Civil Disobedience Movement (1930-1931)
• On 12th March 1930, Gandhi began March to Dandi with his chosen 79 followers and broke the salt law at Dandi on 5 April 1930.
• Following the conclusion of the Salt March to Dandi, Mahatma Gandhi chose a non-violent raid of the Dharasana Salt Works in Gujarat as the next protest against British rule.
• Mahatma Gandhi was arrested on 5th of May, 1930, just days before his projected raid on the Dharasana Salt Works.
• Dharasana Satyagraha drew worldwide attention to the Civil Disobedience Movement and brought into question the legitimacy of British rule in India because of widespread newspaper coverage by American journalist Webb Miller.
• Civil Disobedience included Indian raids on salt depots, refusal to pay taxes in chosen areas, spirits and avoidance of business with all British firms, disobedience of forest laws and boycott of foreign cloth.
• The Salt Satyagraha movement was taken up by C. Rajagopalachari in Tamil Nadu and the Vaikon Satyagraha by K. Kalappan in Malabar.
• In the North West, the Pathans under Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, popularly known as Frontier Gandhi, organized the society of ‘Khudai Khidmadgars’ which was also known as Red Shirts.
• In Bihar there was a protest against Chowkidari tax in Saran, Bhagalpur and Monghyr.
• On 18th of April, around one hundred revolutionaries attacked police and railway armories at Chittagong. Mahatma Gandhi condemned the raid.
• This movement even sparked off patriotism among the Indian soldiers in the British army. The Garhwali soldiers refused to fire on the people at Peshawar.
• It continued for almost a year, ending with the release of Mahatma Gandhi from jail and after the discussions at the Second Round Table Conference with Viceroy Lord Irwin.
• The movement had a significant effect on changing British attitudes toward Indian independence and caused huge numbers of Indians to aggressively join the fight for the first time.
• The Salt March to Dandi and the flogging of hundreds of non-violent protesters in Dharasana, marked the efficient use of civil disobedience as a method for fighting social and political injustice.
• The First Round Table Conference was convened in London on 31 October, 1929.
• Three basic principles were agreed in the Conference and the British Government was made to accept those principles.
• It was held on to discuss the Simon Commission recommendations.
• The conference was boycotted by the INC, but the Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha, Liberals and other groups were present.
• It was attended by Tej Bahadur Sapru, B.R. Ambedkar, Md. Shafi, M.A. Jinnah, Fazlul Haq, Dr. Shafaat Ahmad Khan, Sir Mirza Ismail, Sir Akbar Hydari, Maharaja of Bikaner, Raja Rajendra Nath and others.
• The conference was postponed to 2 January, 1931 because of the absence of Congress.
• The moderate statesmen Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Mukund Ramrao Jayakar and Srinivas Shastri initiated efforts to break the ice between Gandhiji and the government.
• On 25th of January 1931, Lord Irwin authorized Gandhi‘s release from prison and withdrew prohibition of illegality against the Congress Working Committee. Following this the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed on 5 March, 1931.
Salient features of the Pact:
– The Congress would participate in the Round Table Conference.
– The Congress would discontinue the Civil Disobedience Movement.
– The Government would withdraw all ordinances issued to curb the Congress.
– The Government would withdraw all prosecutions relating to offenses other than violent one. The Government would release all persons undergoing sentences of imprisonment for their activities in the civil disobedience movement.
• The INC called off the Civil Disobedience Movement and agreed to join the second Round Table Conference.
• The government on its part released political prisoners and conceded the right to make salt for consumption for villages along the coast.
• The Karachi session of 1931 endorsed the Pact.
• The Karachi session is known for its resolution on the Fundamental Rights and the National Economic Programs.
• Even though the Congress had from its inception fought for the economic interests, civil rights and political liberties of the people, this was the first time that the Congress defined what Swaraj would mean for the masses.
• It also declared that in order to end the exploitation of the masses, political freedom must include the real economic freedom for the starving millions.
Some important features of these resolutions were:
– Basic civil rights of freedom of speech, Freedom of Press, Freedom of assembly, Freedom of association irrespective of caste, creed or sex.
– Neutrality of state in regard to all religions.
– Equality before law.
– Protection of Minorities and their culture, language and script and of different linguistic areas.
– Elections on the basis of Universal Adult Franchise.
– Free and compulsory primary education.
– Substantial reduction in rent and taxes.
– Better conditions for workers including a living wage, limited hours of work.
– Protection of women and peasants.
– Conferred the right to organize and form unions to workers and peasants.
– State ownership or control of key industries, mines and means of transport.
• The absence of the Congress representations in the First Round Table conference led to the Second Round Table conference, in which the Congress representatives took part due to Gandhi-Irwin Pact of 1931.
• Other Indians who part in the conference were Ambedkar, Sapru, Jayakar, Sarojini Naidu, Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya, etc.
• Gandhi demanded immediate establishment of a full responsible government at the Centre as well as in the provinces with complete control over defense, external affairs and finance.
• The significant issue of the Second Round Table conference was to solve the communal problem, which was not solved. This was because Jinnah inflexibility was secretly supported by the British statesman like the Secretary of State for India Sir Samuel Hoare.
• The session was soon deadlocked on the minorities issue and demand of separate electorates.
• MacDonald ended the session with the announcement of creation of two new Muslim majority provinces, North West Frontier Province and Sindh.
• He also announced of setting up a committee on franchise, finance and states and held out the humiliating and dangerous prospect of a unilateral British Communal Award.
• Gandhiji’s returned to India and on his arrival in Bombay, the Congress Working Committee decided to resume the Civil Disobedience Movement.
• In 1932, INC was declared an illegal organization and all its leaders arrested.
• Gandhiji was sent to the Yeravada jail in Poona.
Poona Pact, 1932
• After the announcement of the communal award and the subsequent fast of Gandhiji, mass meetings took place everywhere.
• Political leaders like Madan Mohan Malaviya, B.R. Ambedkar and M.C. Rajah became active.
• Finally, an agreement was reached between Dr Ambedkar and Gandhi and it was called the Poona Pact.
• The British Government also approved of it.
• Accordingly, 148 seats in different Provincial Legislatures were reserved for the Depressed Classes in place of 71 as provided in the Communal Award.
• Thus the Poona Pact agreed upon a joint electorate for the upper and the lower classes.
• Harijan upliftment now became the principal concern of Gandhiji.
• An All India Anti-Untouchability League was started in September 1932 and the weekly ‘Harijan’ in 1933.
• On May 8, 1933 Gandhiji decided to begin a 21 day fast for the purification of himself and his associates for the Harijan cause.
• He started the Individual Civil Disobedience on 1 August, 1933.
• A White paper was issued in the year March 1933. The details of the working basis of the new constitution of India were enumerated in the White Paper.
• It was declared that according to the new constitution, there would be dyarchy and a responsible government in the center.
• In February 1935, a bill was introduced in the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for India, which subsequently passed and enacted as the government of India Act, 1935.
• The Government of India Act, 1935 drew its materials from the Simon Commission, the report of the All-Parties conference i.e. the Nehru Report, the discussions at the three successive Round Table Conferences, the detail enumerated in the White Paper and the reports of the Joint Select Committees.
The Government of India Act, 1935 was designed on the basis of the recommendation of Simon Commission. It envisaged an administrative set-up for India such as:
Provided for the establishment of the All India Federation consisting of the British Provinces and the Princely States. The joining of the Princely States was voluntary. (It did not come into existence since the Princely States refused to give their consent for the union.)
• Introduction of Dyarchy at the Centre.
– The Governor-General and his councilors administered the “Reserved subjects”.
– The Council of Ministers was responsible for the “Transferred” subjects.
• The provinces were to be given complete autonomy and the administrative subjects divided into three lists i.e.
– Federal List that included the subjects assigned to the Central Government;
– The Provincial List that consisted of all the subjects under the sole jurisdiction of the provinces, and
– The Concurrent List upon whose subjects both the Centre and Provinces would exercise their combined authority.
• Abolition of Dyarchy and the introduction of Provincial Autonomy in the provinces.
– The Governor was made the head of the Provincial Executive but he was expected to run the administration on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
– The provincial government was entrusted to the elected Ministers.
– They were responsible to the popularly elected Legislative Assemblies.
• Provincial Legislatures of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, United Provinces, Bihar and Assam were made bicameral.
• Establishment of a Federal Court at the Centre at Delhi with a Chief Justice and 6 judges.
• Extension of the principle of Separate Electorates to Sikhs, Europeans, Indian Christians and Anglo Indians.
• Besides these main provisions, it also contained the provisions of the formation of the provinces of Sindh and Orissa, separate and communal electorate system with reduction of the qualification of voters; separation of Burma and Aden from India.
• Accordingly, the Home Government in England was reformed. The Indian Council was abolished and a few advisers varying from 3 to 6 were appointed to advise the Secretary of States in his policy formulation towards India.
• The Secretary was normally not expected to interfere in the Indian affairs which were to be carried on by Governors.
• The working of the provincial autonomy was not successful, because the Governors were not bound to accept the advice of the ministers. In reality, the real power in the Provincial Government was with the Governor.
• Despite the drawbacks in the scheme, the Congress decided to take part in the elections to the Provincial Legislatures with the consideration that it was an improvement over the previous Acts.
• In accordance with the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1935, elections to the Provincial Legislatures were held in February 1937.
• The Congress swept the polls and Congress gained majority in Madras, Bombay, Central Provinces, U.P., Bihar and Orissa.
• In Assam and northwestern frontier, it became the largest single party.
• Similarly, the Muslim League got absolute majority in Sindh.
• On 7 July 1937, after the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow, assured the Congress of his cooperation, the party formed its ministries in seven provinces.
• The most important fact regarding the achievement of the Act can be stated that the political experience ingenerated in the minds of the Indian leaders went a long way in making the people of India conscious for their political liberty which they achieved in 1947.
• In September 1939, the Second World War broke out.
• Indian opinion was not sought but the British government dragged India in the war as a party.
• India cannot associate herself in a war said to be for democratic freedom, when that very freedom is denied to her.
• The Congress demanded the establishment of an Indian government responsible to the Central Legislative Assembly but the British government did not agree to this.
• In November 1939, the Congress resigned in protest. The Muslim League celebrated that day as the Deliverance Day.
• In March 1940 the Muslim League demanded the creation of Pakistan.
• During the course of the Second World War in order to secure the cooperation of the Indians, the British Government made an announcement on 8 August 1940, which came to be known as the ‘August Offer’.
• The August Offer envisaged that after the War a representative body of Indians would be set up to frame the new Constitution.
• Gandhi was not satisfied with the offer and decided to launch Individual Satyagraha.
• Individual Satyagraha was limited, symbolic and non-violent in nature and it was left to Mahatma Gandhi to choose the Satyagrahis.
• In October 1940, the Individual Satyagraha was launched and Vinoba Bhave was chosen by Gandhiji as the first person to offer the Satyagraha.
• Jawaharlal Nehru was the second Satyagrahi and was imprisoned for four months.
• The individual Satyagraha continued for nearly 15 months.
• Indian national leaders were opposed to fascism and condemned it as the enemy of the freedom.
• Many countries allied against fascism and put pressure on the British government to concede the demand of the Indian people.
In March 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps came to India to hold talks with the Indian leaders.
Proposals of Cripps’ Mission
– Dominion status to be granted after the war.
– Setting up a Constitution making body for India after the war whose members would be elected by the Provincial assemblies and nominated by the rulers in case of the Princely States.
• The British government undertook to accept and implement the Constitution so framed subject to two conditions that if any province not willing to accept the new Constitution could form a separate union and a separate Constitution.
• The new Constitution-making body and the British government would negotiate a treaty to sort out matters arising out of transfer of powers to Indian hands.
• The proposals were rejected by the Congress as it did not want to rely upon future promises. Gandhiji termed it as a ‘post-dated cheque in a crashing bank’.
• At last, in August, 1942, Gandhiji gave forth the slogan ‘Quit India’.
• The Congress passed a resolution on 8th August 1942, which mentioned the ‘immediate ending of British rule in India’.
• The day after the resolution was passed, the Congress was banned and all the important leaders were pushed behind the bars.
• The All India Congress Committee met at Bombay on 8 August 1942 and passed the famous Quit India Resolution. On the same day, Gandhi gave his call of ‘do or die’.
• On 8th and 9th August 1942, the government arrested all the prominent leaders of the Congress.
• For once, this pre-planned action of the government left the Indian people without leadership and that is why it is also called the Vardha Proposal and the Leaderless Revolt.
• Mahatma Gandhi was kept in prison at Poona.
• Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, and other leaders were imprisoned in the Ahmednagar Fort.
• At this time, leadership was provided by Ram Manohar Lohia, Achyuta, S.M. Joshi, Jayaprakash Narain and Aruna Asaf Ali who started consolidating underground networks.
• An underground Congress Radio was establishment and its announcer was Usha Mehta.
• Parallel governments were set up at various places such as the one in Ballia in eastern U.P. under the leadership of Chittu Pande. Others were in Satara, Talcher, parts of Eastern U.P. and Bihar.
• However, the Muslim League kept aloof from the movement and the Hindu Mahasabha condemned the movement.
• The Communist Party of India also didn’t support the movement.
• In 1943, there were armed attacks on government buildings in Madras and Bengal.
• In 1944 Mahatma Gandhi was released from jail.
• Quit India Movement was the final attempt for country’s freedom and paved the way for India’s freedom.
• Indian National Army, also known as the Azad Hind Fauj, was formed in South-East Asia in the year 1942 by pioneering Indian Nationalists and prisoners.
• The INA was initially formed under Mohan Singh, the captain in the 1/14th Punjab Regiment in the British Army, after the fall of Singapore.
• However, it was in 1943 Subhash Chandra Bose came to Tokyo and then joined the I.N.A. at Singapore. With his arrival the more vigorous phase of the I.N.A. began.
• Rash Behari Bose, who set up the Azad Hind Government (the Provincial Government of Free India), adopted the tri-color flag and gave the slogan of ‘Jai Hind’ (victory of India), handed over the leadership to him.
• Bose also reorganized the Azad Hind Fauj (I.N.A.).
• In November 1943, the Japanese announced their decision to hand over the administration of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the I.N.A.
• On 6th July 1944, Subhash Bose made an appeal on the Azad Hind Radio, Singapore, to Gandhi and seek his ‘blessings and good wishes’, calling him the ‘Father of Nation.’
• To the Indian recruits, he offered: ‘you give me blood and I will give you freedom’. His war slogan was “Dilli Chalo’’ (on to Delhi).
• In May 1944, battalion I of I.N.A. captured Mowdok, (outpost situated southeast of Chittagaon) and hoisted the tri-color flag on Indian soil.
• Another battalion under Shah Nawaz Khan joined the Japanese Army in their assault on Kohima in Nagaland.
• The next target was Imphal in Manipur to be followed by a rapid advance across the Brahmaputra into Bengal.
• Fighting side by side with the Japanese Armed forces, the I.N.A. crossed the Indian frontier on 18th March 1944. However, the campaign achieved only limited success.
• The I.N.A. failed to capture Imphal due to two reasons:
– The Japanese failed to supply the necessary materials and air cover to the I.N.A.
– The monsoon prevented their advance. In the meantime the British were able to regroup their forces and made counter-attacks.
– With the fortunes of war turned against Japan and they had to withdraw from the Indo-Burma border to meet American threat in the South Pacific I.N.A. too could not stand on its own.
– The retreat of the I.N.A. began in the middle of 1944 and ended by mid 1945, resulting in surrender of I.N.A. troops to the British Army.
– Subhash Chandra Bose disappeared. Some believed he died in an air crash while going to Tokyo, while others refused to believe this.
• The British Government of India charged the captured I.N.A. soldiers of waging war against the King.
• The trials were held in Delhi Red Fort and the first three accused were Captain P.K. Sehghal, Captain Shahnawaz Khan, and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon.
• Wide protests were held and there were meetings and processions, angry outbursts and agitated speeches everywhere, calling for the immediate release of I.N.A. prisoners.
• Leaders of all political parties, the Congress, the Muslim League and the C.P.I. demanded the release of I.N.A. prisoners. .
• Bhulabhai Desai, T. B. Sapru, Jawaharlal Nehru and Asaf Ali worked as the Defense counsel for the I.N.A. heroes.
• The court martial found all the three guilty of waging war against the King, but Lord Wavell, the Viceroy, sensing the mood of the nation remitted their death sentences on 1st January 1946.
• All the same, the Viceroy announced that the remaining trials would be restricted to such soldiers who were accused of using brutal methods to force their fellow prisoners of war to join the I.N.A.
Evaluation of Azad Hind Fauz
• I.NA. Movement was in a way, more successful then the Ghadarites and other revolutionaries who tried to use the First World War as a catalyst for Indian Independence.
• Though the I.N.A. had failed to achieve its goal but it made a significant impact on the freedom struggle. It became clear to the British that they could no longer depend on the loyalty of Indian soldiers and consider them as mercenaries.
• The struggles of the I.N.A. demonstrated that those who waged an armed struggle against the British were not at all affected by communal divisions.
• There were Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in the I.N.A. who had fought as Indians.
• The action of the Rani Jhansi brigade—an exclusively women force-demonstrated the capabilities of Indian women waging armed struggle against the British.
• The I.N.A. trials moreover brought various political parties on a common platform showing the anti-British protest.
• The Royal Indian Navy Mutiny or the Bombay Mutiny was the revolt of the Indian sailors.
• The sailors who belonged to the Royal Indian Navy on board ship and shore establishments at Bombay harbor went for a strike and organised a mutiny on 18th February 1946.
• The whole mutiny involved 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors.
• It started as a protest against their general conditions.
• The immediate reason for the outbreak of the mutiny was their pay and food.
• In addition to that there were more elementary matters such as racist behavior by Royal Navy personnel towards Indian sailors, and disciplinary measures taken against the sailors who demonstrated nationalist sympathy.
• The Royal Indian Navy Mutiny was widely supported by the Indian population.
• The one day strike spread to other cities from Bombay and the Royal Indian Air Force and local police forces also joined this mutiny.
• Furthermore, in Madras and Pune, the British garrisons had to face revolts within the ranks of the Indian Army.
• The mutinying ships hoisted three flags which were tied together those of the Congress, Muslim League, and the Red Flag of the Communist Party of India (CPI).
• The flags signified the unity and demarginalisation of communal issues among the mutineers.
• The rising, however, could not make any further headway on account of two reasons:
– The overwhelming military might of the British which was put into action.
– The joint persuasion of Vallabhbhai Patel and M.A. Jinnah to the ratings to surrender on 23rd February.
• An undertaking was given by the Congress and the league that they would prevent any victimization of the ratings but soon this assurance was forgotten. Thus, the Revolt of the Royal Indian Navy (R.I.N.) ended.
• The mutiny of naval ratings demonstrated to the British rulers that they could no longer depend on the loyalty of the armed force.
• Rajagopalachari in his formula proposed that plebiscite should be held in contiguous districts of North West and East where Muslims were in absolute majority.
• If the majority decides in favor of forming a separate sovereign state, such decision could be accepted.
• Jinnah objected to the proposal as he wanted only Muslims of North West and East of India to vote in the plebiscite.
• After the Second World War, Lord Clement Atlee became the Prime Minister of England.
• On 15 March, 1946 he made a historic announcement in which the right to self-determination and the framing of a Constitution for India were conceded.
• Consequently, three members of the British Cabinet – Patrick Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and A. V. Alexander – were sent to India.
• This came to be known as the Cabinet Mission.
• The Cabinet Mission put forward a plan for solution of the constitutional problem.
Major provisions of Cabinet Mission
– Rejected the demand for separate Pakistan and instead a federal union consisting Princely States was suggested. The union would deal into the following subjects: Foreign affairs, Defence and Communication and would have the powers to raise the finances required for the above subjects. Full autonomy would be enjoyed by the provinces in respect of all subjects other than the union subjects.
– There were to be three groups of Provinces: Group A with six Hindu majority provinces (Bombay, United Province, Bihar, Central Province, Orissa, and Madras); Group B with three Muslim majority provinces (Sind, NWFP, and Punjab) and Group C (Assam and Bengal). After the first general elections, a province could come out of the group and after 10 years a province could call for reconsideration of the group or union constitution.
– The Union would consist of an executive and a legislature. The legislature would not be directly elected by the people but by the provincial legislatures on the basis of communal electorates. Members of the Princely States would be appointed by the rulers of the Princely States.
• A proposal was envisaged for setting up an Interim Government, which would remain in office till a new government was elected on the basis of the new Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly.
• Both the Muslim League and the Congress accepted the plan.
• Consequently, elections were held in July 1946 for the formation of a Constituent Assembly.
• The Congress secured 205 out of 214 General seats. The Muslim League got 73 out of 78 Muslim seats.
• An Interim Government was formed under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru on 2 September 1946.
• Based on Cabinet Mission Plan, an interim government consisting of Congress nominees was formed on 2 September 2, 1946.
• J.L. Nehru was its Vice-President and the Governor-General remained as its President.
• Muslim League did not join it initially but finally Wavell succeeded in having five members of the League join the government on Oct 26, 1946.
• Muslim League withdrew its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan on Jul 29, 1946.
• It passed a ‘Direct action’ resolution, which condemned both the British Government and the Congress (Aug 16, 1946) which resulted in heavy communal riots.
• Jinnah celebrated Pakistan Day on Mar 27, 1947.
Formation of constituent Assembly of India
• The constituent assembly met on Dec 9, 1946 and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as its president.
• Lord Mountbatten on 3 Jun, 1947, put forward his plan which outlined the steps for the solution of India’s political problem.
• The British Govt., passed the Indian Independence Act of 1947 in Jul 1947, which contained the major provisions put forward by the Mountbatten plan.
• The main provisions of the Plan were:
– India to be divided into India and Pakistan.
– Bengal and Punjab will be partitioned and a referendum in NEFP and Sylhet district of Assam would be held.
– There would be a separate constitutional assembly for Pakistan to frame its constitution.
– The Princely states would enjoy the liberty to join either India or Pakistan or even remain independent.
– Aug 15, 1947 was the date fixed for handing over power to India and Pakistan.
• The British Government accorded formal approval to the Mountbatten Plan by enacting the Indian Independence Act on 18 July 1947.
• The salient features of this Act were:
– The partition of the country into India and Pakistan would come into effect from 15 August 1947.
– The British Government would transfer all powers to these two Dominions.
– A Boundary Commission would demarcate the boundaries of the provinces of the Punjab and Bengal.
– The Act provided for the transfer of power to the Constituent Assemblies of the two Dominions, which will have full authority to frame their respective Constitutions.
• The Radcliff Boundary Commission drew the boundary line separating India and Pakistan.
• On 15th August 1947 India, and on the 14th August Pakistan came into existence as two independent states.
• Lord Mountbatten was made the first Governor General of Independent India, whereas Mohammad Ali Jinnah became the first Governor General of Pakistan.