History Notes: Indian National Movement (1930-1946)

By Sachin Awasthi|Updated : February 17th, 2021

In continuation with the previous articles on History Notes on Indian National Movement (1885-1905), Indian National Movement (1905 - 1916) & Indian National Movement (1917-1930). In this article, we will upload the Indian National Movement (1930-1946). These notes will help you to score in upcoming SSC & Railways Exams.

In continuation with the previous articles on History Notes on Indian National Movement (1885-1905), Indian National Movement (1905 - 1916) & Indian National Movement (1917-1930). In this article, we will upload the Indian National Movement (1930-1946). These notes will help you to score in upcoming SSC & Railways Exams.

History Notes: Indian National Movement (1930-1946)

Round Table Conferences

The first Round Table Conference

  • Held in November 1930 at London and it was boycotted it by the Congress.
  • In January 1931 in order to create a conducive atmosphere for talks.
  • The government lifted the ban on the Congress Party and released its leaders from prison.

On 5th March 1931, the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed. As per this pact, Mahatma Gandhi agreed to suspend the Civil-Disobedience Movement and participate in the Second Round TablConferencece. In September 1931, the Second Round Table Conference was held at London

Mahatma Gandhi participated in the Conference but returned to India disappointed as no agreement could be reached on the demand for complete independence and on the communal question. In January 1932, the Civil-Disobedience Movement was resumed.

The government responded to it by arresting Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel and by reposting the ban on the Congress party

Communal Awards

  • The Communal Award was announced by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, in August 1932.
  • This was yet another expression of the British policy of divide and rule.
  • The Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians had already been recognized as minorities.
  • The Communal Award declared the depressed classes also to be minorities, and entitled them to separate electorates’.

Poona Pact (1932)

  • By 1930, Dr. Ambedkar had become a leader of the national stature championing the cause of the depressed people of the country.
  • While presenting a real picture of the condition of these people in the First Round Table Conference, he had demanded separate electorates for them.
  • On 16 August 1932, the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald made an announcement, which came to be as the Communal Award.
  • Mahatma Gandhi protested against the Communal Award and went on a fast unto death in the Yeravada jail on 20 September 1932.
  • Finally, an agreement was reached between Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhi.
  • This agreement came to be 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.

The third Round Table Conference came to an end in 1932

  • Congress again did not take part in it.
  • Nonetheless, in March 1933, the British Government issued a White Paper.
  • Which became the basis for the enactment of the Government of India Act, 1935.

The Government of India Act, 1935

Government of India Act of 1935 was passed on the basis of –

  • the report of the Simon Commission
  • the outcome of the Round Table Conferences
  • the White Paper issued by the British Government in 1933

Main features of this act were - 

  • Provision for the establishment of an All India Federation at the Centre, consisting of the Provinces of British India and the Princely States
  • It did not come into existence since the Princely States refused to give their consent for the union
  • Division of powers into three lists viz. Federal, Provincial and Concurrent.
  • Introduction of Diarchy at the Centre
  • The Governor-General and his councillors administered the “Reserved subjects”
  • The Council of Ministers were responsible for the “Transferred” subjects
  • Abolition of Diarchy and the introduction of Provincial Autonomy in the provinces.
  • The Governor was made the head of the Provincial Executive but he was expected (not bound) to run the administration on the advice of the Council of ministers.
  • Provincial Legislatures of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, United Provinces, Bihar, and Assam were made bicameral.
  • Extension of the principle of Separate Electorates to Sikhs, Europeans, Indian Christians, and Anglo Indians
  • Establishment of a Federal Court at Delhi with a Chief Justice and 6 judges.

The Second World War and 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 22 December 1939
  • The Muslim League celebrated that 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 decide their constitution according to their social, economic and political conceptions subject to fulfillment of the obligation of the Government regarding defense, 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 Satyagraha

  • 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:

  1. The promise of Dominion Status to India
  2. Protection of minorities
  3. Setting up of a Constituent Assembly in which there would be representatives from the

The Princely States along with those of the British Provinces

  1. There would be provision for any Province of British India not prepared to accept this


  1. Either to retain its present constitutional position or frame a constitution of its own.

Gandhi called Cripp’s proposals as a “Post-dated Cheque”.

  1. 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.

Rajgopalachari Formula

  • 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’s Objections

  • 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. The league 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 —
    • 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

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.

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 - Patrick 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 until 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.

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