British Reforms

During the Second World War negotiations aimed at independent achieved little? Explain your answer.

British Reforms

Question: During the Second World War negotiations aimed at independent achieved little? Explain your answer. [14]

Answer: The World War II broke out in 1939.The British government involved India in the War  without  the  consent  of  the  Indian  people.  In  protest  against  this  the  Congress Ministries resigned 1939.The British government showed no sign of coming to an understanding with the Indian leaders. But in 1940 when the War situation worsened for the British it came up with some proposals. This was the August Offer of 1940. Other negotiations that took place were On March 22, 1942, Britain sent Sir Stafford Cripps with constitutional proposals. The Gandhi-Jinnah talks began in Bombay on September 19, 1944, and lasted till the 24th of the month. In May 1945, Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India, formulated a plan of action that was made public in June 1945. The plan is known as Wavell Plan.

The events of the Second World War created great difficulties for the British, who were losing their hold in North Africa and Southeast Asia. The danger that the Japanese would soon  reach India and  overrun it  with  ease  was  increasing day  by  day.  To  ensure the security of the subcontinent, the British Government sought the cooperation of its people through an offer made by Indian Viceroy Lord Linlithgow on 8 August 1940. The so-called “August Offer” promised to include the representatives of the political parties and communities on an executive council. Linlithgow also set up a War Advisory Council which included representatives of the various Indian states and communities. After the war, a special constitution-making body was to be set up to prepare a new constitution, and special consideration would be given to the minorities (although the British Government clarified that they would not transfer power to any party “whose authority was directly denied by a  large and powerful element in India’s national life”).In the beginning, the Muslim League accepted the offer, as they were happy with the assurance that no future constitution would be framed without their approval. However, they made it clear that the partition of India was the only solution to future constitutional problems. Later, both the Muslim League and Congress rejected the offer.

Cripps Mission was deputed by British parliament in early 1942 to contain the political crisis obtained in India. The mission was headed by Sir Stafford Cripps, a Cabinet Minister. Therefore on 11 March, he announced about sending Cripps Mission to India. The Mission reached India on 23 March, talked to different Indian leaders for nearly twenty days and then offered its proposals. It offered Dominion status to India after the war and even the right to secede. It provided for a constitution committee after the war and the provinces to be  free  to  frame their own  constitution. All  the  parties rejected it.  The  Mission failed because of the attitude of the conservative party. The government did not desire to share power with the Indians during the war. Cripps was also not completely free to negotiate with the Indians. Cripps blamed Gandhi and the congress leaders for the failure of his mission.

The Gandhi-Jinnah talks began in Bombay on September 19, 1944, and lasted till the 24th of  the  month.  Gandhi argued  with  Jinnah  in  the  talks  that  all  Indians  are  one  nation therefore demand of separate homeland was baseless. Congress and league should cooperate  and  achieve  independent  first,  then  a  referendum  maybe  held  in  Muslim majority provinces to find out if they wish to be separated. Punjab and Bengal will have to be divided because there are non-Muslims majority districts. Mr. Jinnah did not agree and pressed upon an independent and sovereign Muslim state. Therefore no fruitful result came out because Gandhi did not accepted Muslims as a separate nation. On the other hand Jinnah wanted all six provinces which were Bengal, Kashmir, Baluchistan, N.W.F.P, Sind and Punjab to be included in Pakistan. Though the Gandhi-Jinnah negotiations failed to achieve the avowed goal of the Hindu-Muslim unity, they brought to Jinnah and the Muslim League

two important political gains. Firstly, the leadership of the Congress had now offered to discuss the question of Pakistan seriously before that, the Congress and Mahatma had kept the door to that subject uncompromisingly shut. Secondly, the Congress could no longer justifiably claim that it stood for all the communities in India including the Muslims.

In May 1945 Lord Wavell the Viceroy of India went to London and discussed his ideas about the future of India, with the British administration which formulated a plan of action that was made public in June 1945. The plan suggested the reconstitution of the Viceroy’s executive council in which the Viceroy was to select persons nominated by the political parties. Different communities were also to get their due share in the council and parity was reserved for casts Hindu and Muslims. This plan of Lord Wavell’s can only be executed if the leadership of leading political parties agreed with the suggestion of the government so to discuss these proposals Lord Wavell called a conference in Simla on June 25th 1945. The leadership of both Congress and Muslim League attended the conference. However differences arouse between the leadership of the two parties on the issue of representation of the Muslims community. The Muslim League claimed that it was the only Muslim representative party in India and the entire Muslims representative in the Viceroy’s executive council should be the nominees of the Party. On the other hand Congress tried to prove that their party represented all the parties living in India and thus should be allowed to nominate Muslim representatives as well. Congress also opposed the ideas of parity between the cast- Hindus and the Muslims. This attempt of Lord Wavell was failed because Jinnah not only wanted parity between the Muslims and the Hindus (which was conceded) but also insisted on the Muslim League nominating all Muslims councilors (which was not conceded).

Second World War ended in August 1945; this all negotiations aimed at independence during the Second World War the negotiations revealed two things firstly will have to leave India sooner or later, secondly the Muslims would not agree to anything less than independent states for themselves.


One thought on “During the Second World War negotiations aimed at independent achieved little? Explain your answer.”

  1. Examiner Comments: In their responses to part (c) on the success of negotiations aimed
    at Independence during the Second World War there was a predictable type of answer from
    candidates. Examiners were looking for a balanced answer from candidates detailing successes and failures but most candidates merely described events during the War and as with
    the previous question they were limited to a mark within level 2.

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