The GK section of almost every BBA & HM exam includes questions from the topic “ Indian National Movement (1917-1947)”. This topic is considered to be quite important and generally every year a good number of questions are asked on this topic.
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Second World War & National Movement
- 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, the Second World War broke out.
- The British Government without consulting the people of India involved the country in the war.
- As a mark of protest the Congress Ministries in the Provinces resigned on 12 December 1939
- 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 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 decide their constitution according to their social, economic and political conceptions 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 doornail”
- In order to secure the cooperation of the Indians, the British Government made an announcement on 8 August 1940,
- 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 is an offer and decided to launch Individual Satyagraha.
- Individual Satyagraha was limited, symbolic and non-violent in nature. It was left to Mahatma Gandhi to choose the Satyagrahis.
- Acharya Vinoba Bhave was the first to offer Satyagraha and he was sentenced to three months imprisonment.
- Jawaharlal Nehru was the second Satyagrahi and imprisoned for four months.
- The individual Satyagraha continued for nearly 15 months.
Cripps Mission (1942)
- In the midst of worsening wartime international situation, the British Government in its continued effort to secure Indian cooperation seent Sir Stafford Cripps to India on 23 March 1942. This is known as Cripps Mission
The main recommendations of Cripps were:
- The promise of Dominion Status to India
- Protection of minorities
- Setting up of a Constituent Assembly in which there would be representatives from the Princely States along with those of the British Provinces
- There would be provision for any Province of British India not prepared to accept this Constitution,
- Either to retain its present constitutional position or frame a constitution of its own.
- Gandhi called Cripp’s proposals as a “Post-dated Cheque”.
- The Muslim League was also dissatisfied as its demand for Pakistan had not been conceded in the proposal.
Quit India Movement (1942-1944)
- The failure of the Cripps Mission and the fear of an impending Japanese invasion of India led Mahatma Gandhi to begin his campaign for the British to quit India.
- Mahatma Gandhi believed that an interim government could be formed only after the British left India and the Hindu-Muslim problem sorted out.
- 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.
- 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 and S.M. Joshi.
- The role of Jayaprakash Narain in this movement was important.
- A large number of students also left their schools and colleges to join the movement.
- The youth of the nation also participated in this movement with patriotism.
- In 1944 Mahatma Gandhi was released from jail.
- Quit India Movement was the final attempt for the country’s freedom.
- The British Government ordered for 538 rounds of firing. Nearly 60,229 persons were jailed.
- At least 7,000 people were killed.
- This movement paved the way for India’s freedom. It aroused among Indians the feelings of bravery, enthusiasm and total sacrifice.
- 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 the 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 wanted 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 the independence of the Union. It was only interesting in a separate nation.
- 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 —
- an equal number of persons nominated by the Congress & League in the central legislature
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Indian National Army
- During the course of the Second World War, armed revolutionary activities continued to take place.
- The role of Subhas Chandra Bose towards such activities is incomparable.
- On 2 July 1943, Subhas Chandra Bose reached Singapore and gave the rousing war cry of ‘Dilli Chalo’
- He was made the President of Indian Independence League and soon became the supreme commander of the Indian National Army.
- The names of the INA’s three Brigades were the Subhas Brigade, Gandhi Brigade and Nehru Brigade
- The women’s wing of the army was named after Rani Lamiae
- The Indian National Army marched towards Imphal after registering its victory over Kohima.
- After Japan’s surrender in 1945
- The INA failed in its efforts. Under such circumstances, Subhas went to Taiwan.
- Then on his way to Tokyo, he died on 18 August 1945 in a plane crash
- The trial of the soldiers of INA was held at Red Fort in Delhi
- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai and Tej Bahadur Sapru fought the case on behalf of the soldiers
Cabinet Mission (1946)
- After the Second World War, Lord Atlee became the Prime Minister of England.
- On 15 March 1946 Lord Atlee 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 - Pethick Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and A. V. Alexander - were sent to India. This is known as the Cabinet Mission.
- The Cabinet Mission put forward a plan for the solution of the constitutional problem.
- Provision was made for three groups of provinces to possess their separate constitutions.
- The Cabinet Mission also proposed the formation of a Union of India, comprising both British India and the Princely States.
- The Union would remain in charge of only foreign affairs, defence and communications. leaving the residuary powers to be vested in the provinces till a new government was elected.
- 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.
Mountbatten Plan (1947)
- On 20 February l947, Prime Minister Atlee announced in the House of Commons the definite intention of the British Government to transfer power to responsible Indian hands.
- Thus, to effect 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.
- The 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.
- The British Government accorded formal approval to the Mountbatten Plan by enacting the Indian Independence Act on 18 July 1947.
- 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.
- The most tragic incident occurred on 30 January 1948, when Mahatma Gandhi - the father of the nation on his way to a prayer meeting was assassinated by Nathuram Godse.
Demand for Pakistan
- In 1940 at the Lahore session of the Muslim League, the demand for a separate state of Pakistan was made. It was based on the two-nation theory.
- The Muslim League demanded that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North-Western and Eastern Zones of India should be grouped to constitute the Independent States in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.
- The demand for a separate state was opposed by large sections of Muslims who were against any separatist demand.
- Many nationalist leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who had always been in the forefront of the national movement opposed the demand for a separate state and fought against communal tendencies and for the freedom of the Indian people.
- Of these the more prominent were the Khuda Khidmatgar in the North-West Frontier Province organized by the Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Watan party in Baluchistan, the All-India Momin Conference, the Ahrar Party, the All India Shia Political Conference and the Azad Muslim Conference.
- These organizations along with Congress led a large number of Muslims in the struggle for independence.
- The Muslim League was encouraged by the British government to press its demand for a separate state and played the game of British imperialism which had the effect of disrupting and weakening the movement for independence.
- When the Congress withdrew from the provincial governments in protest against British attitude to the demand for independence, the Muslim League celebrated the event by observing Deliverance Day and tried to form ministries in the provinces although they did not have a majority in any provincial legislature.
- Jinnah was alarmed at the results of the elections because the Muslim League was in danger of being totally eclipsed in the constituent assembly.
- Therefore, Muslim League withdraws its acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan on Jul 29, 1946.
- It passed a ‘Direct action’ resolution, which condemned both the British Government and Congress (Aug 16, 1946).
- It resulted in heavy communal riots.
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