Prelims-2016 (History Session)-Short Notes from Spectrum Modern India

Lord Linlithgow (1936-44)

  • Longest reign as viceroy of India
  • Beginning of the Second World War
  • Coming into force of the Government of India Act 1935 with provinces going to elections
  • Arrival of the Cripps Mission
  • Beginning of the Quit India Movement
  • Great Famine of Bengal (1943)

The Second World War and Nationalists Response

  • In 1937 elections were held under the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1935
  • Congress Ministries were formed in seven states of India.
  • On 1 September 1939, 2nd World War broke out
  • The British Government without consulting the people of India involved the country in the war.
  • The Congress vehemently opposed it.
  • As a mark of protest the Congress Ministries resigned in all the seven Provinces on 12 December 1939
  • The Muslim League celebrated this day as the Deliverance Day
  • In March 1940 the Muslim League demanded the creation of Pakistan.

August offer

During the course of the 2nd 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’, which proposed –
  • Dominion status as the objective for India.
  • Expansion of viceroy’s executive council & setting up of a constituent assembly after the war consisting of Indians to

  1. decide their constitution according to their social, economic and political conceptions
  2. subject to fulfilment of the obligation of the Government regarding defence, minority rights, treaties with states & all India services

  • No future constitution to be adopted without the consent of minorities.
India’s Reaction to August offer
  • The Congress rejected the August Offer
  • Nehru said, “Dominion status concept is dead as a door nail”

Individual Satyagrahas

  • Gandhi launched Individual Satyagraha against involving Indians in second world war
  • It was limited, symbolic and non-violent in nature
  • It was left to Mahatma Gandhi to choose the Satyagrahis
The aims of launching individual satyagraha were —
  • to show that nationalist patience was not due to weakness;
  • to express people’s feeling that they were not interested in the war they made no distinction between Nazism and the double autocracy that ruled India; and
  • to give another opportunity to the Government to accept Congress demands peacefully.
  • Demand of the satyagrahi would be the freedom of speech against the war through an anti-war declaration
  • Satyagraha also called for march towards Delhi, which came to be known as the “Delhi Chalo Movement”.
Points of Prominence
  • Acharya Vinoba Bhave was the 1st to offer Satyagraha and he was sentenced to three months imprisonment.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru was the 2nd Satyagrahi and imprisoned for four months.
  • The individual Satyagraha continued for nearly 15 months.

Cripps Mission

  • In March 1942, a mission headed by Stafford Cripps was sent to India with constitutional proposals to seek Indian support for the war.
Main Proposals
  • An Indian Union with a dominion status would be set up;
  • It would be free to decide its relations with the Commonwealth and free to participate in the United Nations and other international bodies.
  • After the end of the war, a constituent assembly would be convened to frame a new constitution.
  • Members of this assembly would be partly elected by the provincial assemblies through proportional representation and partly nominated by the princes.
  • The British Government would accept the new constitution subject to two conditions –
  • any province not willing to join the Union could have a separate constitution and form a separate Union, and
  • the new constitution making body and the British Government would negotiate a treaty to effect the transfer of power and to safeguard racial and religious minorities.
  • In the meantime, defence of India would remain in British hands and the governor-general’s powers would remain intact.
The Congress objected to
  • The offer of dominion status instead of a provision for complete independence
  • Representation of the states by nominees and not by elected representatives
  • Right to provinces to secede as this went against the principle of national unity
  • Absence of any plan for immediate transfer of power and absence of any real share in defence
  • The governor general’s supremacy had been retained, and the demand for governor-general being only the constitutional head had not been accepted
The Muslim League objection
  • Criticized the idea of a single Indian Union
  • Did not like the machinery for the creation of a constituent assembly and the procedure to decide on the accession of provinces to the Union
  • Thought that the proposals denied to the Muslims the right to self-determination and the creation of Pakistan

Quit India Movement (1942 – 44)

Gandhi called Cripps proposals as a Post-dated Cheque” & in Bombay session of Indian National Congress framed a resolution with following key provisions –
  • An immediate end to British rule in India.
  • Commitment of free India to defend itself against all types of Fascism & imperialism.
  • A provisional Government of India after British withdrawal.
  • A civil disobedience movement against British rule.

Gandhi’s Instructions to Different Sections

Government servantsDo not resign but declare your allegiance to the Congress
SoldiersDo not leave the Army but do not fire on compatriots
StudentsIf confident, leave studies
PeasantsIf zamindars are anti-government, pay mutually agreed rent, and if zamindars are pro-government, do not pay rent
PrincesSupport the masses and accept sovereignty of your people
Princely state peopleSupport the ruler only if he is anti-government and declare yourselves to be a part of the Indian nation
Do or DieWe shall either free India or, die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery
The Government, however, was in no mood to either negotiate with the Congress or wait for the movement to be formally launched, therefore, in a single sweep, all the top leaders, of the Congress were arrested and taken to unknown destinations.

Quit India Movement was the final attempt for country’s freedom as 

  • Large number of students left their schools and colleges to join the movement
  • Youth of the nation participated in this movement with patriotism viz. strikes, demonstrations and public meetings along with armed attacks on government buildings
  • British Government ordered for 538 rounds of firing, At least 7,000 people were killed, Nearly 60,229 persons were jailed.
  • Paved the way for India’s freedom & aroused among Indians the feelings of bravery, enthusiasm and total sacrifice.
  • There were no communal clashes during the movement.
  • The movement established the truth that it was no longer possible to rule India without the wishes of Indians.

Indian National Army

The idea of the Indian National Army (INA) was first conceived in Malaya by Mohan Singh, an Indian officer of the British Indian Army, when he decided not to join the retreating British Army and instead turned to the Japanese for help.
  • The Japanese handed over the Indian prisoners of war (POWs) to Mohan Singh who tried to recruit them into an Indian National Army.
  • In1942, After the fall of Singapore, Mohan Singh further got 45,000 POWs into his sphere of influence.
  • 2 July 1943, Subhash Chandra Bose reached Singapore and gave the rousing war cry of ‘Dilli Chalo’
  • Was made the President of Indian Independence League and soon became the supreme commander of the Indian National Army
  • Here he gave the slogan of Jai Hind
  • INA’s three Brigades were the Subhas Brigade, Gandhi Brigade and Nehru Brigade.
  • The women’s wing of the army was named after Rani Laxmibai.
  • INA marched towards Imphal after registering its victory over Kohima but after Japan’s surrender in 1945, INA failed in its efforts.
  • Under such circumstances, Subhash went to Taiwan & further on his way to Tokyo he died on 18 August 1945 in a plane crash.
  • Trial of the soldiers of INA was held at Red Fort in Delhi.
  • Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai, Kailash Nath Katju, Asaf Ali and Tej Bahadur Sapru fought the case on behalf of the soldiers.

Subhash Chandra Bose

  • Popularly known as Netaji, was born on Jan 23, 1897 at Cuttack.
  • He passed the Indian Civil Services Examination in 1920, but left it on the Gandhiji’s call of Non – Cooperation Movement.
  • He founded the Independence for India League with Jawahar Lai Nehru.
  • In 1938, he was elected the President of the INC at its Haripura session and in 1939, he was elected President of its Tripuri session.
  • But he had to resign from Tripuri due to differences with Gandhiji.
  • He founded the Forward Block in 1939.
  • In 1941, he escaped to Berlin and met Hitler.
  • In 1943, he took charge of Indian National Army in Singapore and set up the Indian Provisional Government there.
  • He gave the war cry of ‘Dilli Chalo’.
  • He addressed Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation
  • He gave the slogan of ‘Jai Hind’
  • He wrote his autobiography ‘The Indian Struggle’
  • He supposedly died in a plane crash on Aug 18, 1945

Rajgopalachari Formula

  1. Rajagopalachari, the veteran Congress leader, prepared a formula for Congress-League cooperation, accepted to Gandhi.
  • It was a tacit acceptance of the League’s demand for Pakistan.
  • Hindu leaders led by Vir Savarkar condemned the CR Plan.
The main points in CR Plan were –
  • Muslim League to endorse Congress demand for independence.
  • League to cooperate with Congress in forming a provisional government at centre.
  • After the war, the entire population of Muslim majority areas in the North-West & North-East India to decide by a plebiscite, whether or not to form a separate sovereign state.
  • In case of acceptance of partition, agreement to be made jointly for safeguarding defence, commerce, communications, etc.
  • The above terms to be operative only if England transferred full powers to India.
Jinnah’s Objections
  • Jinnah wanted the Congress to accept the two-nation theory.
  • He wanted only the Muslims of North-West and North-East to vote in the plebiscite and not the entire population.
  • He also opposed the idea of a common centre.
Hence, while the Congress was ready to cooperate with the League for the independence of the Indian Union, the League did not care for independence of the Union. It was only interested in a separate nation.

Desai-Liaqat Pact

  • Bhulabhai Desai, leader of the Congress with Liaqat Ali Khan, leader of the Muslim drafted a proposal for the formation of an interim government at the centre, consisting of —

  1. an equal number of persons nominated by the Congress & League in the central legislature.
  2. 20% reserved seats for minorities

  • No settlement could be reached between the Congress and the League on these lines
  • But the fact that a sort of parity between the Congress and the League was decided upon, which had far-reaching

Wavell Plan

  • A conference was convened by the viceroy, Lord Wavell; at Shimla in June 1945
  • Aimed to reconstruct the governor general’s executive council pending the preparation of a new constitution.
Main Proposals
  • With the exception of the governor-general and the commander-in-chief, all members of the executive council were to be Indians.
  • Hindus and Muslims were to have equal representation.
  • The reconstructed council was to function as an interim government within the framework of the 1935 Act (i.e. not responsible to the Central Assembly).
  • Governor- General was to exercise his veto on the advice of ministers.
  • Representatives of different parties were, to submit a joint list to the viceroy for nominations to the executive council.
  • If a joint list was not possible, then separate lists were to be submitted.
  • Possibilities were to be, kept open for negotiations on a new constitution once the war was finally won.

Cabinet Mission (1946)

  • On 15 March, 1946 Lord Atlee (PM of England) made a historic announcement in which the right to self-determination and the framing of a Constitution for India were conceded.
  • Consequently, 3 members of the British Cabinet – Pattrick Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and A V Alexander – were sent to India, known as the Cabinet Mission.
  • Main features of Cabinet Mission were –
  • Provisions for three groups of provinces to possess their separate constitutions.
  • Proposed the formation of a Union of India, comprising both the British India and the Princely States.
  • Union would remain in charge of only foreign affairs, defense and communications leaving the residuary powers to be vested in the provinces.
  • Proposed 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
  • Rejection of the demand for a full-fledged Pakistan
  • Both the Muslim League and the Congress accepted the plan
  • Consequently, elections were held in July 1946 for the formation of a Constituent Assembly.
  • 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.

Plan Balkan

  • Between March and May of 1947, Mountbatten decided that the Cabinet Mission Plan had become untenable and formulated an alternative plan.
  • This plan envisaged the transfer of power to separate provinces (or to a confederation, if formed before the transfer)
  • Punjab and Bengal were given the option to vote for partition of their provinces.
  • The various units thus formed along with the princely states (rendered independent by lapse of paramouncy) would have the option of joining India or Pakistan or remaining separate.
  • The plan was quickly abandoned after Nehru reacted violently to it.

Mountbatten Plan (1947)

  • On 20 February l947, Prime Minister Atlee announced in the House of Commons the definite intention
  • To affect the transference of that power Atlee decided to send Lord Mountbatten as Viceroy to India.
  • Lord Mountbatten armed with vast powers became India’s Viceroy on 24 March 1947.
  • Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan appeared inevitable to him.
  • After extensive consultation Lord Mountbatten put forth the plan of partition of India on 3 June 1947.
  • The Congress and the Muslim League ultimately approved the Mountbatten Plan.

Indian Independence Act 1947

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 –
  • Partition of the country into India and Pakistan would come into effect from 15 August 1947.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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