain amendments to the Nehru Report. But these amendments were not accepted by Congress. So Jinnah et al refused to participate further in the conference.
  • A few days later, there was a Muslim All Parties conference was held in Delhi, in which the nationalist Muslims attended and formulated a series of demands on behalf of the Muslims of the Country. In this All Muslim Parties conference, it was made clear that no constitution, by whomsoever proposed or devised, would be acceptable to the Muslims of the country, unless it conformed with those demands. At the same time Jinnah after consulting the Muslim leaders formulated the “Fourteen Points” for safeguarding the rights and interests of the Muslims in any future constitution of the country.
  • Here are these 14 points:
    • The form of the future constitution should be Federal, with the residuary power vested in the provinces.
    • A Uniform measure of the autonomy shall be granted to all provinces.
    • All legislatures in the country and other elected bodies shall be constituted on the definite principle of adequate and effective representation of minorities in every province without reducing the majority in any province to minority or even equality.
    • In the Central legislature Muslim representation shall not be less than one third.
    • Representation of the communal groups shall continue to be by separate electorates provided that it shall be open to any community at any time to abandon its separate electorate in favor of the joint electorates.
    • Any terrestrial redistribution that might at any time be necessary shall not in any way affect the Muslim majority in Punjab, Bengal and NWF Province.
    • Full religious liberty that is liberty of belief, worship and observance, propaganda, association and education shall be guaranteed to all communities.
    • No bill or resolution or any part thereof shall be passed in any legislature or any other elected body if three fourth of the members of any community in that particular body oppose it being injurious to that of the community.
    • Sind should be separated from the Bombay Presidency.
    • Reforms should be made in the NWF Province and Baluchistan.
    • Provision should be made in the Constitution giving Muslims an adequate share along with the other Indians in all the services of the State and Local self Governing bodies having due regard to the requirements of efficiency.
    • The Constitution should embody adequate safeguards to the protection of the Muslim Culture, education, language, religion, personal laws, and Muslim charitable institutions. They should get their due share in grant-in-aid.
    • No cabinet, either central or provincial, should be formed without there being at least one third of the Muslim Ministers.
    • No change shall be made in the constitution by the Central legislature except with the concurrence of the states constituting the Indian Federation.


Poorna Swarajya Resolution: Lahore Session 1929

  • When the Nehru Report came before the annual session of the Congress in Calcutta in December 1928, the left lashed it out on the fact that it did not want the complete Independence and wanted only a dominion status.


Independence of India League

  • Meanwhile in April 1928, the “Independence of India League” was formed with Jawahar Lal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose as Secretaries and S. Srinivasa Iyengar as President.
  • The Congress session at Calcutta marked an almost split among the leaders who wanted dominion and leaders who wanted complete Independence.
  • Ultimately it was resolved that if the British parliament accepts the Nehru report by 31 December 1929, Congress would adopt the report as it is.
  • If the report is not accepted by the British parliament, Congress would insist in Complete Independence and would organize a nonviolent Non cooperation movement. The one year deadline passed and no positive reply came from the Government.
  • This was followed by Lahore Session of Congress which was presided by Jawahar Lal Nehru.
  • The most land mark resolution was that the Nehru Committee Report had now lapsed and Dominion status will not be acceptable. A Poorna Swarajya Resolution was passed and it was Swarajya means complete Independence.
  • In pursuance with this resolution, the Central and Provincial Legislatures had to be boycotted completely and all the future elections were also to be boycotted.
  • A Programme of the Civil Disobedience was to be launched.
  • On the midnight of December 31, 1929 and January 1, 1930, the deadline of the Nehru Committee report expired and Jawahar Lal Nehru unfurled the Flag of India’s independence on the bank of River Ravi in Lahore.
  • The Congress working committee met on January 2, 1930 and on that day it was decided that the January 26, 1930 should be observed as Poorna Swarajya Day., as on that day, a Poorna Swarajya pledge was drafted by Mahatma Gandhi.


Trial and Execution of Bhagat Singh 1931

  • After the murder of Saunders, Bhagat Singh and others went underground.
  • The Government enacted the Defense of India Act, which gave more power to Police such as preventive detention and admissibility of evidence which did not conform to the Indian Evidence act.
  • To protest against this act , Hindustan Socialist Republican Association conspired to explode a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly where the ordinance was to be passed. The idea was of Bhagat Singh and it was influenced by a similar bombing by anarchist Auguste Vaillant in the French Assembly who said” “It takes loud noise to make the deaf hear”.
  • On 8 April 1929, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb onto the corridors of the assembly and shouted “Inquilab Zindabad!”.
  • After that they showered the leaflets stating that it takes a loud voice to make the deaf hear. The bomb was not intended to kill or injure any one. It was just to make noise. It was later proved by the forensics also that the bomb was not powerful to kill anybody. Bhagat Singh and Dutt surrendered themselves and were transported for life on June 12, 1929.
  • Meanwhile, in April Police discovered the Lahore Bomb Factory, followed by arrest of other members of HSRA. Out of them 7 became informants and they helped the British to solve the mystery of JP Saunders Murder and Bhagat Singh was connected to that Lahore Conspiracy. The trial began with charges of murder on Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev.
  • During the trial, Bhagat Singh and others launched hunger strike for the rights of under trials and prisoners. After 64 days strike, Jatin Das, one of the under trials died on September 13, 1929. It ended the strike and Bhagat Singh demands were accepted by the Jail authorities.
  • In May 1930, an ordinance was passed by Lord Irwin declaring an emergency.
  • The Lahore Conspiracy Case was shifted from the court of an Indian Judge to special Tribunal of three Judges which was given the power to proceed with the case in the absence of the accused and accept death of the persons giving evidence as a benefit to the defense. The Tribunal was also the highest court of appeal. The tribunal gave its verdict on 7 October 1930, Bhagat Singh, Sukh Dev and Raj guru were given Capital Punishment in the Lahore Conspiracy Case.
  • The other members of HSRA wished to free them by attacking on the prison. This was to be done by exploding bombs in the jails which had to be prepared by Bhagawathi Charan Vora. But the unlucky bomb maker died while making bombs when one of the bombs exploded. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged in Lahore on March 23, 1931.


Chittagong Armory Raid 1930

  • On April 18, 1930, there was an attempt to raid the armory of the Police and Auxiliary forces from the Chittagong armory in Bengal.
  • The leader of this conspiracy & raid was Surya Sen. Apart from Surya Sen, these patriots included Ganesh Ghosh, Lokenath Bal, Nirmal Sen, Ambika Chakrobarty, Naresh Roy, Sasanka Datta, Ardhendu Dastidar, Harigopal Bal , Tarakeswar Dastidar, Ananta Singh, Jiban Ghoshal, Anand Gupta, Pritilata Waddedar and Kalpana Dutta.
  • The idea was to capture the two main armories in Chittagong and then demolish the Telegraph and telephone office. It was to be followed by the assassination of Europeans.
  • The plan was put into implementation on the night of April 18, 1930. On that night, the armory of the police was captured by Ganesh Ghosh. Lokenath Bal took over the Auxiliary Force armory. But the ammunition was not located. They dislocated the telephone and telegraph communications and disrupted the movement of the trains. 65 people executed this conspiracy in the name of Indian Republican Army. After everything was done, all the revolutionaries gathered outside the police armory where Surya Sen took a military salute, hoisted the National Flag and proclaimed a Provisional Revolutionary Government.
  • After that they fled to the hills. They were pursued by the Police; surrounded by the British Indian Army in the Jalalabad Hills. There was an encounter. Surya Sen was successful in fleeing. The revolutionaries who were arrested in Chittagong were captured and trailed and 12 people were deported for life.
  • In February 1933, Surya Sen was arrested by the Police because of a tip off. He was trailed and hanged in the January 1934.


Salt Satyagraha 1930 & beginning of Civil Disobedience Movement

  • Salt Satyagraha 1930 Mahatma Gandhi was authorized by the Congress Working Committee to determine the time, place and issue on which the Civil Disobedience was to be launched.
  • He took the decision to break the salt law first, on which the British had imposed a duty, affecting the poorest of the poor.
  • Salt Satyagraha began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930 and was the part of the first phase of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • Gandhi led the Dandi march from Sabarmati Ashram to the sea coast near the village of Dandi. In this journey of 24 days and covering a distance of 390 kilometer, thousands of people joined him. He reached Dandi on April 6, 1930, and broke the salt law. This triggered the Civil Disobedience Movement and millions of Indians jumped in the tumult.


Beginning of Civil Disobedience Movement

  • Breaking of the salt law was the formal inauguration of the Civil Disobedience Movement. A programme was outlined, which included the following:
    • Violation of the laws such as Salt Law Non payment of Land Revenue, Taxes and Rent Boycott of courts of law, legislatures, elections, Government functionaries, Schools and Colleges.
    • Peaceful picketing of shops that sold foreign goods.
    • Mass strikes and processions.
    • Picketing of shops that sold liquor.
    • Boycott of Civil Services, Military and Police services.
  • The Government came into action by putting the law breakers in jails and suppressing them by police firings, lathicharge and other means.
  • 60 Thousand people were arrested in less than one year.
  • Those who did not pay taxes, the properties were confiscated.
  • Gandhi and all important leaders were arrested and placed behind the bars.


Recommendations of Simon Commission 1930

  • The recommendations of the Simon Commission were published in May 1930. They were as follows:
  • Dyarchy in the provinces should be abolished and ministers should be made responsible to the provincial legislatures in all departments, including the department of law and order.
  • The Governor was to retain the special powers for the safety and tranquility of the province and for the protection of the minorities. He would also have full powers of intervention in the event of breakdown of the constitution.
  • The Franchise was to be extended and legislatures were to be enlarged.
  • At the centre, a Federal assembly would be constituted on the basis of representation of the provinces and other areas as per the population.
  • The council of state would continue as the Upper House but its members would be chosen not on the basis of direct election but on the basis of indirect election by the Provincial councils.
  • No change in the central executive.
  • The all India federation was not considered practical idea for immediate execution.
  • Burma should be separated from the British India and should be provided a constitution of its own. 


First Round Table Conference 1930

  • On 11 September 1930, the personnel of the Round Table Conference were announced. The conference was opened officially by King George V on November 12, 1930 in London.
  • It was chaired by British PM Ramsay MacDonald.
  • 16 delegates represented the three political parties of Britain and 57 political leaders from India representing all shades of Indian opinion, minus Indian National Congress.
  • The main Indian representatives were as follows:
    • Muslim League: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Shafi, Aga Khan, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, A.K. Fazlul Huq
    • Hindu Mahasabha: S. Moonje and M.R. Jayakar
    • Indian Liberal Party : Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamani and Srinivasa Sastri
    • Sikhs: Sardar Ujjal Singh
    • The Untouchables: B. R. Ambedkar Dewans of many princely states.
  • The concept of All India Federation was supported.
  • Ambedkar demanded a separate electorate for the Untouchables.
  • Most of the congress leaders were absent because they were either in Jails or followed the decision of Congress to boycott the conference.
  • So, without congress, the entire exercise turned out to be fruitless.
  • After the failure of the First Round Conference, many leaders mainly the pro-Bitish members of Indian Liberal Party such as Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamani and Srinivasa Sastri appealed Gandhi to talk with the Viceroy.
  • The talks between Gandhi and Irwin were arranged. Many congress leaders were released to make a favorable environment.


Gandhi- Irwin Pact 1931, March 5

  • Gandhi was authorized by the Congress to negotiate with Lord Irwin. The talks prolonged and the outcome of these talks was a pact known as Gandhi Irwin pact that was signed on March 5, 1931. Its main points were as follows:
    • Gandhi agreed to discontinue the Civil Disobedience movement, on behalf of the Indian National Congress.
    • Congress agreed to join the second Round Table Conference to chalk out the constitutional reforms on the basis of Federation Responsibility, Safeguards for Indian opinion on matters of defense, external affairs, minorities and finances.
    • The ordinance that was promulgated in the wake of the Civil Disobedience Movement was agreed to be withdrawn.
    • All those detained in connection with the movement were to be released.
    • The Government agreed to permit some people living at the sea cost to collect duty free salt.
    • Government agreed to let the people picket peacefully, the shops that sold liquor.
    • agreed to give back some of confiscated property
    • did not agree to release persons who committed violence.
    • It didn’t release bhagat singh etc.


Second Round Table conference 1931

  • The Second Round Table conference was held in less auspicious environment. In India, Lord Irwin was replaced by Lord Wellingdon, who remained India’s Viceroy till 1936.
  • In England, The Labor Government was now replaced by a National Coalition Government.
  • Samuel Hoare was the Secretary of State for Government of India.
  • Meanwhile, there was a strong reaction in India against the statement of Winston Churchill who called Gandhi a “Naked Seditious Fakir”. There were political and financial pressure on the Imperial Government.
  • The period of 1928 to 1931 also marked the large number of revolutionary activities in which many Europeans were killed.
  • The Second Round Conference opened on September 7, 1931.
  • Gandhi represented Indian National Congress and Sarojini Nayudu represented Indian women.
  • Madan Mohan Malaviya, Ghanshyam Das Birla, Muhammad Iqbal, Sir Mirza Ismail Diwan of Mysore, S K Dutta and Sir Syed Ali Imam were other people that attended the conference. This conference saw an overwhelming number of Indian delegates.
  • These included loyalists, communalists, careerists, big landlords, representatives of the princes and all sorts of Tom, Dick and Harry. So, now the Government claimed that the Congress did not represent the interests of All India.
  • But, Gandhi claimed that Congress Represented India. Gandhi iterated the need of a partnership between Britain and India as between two equal nations. His demands were :
    • A responsible government must be established immediately and in full, both at the centre and in the provinces.
    • Congress alone represented political India
    • The Untouchables were Hindus and should not be treated as a “minority”
    • There should be no separate electorates or special safeguards for Muslims or other minorities. But these claims of Gandhi were rejected by the other Indian delegates.
    • The conference was deadlocked on the minorities’ issue for; separate electorate was now being demanded by the Muslims, Dalits, Christians, Anglo Indians, and Europeans etc.
  • The result was that the Conference ended on December 11, 1931 and Gandhi came back to pavilion without any score.
  • In the last document, we studied that with the advent of the coalition Government in England, the whole atmosphere of the Second Round Table conference got changed and the sole outcome of this session was the widening of the gap between the Congress and the minorities.
  • Except Sikhs, all of the minorities (including Dalits) wanted to get their own separate electorates. So, on the one side, Minorities were in opposition, who wanted to reach at an agreement among them. On the other side, it was the antagonistic British Government, which was for anything opposite to the Indian aspirations. Result? Gandhi came back, disappointed, without any achievement.


Civil Disobedience Movement Second Phase 1931-1934

  • When Gandhi was in England to attend the round table conference, the political situation in India got even worse. There was a general disturbance in Bengal, United Provinces and Punjab.
  • The Viceroy had issued an array of ordinances, which gave the authorities unlimited powers. This is called by many scholars as “Civil Martial Law”.
  • There were no civil liberties. The authorities could detain people and seize their property at will.
  • In a proposed launch of no-rent campaign by the Congress, Jawahar Lal Nehru had been arrested.
  • In NWF province, Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan (The Frontier Gandhi) had also been arrested along with his comrades – The Red Shirts.
  • Gandhi arrived from London on 28 December 1931 and on that day, Congress Working Committee decided to resume the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • Within a week, on 4 January 1932, Gandhi was arrested. In the first 4 months, around 80 thousand people were jailed. Lakhs of people jumped into the protests all over India. They just did two main things i.e. picket the shops that sold liquor and foreign cloth and carried out processions. The Congress and other political parties were declared an illegal organization. The offices and funds of these parties were seized. All the Ashrams of Gandhi were occupied by the Police.
  • But the movement could not build the tempo and was crushed within a few months. Officially, the Civil Disobedience movement was suspended in May 1933 and it was finally withdrawn in May 1934.


Assessment of the Civil Disobedience Movement

  • While the Non-cooperation Movement was launched to remedy the wrongs of the Government of India Act 1919, the Civil Disobedience Movement was launched as an attempt to attain Poorna Swarajya.
  • The Congress became so popular that in 1937, when elections were held, it swept away all others. The Non-cooperation movement was the beginning, and there was no deliberated violation of law. But in the Civil Disobedience Movement laws were deliberately broken; it became popular among the rural and poor.
  • The picketing of the Liquor shops was something which made the women an indispensable part of the Civil Disobedience Movement. The impact of this movement was slow but definite. In due course of time, CPI emerged as an alternative to the Congress.
  • The gap between Hindu and Muslims became so wide that it culminated in partition, around a decade and half later.
  • The second phase of the Civil disobedience Movement also saw the significant uprising in two princely states viz. Kashmir & Alwar in Rajasthan. The uprising in Alwar is also called the Mev Uprising; the Mevs are the semi-tribal peasants of Alwar district. These people rose against the Maharaja Jaisingh against the revenue enhancement measures. The result was the Maharaja of Alwar was sent to Europe and Alwar administration came under the Central Government for many years. It was the second half of 1932, when it was almost clear that the Civil disobedianece Movement is going to prove to be fruitless.
  • The days of Gandhi’s Satyagraha seemed to have gone, and the Peasants were almost against Gandhi because, they never wanted to lose their lands. The result was that in many Zamindari areas, the peasants turned radicals. Some Kisan Sabhas came up and many peasants started leaning towards the Communists.


Communal Award August 1932

  • On August 16, 1932, the British Prime Minister McDonald announced the Communal Award. Thus it is also known as McDonald Award.
  • The Communal Award was basically a proposal on minority representation.
  • Major proposals were as follows:
    • The existing seats of the provincial legislatures were to be doubled.
    • The system of separate electorates for the minorities was to be retained. The Muslims, wherever they were in minority, were to be granted a weightage.
    • Except NWFP, 3 % seats for women were to be reserved in all provinces.
    • The depressed , dalits or the untouchables were to be declared as minorities.
    • Allocation was to be made to labor, landlords, traders and industrialists.
    • Thus, this award accorded separate electorates for Muslims, Europeans, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo Indians, Depressed Classes, and even Marathas. (Some seats in Bombay were given to Marathas)
    • The depressed classes were given seats which had to be filled by election from the special constituencies in which only they could vote. However, they were eligible to vote in the general constituencies as well.
    • The labor, Commerce and Industry, Mining and Planting, Landholders were also given special electorates.
    • Sikhs were 13.2% of the population in Punjab. Here they were given 32 seats out of the total 175 seats.
  • Do you agree that McDonald award was another manifestation of British policy of divide and rule? Absolutely Yes.
    • The McDonald Award was based on the British theory that India was not a nation, but is a conglomeration of racial, religious and cultural groups, castes and interests. The British knew the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian Society and knew that Indian society had a tendency to gravitate towards localism and regionalism and the reason was obvious: India was a self-sufficient country based on self-sufficient units and there was very little interaction between the two.
    • The British were very much aware that a sense of nationalism is always an antidote to imperialism. We can also say that the British had a single point agenda to strike down the nationalism and to create parochial loyalties among the smaller communities. This was one of the reasons that British came up with the concept of separate electorate, as Elections are a powerful means for the allocation of power and therefore, So, we agree with this point that McDonald award was to debilitate national unity by creating different spheres of interests. It was dangerous and Gandhi knew it. The new challenge was to combat with the feeling of separatism. This award started a policy of appeasement and quota, which is still killing India, slowly.
    • It was declared by Gandhi for more than once that the separate electorates for the depressed class was an attempt to divide and detach the depressed classes from the main body of Hindus. It seemed to him the these Firangies are going to break the country on the basis of the communities and so, he wrote a letter to the Prime Minister that if the award, so far it was related to the Depressed class, is not changed, he would sit on a fast unto death.
    • On 20 September 1932, Gandhiji sat on the fast unto death in the Yarawada Jail, in which he was lodged at that time. The Hindu leaders woke up and went directly to Dr. Ambedkar, to negotiate on this matter. The outcome of these negotiations was Poona Pact of 1932.


Poona Pact of September 1932

  • The Poona Pact was the agreement between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Br Ambedkar reached on 25 September 1932.
  • The major points in this pact were as follows:
    • 148 seats were to be allotted to the depressed classes in the provincial legislatures. This was more than double from the 71 seats as promised in the Communal Award.
    • Certain percentage of the seats allotted to the general Non-Muslim electorate would be reserved for the depressed classes.
    • Congress agreed that adequate representation would be given to the depressed classes in the civil services.
    • The depressed classes agreed to adhere to the principle of Joint Electorate. We see that the Poona pact was more generous to the depressed classes comparing to the Communal award.
    • The seats reserved for the Depressed Classes out of the general Non-Muhammaden seats in the provincial legislatures were as follows: Madras 30 Bombay plus Sind: 15 Punjab : 8 Bihar & Orissa : 18 Central Provinces: 20 Assam : 7 Bengal : 30 United provinces : 20
  • What is Joint Electorate?
    • The election to these seats was to be by joint electorates. This means that all the members of the depressed classes registered in the general electoral roll in a constituency would form an electoral college which would elect a panel of four candidates belonging to the depressed classes of the reserved seats by the method of the single vote. The four members getting the highest number of votes in such primary election would be candidates for each such reserved seats by the general electorate.
  • Did Poona pact divert all attention from the actual fight of civil disobedience movement, when it was on its climax? Yes.
    • We should blame both the McDonald Award and Poona Pact. McDonald award was devised create a dissension amongst the Hindus and it had the hidden objective of deviating the leadership from the CDM. British were successful in attaining both the objectives. Depressed classes secured double the number of seats reserved for them in the communal award and also enjoyed the benefits of a separate electorate thought in a modified form. Thus, the future of the depressed classes was deliberately linked to the policy of reservation. In this process, the larger issues fade into the background for the time being at least. The common man was confused with the compromise formula of Poona pact. They thought that the agreement on communal award is the end of the movement, and thus brought a halt in the pace of the movement.


Third Round Table Conference November 1932

  • Third Round Table Conference was held in London on November 17, 1932.
  • This was just a nominal conference, Congress refused to attend it (not invited, in fact) and in Britain, the Labor party also refused to not to attend it.
  • So, only 46 people reached out there.
  • Please note that it was this conference where a college student Chaudhary Rahmat Ali proposed the name of the new land specially carved out from India for the Muslims. The name of this “holy” land was – Pakistan.
  • Muslim leaders who attended the conference were Muhammad Ali, Agha Khan, Fazlul Haq, Jinnah.
  • The outcome of the Third Round Table conference was the ” White Paper” issued by the Government. On the basis of this paper, the Government of India Act 1935 was to be passed.



Background of Government of India Act 1935

  • The proposal of the Communal award and its aftermath led Gandhi to focus his attention on the Harijan Welfare. Harijan upliftment was now to become his main concern. He started an all India Anti-untouchability league in September 1932 and the weekly Harijan paper in January 1933. In 1933 he went out on a Congress Harijan Tour.
  • He worked towards the social upliftment of these sections- openings of wells, roads, and particularly temples plus humanitarian work. However, by this the Civil Disobedience gradually slipped in the background.
  • Officially, the Civil Disobedience movement was suspended in May 1933 and it was finally withdrawn in May 1934.
  • The Swarajya Party was reconstituted and in the annual session of the Congress in October 1934, the Congress rejected the “White Paper”. The Congress iterated that the only satisfactory alternative was a constitution drawn up by the Constituent Assembly which should be elected as far as possible on the basis of Adult Suffrage. But the Communal award was not rejected by Congress. It was criticized only.
  • A section of Congress led by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya broke away from the main body and started the “Congress Nationalist Party”. This party’s immediate job was to reject the communal award.
  • By the end of 1934, the elections were held to the Central legislative assembly. Congress and Congress Nationalist party together secured more than half of the number of elected seats. Muslim League did not contest the elections. Jinnah returned to the assembly as an Independent.
January 2, 2018

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