During the early 1930s, the Labour Party-led British government held a series of three Round Table Conferences to discuss and implement constitutional reforms in British India. The First Round Table Conference took place in London from November 1930 to January 1931.
Background of First Round Table Conference
- A growing number of members of the British polity demanded that India be granted dominion status.
- In India, the freedom movement was in full swing, with the charismatic Gandhi leading the charge for swaraj or self-rule.
- The conferences were based on Muhammad Ali Jinnah's request to Viceroy of India Lord Irwin and British Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald and the Simon Commission report.
- For the first time, the Indians and the British met equally. On November 12th November 1930, the inaugural conference began.
Participants of First Round Table Conference
- 58 British Indian political leaders.
- 16 representatives to represent the native princely states.
- 16 delegates from the three major political parties in the United Kingdom.
- Representatives from the Government of India were among the British-Indians who attended the meeting.
The Indian National Congress has chosen to boycott the meeting. Many INC leaders were imprisoned due to their participation in the civil disobedience action.
Issues Discussed in First Round Table Conference
- Federal government
- The constitution of the province
- Minorities Defence Services in Sindh and NWFP Provinces
- The Franchise Executive's Legislative Responsibilities
- Dr B.R. Ambedkar proposed separate electorates for the 'untouchables'
- The notion of an All-India Federation. The Muslim League was in favour of this. The princely states were likewise favouring it as long as their internal sovereignty was preserved
Effects of First Round Table Conference
The First Round Table Conference took place till January 19th 1931.
- Even though many reform principles were agreed upon, little was executed, and the Congress Party continued its civil disobedience. The Conference was considered a failure.
- The British government recognised the significance and necessity of the Congress Party making any political decisions in India.
Proceedings and Outcomes of First Round Table Conference
There were eight plenary sessions and one final closing session at this Conference. The planned federal structure of India, defence, issues relating to Sindh and NWFP, issues relating to Burma, defence-related concerns, and minority issues were all considered. However, because INC did not participate, the results were almost negligible.
All India Federation
Tej Bahadur Sapru proposed the All-India Federation during the First Round Table Conference. Most parties, even princely states, favoured it as long as their domestic autonomy was protected. The Muslim League also supported this plan. In India, the British decided to establish a representative government at the provincial level. The British agreed that the representative government should be implemented on a provincial level.
Demand for Separate Electorate by Dr B.R. Ambedkar
Dr B.R. Ambedkar demanded that the Untouchables be given their electorates. In reality, the First Round Table Conference unanimously agreed and also recommended that Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Suppressed Classes (Dalits), Anglo-Indians, and Europeans be represented.
The First Round Table Conference has a lot of historical importance. The failure of the Conference made them realise how things can be handled better. Following the failure of the First Round Conference, several leaders of the Indian Liberal Party, particularly pro-British members like Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamani, and Srinivasa Sastri, urged Gandhi to meet with the Viceroy. The meeting between Gandhi and Irwin had been planned. To create a favourable situation, many congress leaders were released.
FAQs on First Round Table Conference
Q.1. When was the First Round Table Conference held?
The First Round Table Conference was held from November 12th 1930 to January 19th January 1931.
Q.2. How many people attended the First Round Table Conference?
Fifty-eight political leaders from British India attended the First Round Table Conference. Sixteen delegates from the native princely states.
Q.3. Where did the First Round Table Conference take place?
The First Round Table Conference took place in London.
Q.4. Who were some of the pro-British leaders who joined the First Round Table Conference?
The First Round Table Conference was attended by some pro-British members like Tej Bahadur Sapru, Srinivasa Shastri, etc.