India from 1935-1947

Section X: India from 1936 – 1942

Arrival of Lord Linlithgow 1936-1944

  • Lord Linlithgow was Viceroy of India from 1936 to 1944. This was the longest reign as Viceroy of India.
  • During his reign, the following important events took place:
    • Government of India Act 1935
    • Elections in the Provinces 1937
    • Beginning of Second World War 1939
    • Arrival of Cripps Mission.1942
    • Quit India Movement begins 1942
    • Great Famine of Bengal 1943
    • He was the third last British Viceroy of India. The two following viceroys were Lord Wavell (1944-1947) and Lord Mountbatten (1947-48).


Government of India Act 1935

  • The Government of India Act 1935 introduced the provincial autonomy and provided for an all India federation. This act introduced dyarchy at the central level. This act had 321 sections and 10 schedules. It made a provision for establishment of a Federal court. The franchisee was extended. It divided the subjects in 3 lists. The Indian council was abolished and an advisory body was introduced. Burma was separated from India, and Aden was surrendered to British Colonial office.
  • The political conscious of the people of India was not considered. There was no provision of any fundamental right. It perpetuated the sovereignty of the British parliament over India.


All India Federation:

  • The government of India act 1935 provided for an all India federation.
  • In this all India federation the British India provinces, the chief commissioners of the provinces and those Indian states which might accede to be united were included.
  • The federation consisted of 11 provinces, 6 chief commissioners’ provinces and other states. The accession to the federation was voluntary.


Some notable Points:

  • This act ended the system of dyarchy introduced by the Government of India Act 1919 and provided for the establishment of a “Federation of India”, to be made up of both British India and some or all of the “princely states”
  • This act introduced for the first time the direct elections and increased the franchise from seven million to thirty-five million people.
  • The partial reorganization of the provinces included separation of Sind from Bombay, Splitting Bihar and Orissa into separate provinces, Complete separation of Burma from India, Detachment of Aden from India and establishing as a separate colony.
  • However, the degree of autonomy introduced at the provincial level was subject to important limitations:
    • the provincial Governors retained important reserve powers, and the British authorities also retained a right to suspend responsible government.
  • The act proposed that federation of India could come into existence only if as many princely states (which had been given option to join or not to join) were entitled to one half of the states seats in the upper house of the federal legislature. The parts of the Act intended to establish the Federation of India never came into operation, due to opposition from rulers of the princely states.
  • The remaining parts of the Act came into force in 1937, when the first elections under the Act were also held. The proposed federal polity was to have a bicameral legislature at the center.


Upper House:

  • The upper house was called Council of States and it consisted of 260 members. Out of these 260 members 156 were to represent the provinces and 104 to the native states. Out of the 156 which were to represent the provinces, 150 were to be elected on communal basis.
  • Seats reserved for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, were to be filled by direct elections and Seats reserved for Indian Christians, Anglo Indians and Europeans was to be filled by indirect method of a electoral college consisting of their representative members.


Lower House:

  • The lower house was to be called the federal assembly. It consisted of 375 members out of whom 250 were to represent the provinces and 125 to represent the princely states.
  • The term of the assembly was five years but it could be dissolved earlier also.


Federal Court:

  • A federal court was established which began its functioning from October 1, 1937. The chief Justice of the federal court was Sir Maurice Gwyer. It consisted of One Chief Justice and not more than 6 Judges.


Federal Railway Authority:

  • The Government of India Act 1935 vested the control of the railways in federal railway authority , a new 7 member body. This authority was kept free from the control of ministers and councilors. The idea was to assure the British Stakeholders of the railways that their investment was safe.
  • The Simon commission had promised ‘Dominion Status’ for India in 1929 , but the Government of India Act did not confer it.
  • This act by providing separate electorates for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Europeans, Anglo Indians, Indian Christians etc. proved to be an instrument of disintegrating the unity fabric of the country. It was over obstructing and Nehru called it “all breaks, no engine”.
  • So , in summary this act provided the following:
    • Establishment of an All India Federation of the Provinces in British India and Princely states.
    • Bicameral Federation Legislature
    • Representatives of the Princely states to be elected by their rulers.
    • Abolition of Dyarchy
    • 14% of the population was now having right to vote.
    • Appointment of Governor General and Governors by British.
    • Special Powers to Governors.
    • Principle of Separate Electorates.
    • Provincial autonomy.
    • Federal Court.
    • Creation of Sind and Orissa.
    • The federal part of this act was never introduced. However, the provincial part came into being on 1st April 1937.


Background: Separation of Burma

  • Please note that the Government of India Act 1935 contemplated the Federation of the British Indian Provinces and Indian States. But for Burma, there was a separate set of Events.
  • Burma was proposed to be separated in pursuance of the recommendation of the Indian Statutory (Simon Commission) whose proposal was accepted in principle by the Government.
  • Consequently a Burma Round Table Conference was held in London in 1932. In 1935, Burma Act was passed and separation of Burma actually took place in 1937.


Lord Dundas & Viscount Ennismore

  • In 1935, the Government of India Act 1935 provided a new Burma Office, in preparation for the establishment of Burma as a separate colony, but the same Secretary of State headed both Departments and was styled the Secretary of State for India and Burma. The first secretary of state for India and Burma was Lord Dundas.
  • The India Office of the Secretary of State for India and Burma came to an end in 1947, when we got independence and now the Secretary of state of India and Burma was left to be Secretary of Burma.
  • Viscount Ennismore was the first and last Secretary of Burma, as Burma got independence in 1948.


Political Reactions to the Government of India Act 1935

  • The Government of India act came into force on 4 August 1935. The provinces namely Madras, Bombay, Bengal, United Provinces, Punjab, Bihar, Central Provinces and Berar, Assam, North West Frontier Province, Orissa and Sind were now in a proposed federation.
  • The chief commissioner’s provinces namely Delhi, Ajmer-Mewar, Coorg, British Baluchistan, Andmana & Nicobar Islands, Panth Piploda were also to be in the Federation. In the case of the provinces, accession to the Federation would be automatic. But in case of the princely states this accession was to be voluntary. This means that the ruler of an Indian Princely state would acceded to the Federation by executing an “Instrument of Accession”, which would have to be accepted by Viceroy of India and this Federation would be brought by a Royal proclamation. But here was a big confusion. .. No such proclamation would be issued until the rulers of the States, representing not less than half of the aggregate population of the States, and also entitled to not less than half of the seats allotted to the states in the Federal Upper Chamber, had signified their desire to accede to a Federation, and both the houses of the Parliament had presented an address to His majesty that such proclamation be issued. Since, for the princely states, this was something similar to surrendering the remnants of the autocratic powers which was left with them. So, this was a nonstarter. No princely states were ready to join the proposed federation.
  • The first reaction was towards the way, the representation of the princely states was proposed. The delegates were not to be elected by the public but by the rulers. This was because, they (princely states) were the “natural” allies of the British Government of India. So, here Rajendra Prasad commented: It will be a kind of federation in which unabashed autocracy will sit entrenched in one third of India and peep in now and then to strangle the popular will in the remaining two thirds.
  • Second important reaction was against the proposed form of dyarchy. The Dyarchy had been total failure in the provinces, but now there was an experiment coming up at the centre.
  • The safeguards and the special powers vested in the Governor General was something like a “Charter of Slavery” as mentioned by Jawahar Lal Nehru. He compared it with a “machine with all brakes, no engine”.
  • Similarly Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya said: “the act is somewhat democratic in its appearance but completely hallow from inside”.
  • Jinnah commented it as “thoroughly rotten, fundamentally bad and totally unacceptable”. Jinnah’s point of view was based upon the feeling that it would substantially increase Hindu majority at the center. However Jinnah was ready to accept the provincial scheme, as it seemed that it would ensure Muslim control of the four Muslim majority provinces. The result of above hotch potch was that the proposed Federation of India was shelved.
  • Next was the provincial elections. The Elections to the provincial legislatures were held in the January and February 1937. This was a radical change in the politics of India.
  • Before we move ahead, please note the following important points:
    • The Population of British Indian Provinces under the 1931 Census was 256 million. 11.5% of the population was enfranchised.
    • The Section 93 of the Government of India Act 1935 provided that at any time of the Governor of the Province was satisfied that a situation had arisen in which the Government of the Province could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the act, he could by proclamation take upon himself, the administration of the province. This was the primitive model of President Rule of present in India as today and was provided by the Section 93 of the Government of India Act 1935.
    • The Chief Commissioners Provinces were directly governed by the Central Government. But Coorg was an exception. In Coorg, there was a legislative council.
    • If there was any dispute regarding the domains of powers between the Central Government and the Provincial Government, there was a Federal Court Established. This Federal Court consisted of One Chief Justice and 2 regular Judges.


Elections after Government of India Act 1935

Circumstances at the time of Election

  • As per the Congress, the act had more enemies than friends. In words of J L Nehru, it had all brakes not engine.
  • The Federal provisions had already been condemned by all the political parties including the Congress and the Muslim League.
  • The Only parties to declare themselves in favor of the working of the Act of 1935, both in the provinces and the Central were —National Liberal Federation and Hindu Mahasabha.
  • In due course of time, the urge to fight the elections grew among them Congressmen.
  • In 1936, When Congress met at Faizpur, the president of the session was Jawahar Lal Nehru. He said that “there was no choice but to contest the elections as it would educate the masses on the political policies and economic programmes of the party”. In the Faizpur session, there was a general opposition to the proposed federal portion, safeguards and Governor General’s overriding powers. So, the resolution of the congress was “not to submit to this constitution or to cooperate with it, but to combat it both inside and outside the legislatures so that it can be ended.” But the provincial portion of the act was accepted.
  • The Congress launched the Election campaign and in its manifesto the top thing was “A demand for the Constituent Assembly”.
  • In the same year 1936, Jinnah was elected president of the Muslim League. Thus the Muslim league which was up till now was in moribund state got a fresh lease of life. The Muslim league appointed a Central parliamentary board to direct the elections.


Elections and Results

  • The Congress swept the polls. It won absolute majority in 5 provinces Madras, United Provinces, Central provinces, Bihar & Orissa, Bombay. In Assam and North West Frontier Province it emerged at the largest political party and formed the governments. Later Assam and NWFP also came under Congress rule.
  • In Bengal, Punjab and Sind, Congress had no majority. In Punjab, the Muslim League with Unionist Party formed a coalition government. However, later a faction of Unionist Party in the premiership of Sikandar Hayat Khan mixed up with the Muslim league and remained so till 1947.
  • In Bengal, Muslim league formed a coalition government with Krishak Praja Party under Fazlul Haq. In Sindh, during 1937-1947, two leaders remained premiers viz. Ghulam Hussain Hidayutulla and Alla Bakhsh. They were non congress leaders. The Muslim league got 108 seats out of the total 485 Muslim Seats. Congress contested on 58 Muslim seats and won 26 seats out of them.
  • Congress remained in office for more than two years.
  • Under this tenure, Tenancy acts were passed in United Provinces and Bihar, to protect the tenants from the moneylenders. They took pro-labor stand but remained away from the class struggle.
  • In 1937, the Congress Government in Bombay appointed a Textile Inquiry Committee which recommended a wage increase for labor.
  • In November 1938, the Congress Government in Bombay introduced the “Industrial Disputes Act”. The act was based upon the principles of arbitrage and avoided the strikes and lock outs.
  • In these two years Congress did all that lifted its image from a political party to a party that can lead the masses of India not only in protests but also in Governance. The Ministers of Congress traveled in second and third class of railways and voluntarily reduced their salaries by Rs. 500 per month.


Rise of Separatism

  • In 1937, after the Provincial elections, the Congress had refused to make coalition Governments with the Muslim league. This gave the Muslim League leaders an opportunity to accuse the ministries of oppressing the Muslims.
  • Apart from that, Muslim League had the view that it alone had the right to contact with the Muslims and take care of them. When Congress started mass contacts in villages, the Muslim league did not approve it. A dream was shown to the middle and lower class Muslims of the country that if they remain in united country, they will always be unable to compete with the Kafirs who will not allow them to get the higher jobs and prospects. If a separate sovereign state is created, then it would be the middle and lower class Muslims that would get the most benefit. There was one more reason of a press for separate Muslim nation. It was the Wardha Scheme of Education, which led the Muslim league to champion for the cause of Pakistan.


Wardha Scheme of Education 1937

  • On July 31, 1937, Gandhi had published an article in the Harijan.
  • Based upon this article, an all India National Education Conference was held on October 22 and 23, 1937. The conference is called Wardha Educational Conference and the president of this conference was Gandhi himself.
  • The resolutions passed were as follows:
    • Free and compulsory education to be provided for 7 years at a nationwide scale.
    • Mother tongue should be the medium of instruction.
    • Through out this period of 7 years, the education should be around some forms of manual and productive work and for this purpose a handicraft must be chosen, based upon the environment of the child.
    • This system would generate the remuneration of the teachers.
  • Following this conference, a committee under Dr. Zakir Hussain was appointed to formulate the scheme of the basic education.
  • The aim of the basic education was to develop the qualities of the ideal citizenship and more aspect should be give to the Indian culture than the literacy. There should be NO PLACE for English in the curriculum.
  • There was no place for religious education in this scheme. The most important plus point was the economic goals of the basic education, which would develop by the manual handicraft of the children for a period of 7 years.
  • This was not accepted by Muslim League, for religious education was of utmost importance.


Rise of Congress Socialist Party : 1934 Onwards

  • Congress Socialist Party, or (CSP), was a left-wing group within the Congress. It was formed with Acharya Narendra Deva as President and Jay Prakash Narayan as General Secretary in 1934. The rise of this party was due to the increased left influence in the Indian National Congress.
  • By 1935, one third of the Congress members were Congress Socialists. These leaders rejected the idea of Gandhi (which they saw as anti-rational). Though, they remained active in the workers and peasants movement, they rejected the sectarian attitude of the Communist Party of India. They were influenced by Marxism-Leninism. The members ranged from the advocates of arms struggle to nonviolent resistance.
  • The ideal of this party was decentralized socialism in which a substantial share in the economic power of co-operatives, trade unions, independent farmers, and local authorities.
  • Some important points:
    • J P Narayan was lodged in the Nasik Jail in 1932 for civil disobedience against British rule. Here he met with Ram Manohar Lohia, Minoo Masani, Achyut Patwardhan, Ashok Mehta, Yusuf Desai and other national leaders.
    • After his release in 1934, JP Narayan convened a meeting in Patna which founded the Bihar Congress Socialist Party with Narayan as general secretary and Acharya Narendra Deva as president.
    • On October 23-23, 1934, another conference was held in Bombay where they formed an all India level “Congress Socialist Party” with Narayan as general secretary and Masani as joint secretary and Acharya Narendra Deva as president. The greeting “Comrade” was used in the new party.
    • Masani mobilized the party in Bombay, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya and Puroshottam Trikamdas organized the party in other parts of Maharashtra. The CSP was not separate from the Congress. Its constitution defined that the members were all required to be members of the Indian National Congress. Members of communal organizations or political organizations, whose goals were incompatible with the ones of CSP, were barred from CSP membership.
    • Many communists joined the CSP, it adopted Marxism in 1936.
    • They had a conference on the sidelines of the Faizpur Conference and then propounded a doctrine that was aimed to transform the Indian National Congress into an anti-imperialist front. Thus, emergence of the CSP had a long lasting impact on the politics of the Congress for many years to come.


Early Career of Subhash Chandra Bose

  • Netaji was born on 23 January 1897 at Cuttack. His father Jankinath Bose was an advocate and his mother’s name was Prabhavati Devi. He finished his schooling from Cuttack and graduated from the Scottish Church College of the University of Calcutta in 1918.
  • Later, he went to University of Cambridge for higher studies and passed the Indian Civil Services Examination with high marks. He resigned from Civil services in 1920 and remarked “The best way to end a Government is to withdraw from it”.
  • After he returned to India, he started writing for Swaraj and then worked towards the publicity of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. Chitaranjan Das was his mentor.
  • In early 1920s he mobilized the All-Bengal Young Men’s Conference. His ideology was very much influenced with Swami Vivekananda and Arubindo Ghosh.
  • In 1925, he was arrested and sent to Burma (Mandalay Jail) where he is said to have contracted the Tuberculosis. He was released in 1927 and then was appointed the General Secretary of the Congress. He worked closely with Jawahar Lal Nehru.
  • In participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement and then was again sent to Jail.
  • In Jail itself, he was elected as Mayor of Calcutta. He was then released and in 1930, he was again arrested for organizing demonstrations.
  • Most of the early 1930s he spent in Europe, travelled Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Ireland and other countries of the Eastern Europe and got influenced by the preparations of the Axial Powers. He met Mussolini during these visits.
  • In 1938, he returned from Europe. His philosophy was entirely different from that of Gandhi and Nehru, which reflects in the saying “If somebody slaps you once, slap him twice”.


Subahsh Chandra Bose and Congress Haripura Session 1938

  • By 1938, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose had emerged as candid spokespersons of the Congress.
  • By the same time, Congress had divided among two groups based upon the ideology. One was the conservative group and another was radical. During this period, Gandhi remained almost retired from the active politics and took the job of upliftment of the Harijans.
  • Babu Subash Chandra Bose was very critical to the ideology of compromise of Gandhi. In the midst of the violence and non-violence, in the midst of new developments of the socialist ideology, in the midst of the subdued resentment against the Congress ministries which had become slow in their progress towards independence and in the midst of the conflict of ideologies, Congress met at Vitthal Nagar Haripur from 19th 21st February 1938.
  • President of this Congress was Subhash Chandra Bose. He outlined his policy as follows: ” My term of office as the Congress President will be devoted to resist the unwanted federal scheme will all the peaceful and legitimate powers, including non violence and non cooperation if necessary and to strengthen the country’s determination to resist this scheme”. Bose had the idea of developing the power of resistance among the people of India as to make the British Government abandon the idea of forcing the federal scheme down the throats of Indians.
  • But it was this 1938 Haripura session when the differences between Gandhi and Bose surfaced over their attitudes towards the Great Britain. Subhash Chandra Bose was against the plan of the British to drag India into the Second World War. He was aware of the political instability of Britain and wanted to take advantage of it, rather than wait for the British to grant independence. Which is evident from his statement : Britain’s Peril is India’s Opportunity.
  • In this session, under Bose, a resolution was passed. As per Haripura resolution, Britain was given 6 months ultimatum to the British, failing to which there will be a revolt. But this was something Gandhi could not digest.
  • Subhash did not endorse the nonviolence and Satyagraha tactics of Gandhi to throw the British away. The result was that there was a great divide between Gandhi and Bose.
  • Similarly, Nehru also fell apart from Bose.
  • This variance grew further when Subhash Chandra Bose organized National Planning Committee. National Planning Committee was the Forerunner of India’s Planning Commission. The idea was to draw a comprehensive plan for economic development of India on the basis of Industrialization. It was against the Charkha policy of Gandhi.
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Subhash Chandra Bose and Congress Tripuri Session 1939

  • The British Government was keen on Bose taking interest in the Axis Powers and the developing Gandhi Bose strife. In December 1938, Bose had a meeting with two representatives of the German Nazi Party. Here, Bose told the Nazis that the Hitler regime must stop insulting the Indians. In India, Nazis were not liked because of their deeds of extinguishing the democracy, eliminating the socialist ideas.
  • For the 1939 elections of the President of Congress, Subhash announced his candidature knowing that he would be opposed.
  • By this time, Nehru was on a long holiday in Europe. When he returned in 1938, Gandhi suggested him to announce his name as a candidate. But he declined and suggested the name of Maulana Azad. But Maulana Azad withdrew his name and then new name came up was of Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, an Andhra leader. But Subhash was not sure of his win. The result was declared on January 29, 1939 and Subhash secured 1580 Votes. Sitaramaya got 1377 votes, thus Subhash winning by a narrow but clear margin. But the defeat of Sitaramayya was taken by Gandhi as a personal blow. He said ” … I am glad of his (Subhash’s) victory….and since I was instrumental in inducing Dr. Pattabhi not to withdraw his name after Maulana Azad Sahib done so, the defeat is more mine than his….”. Gandhi said that Bose was president in his own right. He should form his own working committee and run the congress. Gandhi said that “…after all Subhash Babu is not the enemy of our country…he has suffered for it”. In His opinion, his is the most forward and boldest policy and programme….the minority can only wish him all the best”.. We see, that Gandhi in a characteristic way had declared a “personal” war against Bose. Actually, Gandhi meticulously started planning to destroy Subhash, who was now the most serious challenge to his ideology and superiority. Gandhi, whom we today cherish as Father of the Nation, planned his moves against Subhash with utmost care.
  • The constitution of Congress did not provide for the removal of the President and the delegates vote was something which could not be reversed. The Congress Working committee was still controlled by the followers of Gandhi. Thus , Subhash might reign but could not rule. In March 1939, Congress met at annual session at Tripuri near Jabalpur. Prior to this session, Bose fell ill (which may be a psychological reaction to the stress) just before February 20-21, when a meeting of Congress Working Committee was held in Wardha. Subhash was unable to reach and so sent a telegram to Patel to postpone the meeting of working committee till the annual session. He had also sent a telegram to Gandhi to nominate the working committee as his wish, but strangely Gandhi DID NOT SUGGEST any name. But this telegram hurt the congressmen. They said that this demonstrates Subhash’s dictatorial ambition, who does not want the congress to do the normal business in his absence. The result was that Patel and other 11 members resigned from the Working Committee. Earlier, Bose had described the followers of Gandhi as of low intellectual level. The members of Congress wanted Subhash to apologize for the slur. He refused. In this session, when Subhash was brought to the dais on stretcher, one of the congressmen fanned “Why don’t you check whether he has any onions under his armpits” (Onions when kept under armpits raise the temperature of the body). Such was the disastrous division between Subhash and Gandhi & his followers. Next Month, Subhash resigned from Congress and now he was on an entirely different path. The place was filled by Dr. Rajendra Prasad.


Subhash Chandra Bose and Establishment of Forward Bloc 1939

  • In April 1939, Subhash left Congress and on 3 May 1939, he established the “Forward Bloc” of the Indian National Congress.
  • This formation was announced in a Public Rally at Calcutta. Here, he said that those who are joining would never return to the British and must fill the pledge form by cutting their finger and signing it with their blood. Bose became the president of the Forward Bloc and S.S. Cavesheer its vice-president.
  • In June 1939, a Forward Bloc Conference was held in Bombay. In July 1939, he announced the Committee of the Forward Bloc. In August same year, he started publishing a newspaper titled Forward Bloc. He travelled around the country and now was the most cherished after hero of the nation.


Begin of Second World War 1939 & Subhash Chandra Bose’s Escape

  • The Second World War broke out on September 3, 1939 and on the same day Lord Linlithgow declared India as belligerent and at war with “Germany”.
  • Bose advocated a campaign of mass civil disobedience to protest against Viceroy Lord Linlithgow’s decision to declare war on India’s behalf without consulting the Congress leadership. He approached Gandhi to persuade on this matter , but was not successful. Gandhi had different ideas.
  • He organized protests in Calcutta and called for removal of the ‘Holwell Monument’, which commemorated the Black Hole of Calcutta. In 1940, he was arrested and was put behind the bars. In Jail, he sat on a hunger strike. When his condition deteriorated, he was released by the British and was taken under surveillance to his home in Calcutta. He left the house in disguise and reached Peshawar by Train. From there he crossed India’s border and reached Kabul. From Kabul, he went to Moscow and From Moscow he reached Germany to take Hitler’s help. In Berlin, he established Free India centre and raised a unit of Indian prisoners of War in Germany. Later he came to know about Japan’s phenomenal success in the war. So to take advantage, he moved on to Japan. However, things did not come up as expected and thus India lost a True Hero in disarray. (Discussed later)


Second World War 1939 & Congress

  • Soon after the war broke out, an array of emergency legislations was passed in India and Britain. The autonomy of the Provincial Governments was curbed and civil liberties of the people were restricted.
  • Congress was of the idea to support the British on the condition that India should be declared an independent nation immediately after the war and a responsible government must be placed at the centre.
  • Gandhi, opposed to Subhash, did not wanted independence from the ruins of England, because that was not the way of non violence.
  • On September 8, 1939, there was a meeting of the Congress Working Committee. In it, it was suggested that the issue of the war and peace with India must be decided by the Indian People. But on this resolution, Government did not do anything. So the Congress High Command declared that Congress Ministries in the provinces should resign. This irked the British Government.
  • The Muslim league had openly supported the British in the war policies and thus they were encouraged hereafter.


Jinnah’s Two Nations Theory March 1940

  • In November 193, a Pirpur Committe which was submitted by the Muslim league had presented its report in which it charged the congress for interference with the religious rites, suppression of Urdu and propaganda of Hindi, denial of legitimate representation and suppression in economy of the Muslims.
  • Pirpur Committee was established in November 1930 by the All India Muslim League to prepare a detailed report regarding the atrocities of the Congress Ministries (1937-1939) formed after the elections under the 1935 Government of India Act in different provinces.
  • Its report charged the congress for interference with the religious rites, suppression of Urdu and propaganda of Hindi, denial of legitimate representation and suppression in economy of the Muslims.
  • The national poet of Pakistan, Allama Muhammad Iqbal had initially suggested the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. But in his work Tarana-e-Hind, he stated the belief of a strong united India.
  • In the Third round table conference, a Cambridge student Chaudhary Rehmat Ali coined the term Pakistan. On 28 January 1933, he published a pamphlet “Now or Never” which is called “Pakistan Declaration”. This declaration said: ” At this solemn hour in the history of India, when British and Indian statesmen are laying the foundations of a Federal Constitution for that land, we address this appeal to you, in the name of our common heritage, on behalf of our thirty million Muslim brethren who live in PAKSTAN – by which we mean the five Northern units of India, Viz: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind and Baluchistan. ” This pamphlet appealed the Government that the five northern Units of India come up as a state independent of the proposed Indian Federation. But, this was not a movement until Jinnah took it up.
  • For Jinnah, the Congress was “Gandhi Hindu Congress”. On March 20, 1940, the Muslim League met at Lahore.
  • Here Fazlul Haq, the Premier of Bengal, who along with Muslim League had formed the Government Bengal Province, moved a resolution, which was passed by Muslim League. The resolution said: the areas in which Muslims are numerically in majority, as in north-western and eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute the Independent States in which the Constituent units would be autonomous and sovereign”.
  • In this session Jinnah in his Presidential address gave the famous two nation theory as follows: “India cannot be assumed today to be Unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary, there are two nations in the main- the Hindus and the Muslims”. But the term Pakistan was not used in this session. This resolution was ambiguous and only a primitive idea which took firm shape only in 1946.
  • Gandhi rejected the two-nation theory and said: ” My whole soul rebels against the idea that Hinduism and Islam represent two antagonistic cultures and doctrines. To assent to such a doctrine for me is denial of God”.


August Offer 1940

  • When the Congress ministries in the Provinces resigned, the British arose and wanted to get support of the Congress for war.
  • In March 1940, Congress met at Ramgarh in Bihar in its annual session.
  • He Congress passed a resolution offering the British Government support in war, if a provisional National Government is setup at Centre. This was responded by Lord Linlithgow in the sort of a proposal which is called August Offer.
  • The august Offer turned down the demand of the Congress to set up a national Government at the center but proposed the following:
    • After the war, a representative “Constitution Making Body” shall be appointed immediately after the war.
    • The number of the Indians in the Viceroy’s Executive council will be increased.
    • A war advisory Council would be set up.
  • The Congress did not approve the August Offer. Jawahar Lal Nehru said that the whole idea was “dead and doornail”. The Muslim League said that it will not be satisfied with anything short of partition of India.


Individual Satyagraha 1940-41

  • The Congress was in a confused state again after the August Offer. The radicals and leftists wanted to launch a mass Civil Disobedience Movement, but here Gandhi insisted on Individual Satyagraha.
  • The Individual Satyagraha was not to seek independence but to affirm the right of speech.
  • The other reason of this Satyagraha was that a mass movement may turn violent and he would not like to see the Great Britain embarrassed by such a situation. This view was conveyed to Lord Linlithgow by Gandhi when he met him on September 27, 1940.
  • The non-violence was set as the centerpiece of Individual Satyagraha. This was done by carefully selecting the Satyagrahis. The first Satyagrahi selected was Acharya Vinoba Bhave, who was sent to Jail when he spoke against the war. Second Satyagrahi was Jawahar Lal Nehru. Third was Brahma Datt, one of the inmates of the Gandhi’s Ashram. They all were sent to jails for violating the Defense of India Act. This was followed by a lot of other people.
  • But since it was not a mass movement, it attracted little enthusiasm and in December 1940, Gandhi suspended the movement. The campaign started again in January 1941, this time, thousands of people joined and around 20 thousand people were arrested.


Cripps Proposals 1942

  • 1942 saw the advancement of British forces in India. Apart from that there was a pressure from the American President F. Roosevelt and Chinese premier Chiang Kai-Shek to concede the real political power to the people of India.
  • The fall of Burma was enough to frighten the British and when the Japanese army began to knock the doors of India after Burma and Singapore, the war cabinet of Britain sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India on March 1942 to elicit cooperation from the Indians.
  • It promised for the fulfillment of past promises to self government to Indian people.
  • The proposal of the Cripps mission was that: “India would be a dominion associated with the United kingdom”. It promised that immediately after the war is stopped, steps would be taken up to set up an elected body charged with the task of making the constitution for India and provisions would be made so that the Indian states could participate in the framing of the constitution.
  • Through the Cripps mission for the first time, British government recognized the “Right of Dominion’ for India.
  • Indians were given promise of liberty to frame their own constitution. The Cripps mission which was a move to appease the Congress, Muslim League and Indian states at the same time was rejected by all of them.
  • Gandhi wanted an undivided India, Muslim league wanted a separate Pakistan , Congress demanded a full control over defense “stating that a slave country cannot have any inspiration” .
  • Muslim league said there was inadequate representation of Muslims.
  • Sikhs rejected because of non accession of provinces.
  • Hindu Mahasabha rejected because the “Pakistan Virus” was alive.
  • The Dalits and depressed classed also rejected because there was nothing new for them.


Section Y: The Quit India Movement and onwards  

Quit India Movement

  • In July 1942, the Congress Working Committee met at Wardha.
  • Here a long resolution was passed that demanded that the “British Rule in India must end immediately”. This resolution was an outcome of the change in attitude of Congress and Gandhi himself towards British.
  • The attitude changed because in the Second World War the Japanese were triumphing and they had already overrun Singapore and Malaya. They were nearly reaching Burma and India. So it was thought that “Presence of British in India was an invitation to Japan to invade”.
  • The Wardha Resolution is also known as “Quit India Resolution”. This resolution was ratified in the All India Congress Committee at Bombay on August 7, 1942.
  • Here a nonviolent mass struggle under the leadership of Gandhi was sanctioned in the “August Kranti Maidan”. In case Gandhi and the Congress leadership is arrested, the document said: “Every Indian who desires freedom and strives for it must be his own guide urging him or her on a long hard road where there is no resting place and which leads ultimately to the independence of India” After that , Gandhi made the following statement in his speech: ” Every one of you should from this moment onwards consider yourself freeman or woman and act as if you were free……I am not going to be satisfied wish anything short of freedom. You should do or die. We shall either free India or die in the attempt”. This movement attracted the common people of India. After the above sanction, the AICC meeting ended on the midnight of 8 August 1942. The same night police arrested Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Aazad and all other leaders. Within a week, almost all the leaders of Congress were in jails.
  • From August 9 to August 13, there was widespread disturbance in Bombay, Ahamadabad, Poona, and Delhi. However, after that the movement started deteriorating. It was followed by widespread hartals, strikes and other outbreaks. All of them are commonly called the “Great August Uprising”.


Was the Great August Uprising inevitable? Yes.

  • We have seen in the above discussion that the immediate cause of QIM was the failure of Cripps mission. It was realized that any further silence would be tantamount to accept the right of the British government to decide India’s fate without any reference to the wishes of her people. That was also a time of a rising inflation and the acute shortage of food stuffs. The World War created problems for the common people and as soon as the news of allied reverses and British withdrawals from south-east Asia and Burma came, the people started looking for opportunity to express their discontent. By the end of the year, the movement had been suppressed due to ruthless use of force. For next two and half years, there was no large political movement.


Was the Quit India Movement a natural corollary of the prolonged struggle for the independence? Partially Yes.

  • In fact, Quit India Movement was a natural corollary of the failure of the Cripps Mission. Various reasons given for the outbreak of the Quit India Movement are as follows:
    • Gandhi’s was desperate and wanted to call for “do-or-die” after the failure of the individual Satyagrnha.
    • Failure & Rejection of the Cripps Proposals
    • There was a general demoralization of the Congress leaders.
    • There was a growing demand for separate land among the Muslim League.
    • There was a presence of large number of troops in India.
    • There was also a feeling that Indians would do the same with British as the people in Singapur, Malaya and Burma did.


Did Quit India Movement prove to be a metaphor?

  • India movement represented a metaphor because it was Not a Non-violent Movement Not led by Gandhi Not Planned Basically, Gandhi did not formulate any definite programme of action before he was arrested on 9th August.
  • The violent acts in the 1942 movement were not of its original character, and the QIM movement in 1942 shortly merged itself into the revolutionary or terrorist movement. One of the powerful sections of congress led by Jaya Prakash Narayan openly repudiated the policy of Gandhi.
  • There were sporadic events of violence in all parts of India and the leaders preached the cult of violence and mass revolution. The revolutionary movement and the non-violent satyagraha launched by Gandhi, both came to an end, almost simultaneously, without achieving freedom.
  • The movement was not spontaneous because it ultimately represented it was a byproduct of a combination of trends underlying at varying degrees to produce independence, at that time.
  • Further, the communists had opposed this movement and it virtually damaged the labour movement also. Labour Unions under Communist influence had apparently decided against participation in the movement, there were large-scale strikes in mills at Kanpur, Jamshedpur and Ahmadabad. There was an indifference of the Labour Class


Subhash Chandra Bose: In Germany

  • In 1941, When Netaji left India in disguise and reached Germany, he was welcomed by Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945, and right hand of Adolf Hitler.
  • In Berlin, Subhash established Free India centre and raised a unit of Indian prisoners of War in Germany.
  • He frequently used the Berlin Radio and broadcasted is cause for India. It was called Azad Hind Radio. The headquarters of Azad Hind Radio was later shifted to Singapore and later Rangoon.
  • On this Radio, Netaji referred the British Broadcasting Corporation as the Bluff and Bluster Corporation and the All India Radio as the Anti Indian Radio. He used the greeting “Jai Hind” and the public greeted him in return with the same. However, in East, the outbreak of war was giving a new dimension to the efforts of Subhash to throw out the British.


Tokyo Conference: March, 1942

  • By this time, Ras Bihari Bose had established himself in East and in March 1942, he convened a conference in Tokyo.
  • The outcome of this conference was the new face of “Indian Independence League”, the organization which was originally founded in 1928, by Rash Bihari Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru. The decision was taken to form the Indian National Army for the liberation of India. A Council of action was created and Ras Bihari Bose became its president. Mohan Singh was the commander in chief of the proposed Indian National Army. However, Mohan Singh was later arrested.
  • But the Indians had difference with Ras Bihari’s idea of Indian liberation with the Japanese help and were actually worried about the vested Japanese interests.
  • The result was that nothing substantial came out and the conference agreed to meet again in Bangkok at some future date. In April 1942, Ras Bihari and the Indian delegation returned to Singapore.


All Malayan Indian Independence League: 1942, Singapore

  • In Singapore, Ras Bihari Bose arranged a conference to make All Malayan Indian Independence League.
  • The president of this league was League was Nedyam Raghavan, a Penang Barrister and a prominent Malayan Indian.
  • Again this league made a number of proposals including the creation of a Council of Action. The league got overwhelming support and by August 1942 one Lakh people became its members. The league took up the issue of the local Indian population which was mainly engaged in plantations.


Bangkok Conference: June 1942

  • As decided in the Tokyo conference, the Bangkok conference was held and here the Indian Independence League was again constituted.
  • Rash Bihari Bose was to chair the council, while K.P.K Menon, Nedyam Raghavan were among the civilian members of the council. Mohan Singh was to be the INA’s members.
  • A 34 point resolution was passed by which the Indian National Army was made subordinate to the Indian Independence League. The resolution expected the Japanese government to respond to each point. This resolution said that the Japanese Government should clearly, explicitly and publicly recognize India as an independent nation.
  • It also demanded that the Japanese Government should recognize the league as the nation’s representatives and guardians. The resolution demanded assurances from the Japanese Government on Free India’s relation with Japan, respect for her sovereignty and her territorial integrity. The resolution further demanded that the Indian National Army should be accorded the status of an allied army and be treated as such, and that all Indian Prisoners of Wars be released to the INA.


Arrival of Bose in Japan 1943

  • Prior to this conference, an invitation was sent to Subhash Chandra Bose to come to East Asia. After a three-month journey by submarine, and a short stop in Singapore, he reached Tokyo on 11 May 1943, and here, he could get the promise of authorities of Japan to extend all the help to him to expel the British from India and enable India to achieve independence.
  • The Indian National Army was initially formed under Capt Mohan Singh Deb with Japanese aid and support after the Fall of Singapore and consisted of approximately 20,000 Indian prisoners of war who were captured either during the Malayan campaign or surrendered at Singapore.
  • Mohan Singh Deb had differences with Japanese authorities. The Japanese too were frustrated with him. On 29 December 1942, General Mohan Singh Deb was removed from his command and taken into custody by the Japanese military police.
  • Later, after the war, he was given to the British authorities, which repatriated him to India to face the INA trails. He was not given any punishment as such and later he became a Rajya Sabha MP when India was ruled by the Congress Government!
  • On 15 February 1943, the Army was put under the command of Lt. Col. M.Z. Kiani. He revived the former ranks and badges.
  • In July 1943 Subhash went to Singapore and here, he was given the premiership of the Indian Independence League.
  • When in 1943, Subhash took over the command of the Indian National Army, it was almost zenith of his career. At this juncture of time, an Officers’ Training School for INA officers was opened under Habib ur Rahman.
  • Azad School for the civilian volunteers were set up to provide training to the recruits.
  • For the first time in Asia a women’s regiment, the Rani of Jhansi regiment was raised as a combat force, under Captain Laxmi Swaminathan.


Provisional Government of Free India, Singapore, October 1943

  • On 21st October 1943, Subhash set up the Provisional Government of Free India in Singapore.
  • The INA took half a year for its preparation to march to India. In March 1944, the INA commenced its military campaign with the battle cry of Subhash “Dilli Chalo” against Burma and the columns of the army reached Kohima and laid siege of Imphal.
  • The provisional Government of India was recognized by Japan, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Burma, Thailand, Nationalist China, Philippines etc.
  • This provisional Government was given Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the Japanese which had occupied them earlier.
  • The two islands were renamed by Subhash as Shaheed (Martyr) & Swaraj (Self-rule).
  • Here on December 30, 1943 Subhash Chandra Bose first raised the flag of Indian independence.
  • From March to July 1944, the Japanese armies along with INA attempted to destroy the Allied forces at Imphal and invade India. This was known as Battle of Imphal. Here, the Japanese forces were driven back into Burma with heavy losses. INA also lost lots of men and material. There was another Battle of Kohima going on simultaneously in which the INA and Japanese forces unsuccessfully encircled Allied forces. But the fate changed soon after. Japan suffered the biggest defeat in this part of the world. In May 1945, Rangoon was recaptured by British.
  • On August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945, two atom bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in the next month, Japan surrendered.
  • At the time of surrender of Japan, in September 1945, Bose left for Manchuria to attempt to contact the advancing Soviet troops. But here, he was toppled by the forces of history.


End of INA and INA Trials (Red Fort Trials) 1946

  • Ras Bihari Bose had died in January 1945 in Tokyo.
  • Subhash Chandra Bose was also presumed to have died. Before the war ended, the INA soldiers started falling into the hands of the allies. These were taken as Prisoners of Wars and the Court martial began as early as 1943. INA had around 43000 recruits out of which many perished, many fled and mixed with the civilians, but 16000 were captured. They were stuffed into the ships and sent to India via Rangoon.
  • Various detention camps had been organized in Jhingergacha and Nilganj near Calcutta, Kirkee near Pune, Attock, Multan and at Bahadurgarh near Delhi.
  • The officers of the INA were taken to court martial at the Red Fort of Delhi from November 1945 and May 1946. Around ten courts-martial were held.
  • The first of these was the joint court-martial of Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan, who had been taken Prisoners of Wars in Singapore. They were charged of “Waging War against the King Emperor” as well as Murder and abetment of Murder.
  • The Indian National Congress and the Muslim League both made the release of the three defendants, one Hindu, One Muslim and One Sikh! They were sentenced to death, but under pressure from the political parties from India, Army Chief Claude Auchinleck was forced to commute the sentences of the three defendants in the first trial.


Arrival of Lord Wavell 1943-47

  • When Linlinthgow retired as viceroy in the summer of 1943 he was succeeded by Lord Wavell, who remained 23rd Viceroy of India from 1 October 1943 to 21 February 1947.
  • The most important events during his tenure were as follows:
    • Great Famine of Bengal 1943
    • Shimla Conference 1945
    • Cabinet mission 1946
    • Direct Action Day.
  • This period was disastrous for the population of India.
  1. Rajagopalachari Formula of 1944
  • Objective of the C R Formula was to solve the political deadlock between the All India Muslim League and Indian National Congress.
  • League’s position was that the Muslims and Hindus of British India were of two separate nations and hence the Muslims had the right to their own nation. The Congress was opposed to the idea of partitioning India.
  • The Core principle of the CR Formula was a proposal for the Congress to offer the League the Muslim Pakistan based on plebiscite of all the peoples in the regions where Muslims made a majority.
  • The main features were:
    • The Muslim league was to endorse the demand for independence for the traditional period, i.e. Muslim league would support the congress’s demand for complete freedom and then majority provinces would go to plebiscite especially north eastern provinces.
    • At the end of war a commission would demarcate those contiguous areas in NWFP and NEI where Muslims were in majority. In the event of separation, agreements would be and other essential purpose.
    • The terms would be binding only in case of transfer by Britain of full power and responsibility for full governance of India. The Muslim league endorsing the congress demand for full independence and cooperating with it in forming an interim government in the transition period.
    • C Rajgopalachari served as Governor of West Bengal from 1947 to 1948, Governor-General of India from 1948 to 1950, as Union Home Minister from 1951 to 1952 (invited after Patel’s death) and the Chief Minister of Madras state from 1952 to 1954. He resigned from the Indian National Congress and with NG Ranga, founded the Swatantra Party, which fought against the Congress in the in 1960s and early 70s. He has written the song Kurai Onrum Illai, which is sung in the Carnatic Music.


Gandhi-Jinnah talks of 1944

  • The allies in the war seemed to be victorious and attitude of British administration towards Congress softened with this. At the same time, America was pressing on meeting India’s demand for self-governance though being an ally of Britain in the war.
  • When Gandhi was released on 5 May 1944, he proposed talks with Jinnah on his two-nation theory and negotiating on issue of partition. The CR formula acted as the basis for the negotiations.
  • Gandhi and Jinnah met in September 1944 to ease the deadlock. Gandhi placed the CR formula as his proposal to Jinnah.
  • Negotiations continued for two years and ultimately failed.
  • Jinnah rejected CR Formula arguing that separation could not be deferred till after independence, considered common services to be unnecessary, and felt that plebiscites with both Muslims and Hindus voting contradicted the basic principle of Muslims being a distinct nation with an inherent right of self-determination.
  • Gandhi did not accept the view that the Indian Muslims constitute a separate nation, he regarded India as one family consisting of many members, and the Muslims were one of them.
  • Gandhi proposed that only the Muslims living in Baluchistan, Sindh , N.W.F.P and parts of the Punjab, Bengal and Assam, who desired to lives in separation from the rest of India, should form the new state.
  • But on this, Jinnah insisted that Pakistan should include all the six provinces resolution of the Muslim league in 1940. He did not a mutilated, moth eaten Pakistan same like Allama Mashriqi cried for.
  • Moth Eaten Pakistan & Allama Mashriq’s Point
    • Khaksar Movement was established by Allama Mashriqi in 1931.
    • Please note that other name of Allama Mashriqi was Inayatullah Khan and he was a mathematical intellectual.
    • He is known for publishing a pamphlet in which he claimed that Muslims only had the right of being the guardians of Hindustan and no other could claim to govern Hindustan. The organization was declared unlawful in 1940 and Khaksars including Allama Mashriqi were stuffed in Jails.
    • Jinnah had appealed them to support the Muslim league’s cause but Khaksar’s relation with league was not so friendly. He wanted a Pakistan undivided , stretching from Karachi to Calcutta and did not accept a “Moth eaten Pakistan” as per the Mountbatten Plan.
  • Gandhi held that the separate Muslims state should be formed after India was free, on this Jinnah urged for an immediate and complete settlement.
  • Gandhi suggested that there should be a treaty of separation to provide for foreign affairs, defense, communication, customs commerce and the like, as matters of all these matters, which were the life-blood of common central authority or government. But none of them were acceptable to Jinnah.
  • We see that Gandhi- Jinnah talks did not bring the two communities nearer each other. The clever Viceroy was now convinced that these Indians would keep quarrelling and Indian problem cannot be settled by an agreement between the Hindus and Muslims. So now the British government must take the initiative for the post-war settlement promised by them.


Wavell Plan, June 1945

  • The war had ended, though Japan was yet to surrender. The heroic deeds of INA were about to end.
  • More than 3 million people had lost lives in the Famine of Bengal, which was largely manmade as the Government stopped the supplies from Burma due to the fear of the Japanese invasion.
  • Burma was the largest exporter of rice and the scarcity of the supplies coupled with the low rains and droughts in several parts of India from as early as 1942, when 10 princely states of Rajputana had declared themselves famine affected as per the famine code and wanted to get relief.
  • People in Orissa and Bengal died and the government could take steps to save a few only. The Muslim league had escalated the demand for a separate sovereign state. There was a deadlock with the congress since 1939 resignations.
  • On June 14, 1945, Lord Wavell came out with a plan which had the following schemes:
    • A new Executive Council was to be formed at the Centre in which all but the Viceroy and the Commander in Chief will be Indians. This executive council was for the time being till a new permanent constitution could be agreed upon and come to force.
    • All portfolios except the Defense would be held by the Indian Members.
    • Breakdown Plan Wavell Plan is also known as Breakdown Plan and was not accepted by the British, for whom, leaving without a universally agreed agreement was dishonorable.
    • It also said that in case of a disagreement, the British should withdraw to the 6 Pakistan Provinces, and leaving the Congress to deal with rest of India.


Shimla Conference, June 1945

  • To discuss the provisions of the Wavell Plan a conference of 21 Indian Political leaders was invited to the Summer Capital of British Government Shimla.
  • The leaders included Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was the President of the Congress at that time.
  • Mohammad Ali Jinnah also reached in the conference. But here, Jinnah made a strange claim. He said that no non-league Muslim should be represented to the Executive Council because only Muslim League has right to represent the Muslims of India.
  • So, it was said that Congress had no right to nominate any Muslim in the Executive council.
  • Jinnah also demanded that in case of the division of votes and objection by the Muslim members, there should be a provision that vote is cleared only by 2/3rd of majority.
  • Wavell had given place to 6 Muslims in the Executive Council of 14, and British had given it the power of Veto to any constitutional proposal which was not in its interest. But Muslims represented only 25% of Indian Population. Thus, these unreasonable demands were rejected by Congress.
  • The Muslim league did not relent and Wavell dropped the plan. However, now it was almost clear to Congress that Muslim League can make or mar the fortune of Muslims of India. It was seen as strongest at this point of time, than ever before.


Was the failure inevitable at Shimla? Yes.

  • The three parties’ viz. Congress, Muslim League and Viceroy had to decide the fate of the conference the congress.
  • For Congress, India was a single nation but for Muslim League, the Muslims were not only a minority but a nation in them. The viceroy’s decision was to be based upon this disagreement as the larger is the disagreement; larger may be the extension of the British rule.
  • It was Lord Wavell that formally handed over the power to veto-final authority in any constitutional progress in India to Jinnah. So, this was the reason that Jinnah became sole representative of Muslims. Now Jinnah was Muslim League’s answer to Gandhi of Congress.
  • But at the same time, Wavell also reversed the proposals of Cripps mission which had recognized INC as the only platform which could discuss with the government. Thus Wavell created two platforms at Shimla.
  • Raise the level of Jinnah to that to the level of Gandhi
  • Make the Muslim league sole dispenser to the Muslim fate in India.
  • The result was that Muslim League emerged as a great gainer and they were now closer to a separate nation of their own.


General Election, December 1945

  • Before the WWII ended on August 15, 1945, there was a general election in Britain.
  • The election ended with the defeat of Conservative Party of Winston Churchill and now the new Government of Labour Party came into power with Clement Atlee as Prime Minister.
  • The new Secretary of State for India was Sir Pethick Lawrence.
  • The first major step by this new government was to announce a General Election in India. The last general elections were held in 1936 and now almost a decade later, the whole world had changed. The results of the elections were announced in December 1945.
  • In these elections Congress secured over 91% votes and Muslim league secured all the Muslim seats.
  • Congress formed the Government with absolute majority in Madras, United provinces, Bihar, Orissa and Central Provinces. In Punjab it made a coalition Government with Akalis and Unionists. Muslim League was in majority in Sind and Bengal.

Royal Indian Navy (RIN) Mutiny 1946

  • On February 18, 1946, a section of non-commissioned officers and sailors known as Ratings, serving in the Royal Indian Navy, mutinied against the British Officers.
  • The mutiny started as a strike by the ratings to protest against the hardships regarding pay, food and racial discrimination.
  • In the same night, a Naval Central Strike committee was created by the Ratings.
  • This committee was presided by Signalman M.S Khan and Vice president was Petty Officer Telegraphist Madan Singh.
  • The populace of India was already fascinated by the heroic tales of the Indian National Army. So, the strikes and hartals spread from Bombay to Calcutta, Madras and even Karachi. The foolish British commander made some derogatory remarks on the nationality of these personnel and the result was that they took possession of some ships, mounted guns over there and started firing.
  • The mutineers hoisted three flags tied together on the ships which they had captured -One of Congress, One of Muslim League, and the third Red Flag of the Communist Party of India.
  • The mutiny was ended by intervention of Sardar Patel, who after a meeting with M. S. Khan made a statement of ending the strike. The similar statement was made by Jinnah in Calcutta.
  • The mutineers surrendered but despite the assurances of Congress and Muslim League, many mutineers were arrested, subjected to court martial and dismissed from the services. The violence broke out in Mumbai and over 200 people lost lives in this disturbance. The mutiny made an impression on the British, that it would be better to leave the country.
  • On February 19, the second day of this mutiny, Cabinet Mission was sent to India.

Section Z: The Independence of India

Cabinet Mission Plan 1946

  • Cabinet Mission was composed of three Cabinet Ministers of England
    • Sir Pethick Lawrence, Secretary of State for India.
    • Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade
    • Alexander, the First Lord of the Admiralty
  • The mission arrived on March 24, 1946. The objective of this mission was to Devise a machinery to draw up the constitution of Independent India. Make arrangements for interim Government. Thus the mission was like a declaration of India’s independence.
  • The mission spent some 3 weeks to discuss with the leaders of various political parties, but could not arrive at any agreed solution. So finally it announced its own recommendations on May 16, 1946.
  • The cabinet mission plan of 1946 proposed that there shall be a Union of India which was to be empowered to deal with the defense, foreign affairs and communications.
  • The cabinet mission recommended an undivided India and turned down the Muslim league’s demand for a separate Pakistan.
  • The Cabinet mission restricted the Communal representation
  • It provided that all the members of the Interim cabinet would be Indians and there would be minimum interference by the Viceroy.
  • It also provided for formation of the constituent assembly on democratic principle of population.
  • It recognized Indian Right to cede from the Commonwealth.
  • The Union Government and its legislature were to have limited powers, dealing with Finance, Foreign Affairs and Communications. The union would have powers necessary to raise the finances to manage the subjects. Thus, the Cabinet Mission plan proposed a weak Centre. We can realize what would have been of the country if this plan was approved and implemented.
  • All subjects other than the Union Subjects and all the residuary powers would be vested in the provinces.
  • The Princely states would retain all subjects and all residuary powers.
  • A Constituent Assembly will be formed of the representatives of the Provincial Assemblies and the Princely states. Each province had to be allotted a total number of seats in proportion to the its population. The Constituent assembly had to comprise 293 Members from the British Provinces and 93 members from the Princely states.
  • The representation of the Provincial legislatures was to be break up into 3 sections. Section A: Madras, UP, Central provinces, Bombay, Bihar & Orissa. Section B: Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, Baluchistan Section C: Assam and Bengal. Thus we seem that though the Cabinet Mission plan rejected the idea of separate Pakistan, yet it grouped the provinces in such a way that it gave weightage to the idea of Pakistan, because the Section B would get almost complete autonomy.


Reaction to the Cabinet Mission Plan

  • The Congress accepted the proposals related to the Constituent assembly. But since, the Muslim league had been given disproportionate representation; it rejected the idea of the Interim Government.
  • Congress also rejected the idea of a weak centre and division of India in small states.
  • Congress was against decentralization and the idea was to have a strong centre.
  • The Muslim league first approved the plan. But when Congress declared that it could change the scheme through its majority in the Constituent Assembly, they rejected the plan.
  • On July 27, the Muslim League Council met at Bombay where Jinnah reiterated the demand for Pakistan as the only course left open to the Muslim League. On July 29, it rejected the plan and called the Muslims to resort to “Direct Action” to achieve the land of their dream “Pakistan”. August 16, 1946 was fixed as “Direct Action Day”.

Direct Action Day, August 16, 1946

  • 16 August 1946 was fixed as the Direct Action Day and it turned into the “Great Calcutta Killing”. This date started the week of long Knives and following this day, 6000 Hindus and Muslims stabbed, shot, and battered each other.
  • 20 thousand were maimed and raped. India was yet to taste the independence.
  • The Chief Secretary of Bengal was R.L. Walker.
  • The Prime Minister of Bengal was Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, from Muslim League.
  • Suhrawardy requested Governor of Bengal Sir Frederick Burrows to declare a public holiday on 16 August. But the Bengal Congress protested against the declaration of public holiday, because this would enable the Muslims to enforce hartals. Both the political parties had their own thousand reasons of observing it or not observing it a public Holiday. Congress leaders urged the Hindus to keep the shops open. The Urdu newspapers called for a complete strike on that day. The programme was published in the newspapers that the processions would start from multiple parts of Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly, Metiabruz and 24 Parganas, and would converge at the foot of the Ochterlony Monument where a joint mass rally presided over by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy would be held. The emotion of Hindus was mobilizing around idea of United India.
  • The troubles started on the morning of the August 16. Shops were forcefully closed. Stabbing, throwing of stones and brickbats started. At 12 O’clock, the League’s rally began, which was the largest ever Muslim assembly in Bengal. The Muslims from all sides of Calcutta with Iron Bars and lathes started congregating and this was followed by a Namaz at 2.00 PM. Here some fiery speeches were made by Khawaja Nazimuddin and Suhrawardy. This was followed by widespread riots in Calcutta. The riots soon spread to all parts of North India and it turned into a Civil War between Hindus and Muslims. Amidst this situation of Chaos and insanity, Mahatma Gandhi went to calm down the maddened riotists.

Constituent Assembly – December 6, 1946

  • By the December 1946, the elections to the Constituent assembly had taken place. On 6 December 1946, ,the Constituent assembly met for the first time.
  • The members of the constituent assembly were elected by the Provincial assemblies by method of single transferable vote system of proportional representations.
  • Total membership of the constituent assembly was 389, out of which 292 the representatives of the states were, 93 were representatives of princely states and 4 were from the chief commissioners provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Mewar, Coorg and British Baluchistan. The elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian provinces were completed by July-August 1946 . Congress won 208 seats and Muslim league won 73 seats. After this election, the Muslim league refused to cooperate with the Congress.
  • The political situation got worse and Hindu Muslim riots started. The Muslim league demanded for a separate Constituent assembly for Muslims in India. So, the British declared that the decisions of the Constituent assembly would not be valid in the Muslim majority areas. Thus the working of the assembly got virtually crippled. The membership of the Constituent assembly became 299 after this reorganization and it met on December 31, 1947.
  • The Constituent assembly was the First parliament of Independent India. Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha was the first president (temporary Chairman of the Assembly) of the Constituent Assembly when it met on December 9, 1946.
  • Rajendra Prasad then became the President of the Constituent Assembly, and who later become the first President of India.
  • The Vice President of the Constituent Assembly was Professor Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, former Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University and a prominent Christian from Bengal who also served as the Chairman of the Minorities Committee of the Constituent Assembly. He was appointed Governor of West Bengal after India became a republic.

Objectives Resolution- January 22, 1947

  • The historic Objectives Resolution was moved by Jawahar Lal Nehru on 13 December 1946 and was adopted on 22 January 1947. It reads as follows:
  1. This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution
  2. WHEREIN the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts for India as are outside British India and the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted into the Independent Sovereign India, shall be a Union of them all; and
  3. WHEREIN the said territories, whether with their present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the law of the Constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous Units, together with residuary powers and exercise all powers and functions of government and administration, save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union, or as are inherent or implied in the Union or resulting therefrom;
  4. WHEREIN all power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government, are derived from the people; and
  5. WHEREIN shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India justice, social economic and political : equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality
  6. WHEREIN adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes
  7. WHEREBY shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its soverign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations
  8. this ancient land attains its rightful and honored placed in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.
  • This Resolution was unanimously adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947. Late in the evening of 14 August, 1947 the Assembly met in the Constitution Hall and at the stroke of midnight, took over as the Legislative Assembly of an Independent India.
  • On 29 August, 1947, the Constituent Assembly set up a Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to prepare a Draft Constitution for India.
  • While deliberating upon the draft Constitution, the Assembly moved, discussed and disposed of as many as 2,473 amendments out of a total of 7,635 tabled. The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November, 1949 and the members appended their signatures to it on 24 January, 1950. In all, 284 members actually signed the Constitution.
  • On that day when the Constitution was being signed, it was drizzling outside and it was interpreted as a sign of a good omen. The Constitution of India came into force on 26 January, 1950.
  • On that day, the Assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in 1952.

Atlee’s Declaration – February 20, 1947

  • The Prime Minister of Britain Clement Atlee declared on February 20, 1947 in the House of Commons that the British would quit India after transferring power into the responsible hand not later than June 1948.
  • The idea was that the Indians should settle their issues before that. He also announced the appointment of Lord Mountabatten as Viceroy in place of Lord Wavell.

Arrival of Lord Mountbatten 1947

  • On March 22, 1947, Lord Mountbatten came as last British Viceroy of India.
  • He immediately began the procedure to transfer the power.
  • On March 27, 1947 Muslim League observed Pakistan Day, which resulted in riots, massacre and atrocities.
  • The Interim government, which was in existence since 2 September 1946 had failed in controlling the riots, and later uselessness of opposition of demand for a separate Pakistan by the Muslim league was realized by the leaders of the Interim Government Including Nehru.

Dickie Bird Plan 1947

  • Mountbatten prepared”Dickie Bird Plan” for India’s independence.
  • The main proposal of this plan was to that provinces should become first independent successor states rather than an Indian Union or the two dominions of India & Pakistan.
  • As per this plan all the provinces viz. Madras, Bombay, United Provinces of Bengal, Punjab & North West Frontier etc. were proposed to be declared Independent. The states later would decide whether to join constituent assembly or not. This plan was not discussed in details with leaders of India and Mountbatten discussed just informally. He gave the plan a final touch and sent to London.
  • Later when he moved to Shimla, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru joined him as a guest. Here the details of the plan were put by Mountbatten before Nehru.
  • Nehru rejected the plan right away and told him that this plan would invite Balkanization of India and would provoke conflict and violence. Consequently, Mountbatten cabled to England that this plan was cancelled.

June 3 Plan: June 3, 1947

  • By the month of June, Congress had given consent to the partition of the country.
  • On June 3, 1947, Prime Minister Atlee announced the Partition Plan or June 3 Plan in the House of Commons. The plan laid down the following provisions.
  • The provincial legislative Assemblies of Bengal and Punjab would meet in two parts separately, one representing Muslim majority districts and another representing the Hindu Majority districts to decide by the vote on partition.
  • In case of Sind and Baluchistan, the provincial assemblies would take the decision. In case of NWFP, the decision had to be taken on the base of referendum.
  • A referendum was to be organized in Sylhet region of Assam which was Muslim majority.
  • The Paramount of the princely states will not be transferred to either of India or Pakistan. So, they would in theory become sovereign when India is partitioned.
  • Congress accepted the plan.
  • Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan called the Congress treacherous which has thrown the Khudai Khidmatgars to wolves.
  • The partition became realty soon. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan rejected the referendum but the voting was done in favor of Pakistan.

Partition Council India 1947

  • Before the Partition Council, a Partition Committee was formed which was chaired by Lord Mountbatten and its members were Vallabh Bhai Patel, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Liaqat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar.
  • Later this committee was replaced by a Partition Council.
  • In this council, Congress was represented by Sardar Patel and Dr. Rajendra Prasad, with C. Rajgopalachari as alternate member.
  • Muslim league was represented by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar as alternate member.
  • Please note that even after 15 August 1947, this partition council was in existence, but the composition was changed as 2 members from each dominion. Patel and Dr. Prasad kept representing Indian Domain even at that time.


Indian Independence Act 1947


  • The Indian Independence Act was based upon the Mountbatten plan of 3rd June 1947 and was passed by the British parliament on July 5, 1947. It received royal assent on July 18, 1947.
  • It provided for two dominion states : India and Pakistan
  • The boundaries between the two dominion states were to be determined by a Boundary Commission which was headed by Sir Cyril Radcliff.
  • It provided for partition of Punjab & Bengal and separate boundary commissions to demarcate the boundaries between them.
  • Pakistan was to comprise the West Punjab, East Bengal, Territories of the Sind, North West frontier provinces, Syllhat divisions of Assam, Bhawalpur, khairpur, Baluchistan and 8 other princely states of Baluchistan.
  • The authority of the British Crown over the princely states ceased and they were free to join either India or Pakistan or remain independent.
  • Both the dominions of India and Pakistan were to have Governor Generals to be appointed by the British King. The act also provided for a common Governor general if both of them agreed.
  • The constituent assemblies of both the states were free to make constitutions of their respective countries.
  • For the time being till the constitution was made, both of them would be governed in accordance with the Government of India act 1935. Any modification or omission could be done by the Governor General. British Government would not continue any control on any dominion.
  • The Governor general was invested with adequate powers until March 1948 to issue orders for effective implementation of the provisions of the Indian independence act 1947.
  • Those civil servants who had been appointed before the August 15, 1947, will continue in service with same privileges.
  • Jinnah left for Karachi on August 7, 1947. Here the Constituent assembly of Pakistan met on August 11, 1947 and elected him the President.
  • 3 days later he was sworn in as Governor General of Pakistan.
  • On the midnight of 14 August and 15 August 1947, India and Pakistan came into existence.
  • The Constituent assembly then appointed Lord Mountbatten as the First Governor General of the Indian Dominion.
  • In the Morning of August 15, 1947, a new cabinet headed by Jawahar Lal Nehru was sworn in.
  • India paid a heavy price, thereafter in the form of thousands of lives that got burnt in the fire of partition.
January 2, 2018

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