Cabinet Mission: Members, Cabinet Mission Plan 1946 UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Cabinet Mission Plan was an important plan sent by the then British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, which was issued by Lord Wavell (Viceroy) on 16 May 1946 and included recommendations for India’s constitutional future. This plan aimed to transfer the British Government’s power to Indian Leaders. The Cabinet Mission 1946 was a response to Indian political parties and representatives failing to reach an agreement.

This topic is very important from the UPSC exam perspective, as questions are often asked about it in the Prelims and Mains exams. You can download the Cabinet Mission UPSC notes PDF from the link given in this article to learn about its members, recommendations, failure, and much more.

What is Cabinet Mission?

Cabinet Mission Plan 1946 was sent to India in February 1946 with the aim of transferring the power from British to Indian leaders and framing a constitution-making body in India. The Cabinet mission plan main points are as follows:

Cabinet Mission PDF

  1. The nationalist forces were succeeding in penetrating the untouched sections of the societies.
  2. Constitutionalism had set its roots in the deeper areas and boosted the feeling of nationalism in the people firmly.
  3. The demands for leniency towards the INA prisoners and RIN also revolted against the Britishers.
  4. Gradually, the increasing mass movement created a fear of direct revolt and destruction against the rule. Hence, the government realized the necessity of suppressing the mass movement in time and building strong Indo-British relations, thereby giving independence.
  5. In this thread, a cabinet mission was sent by Clement Atlee to devise machinery to draw up the constitution of an independent India.

Cabinet Mission Members

Cabinet Mission Plan was designed by British Prime Minister Clement Atlee. The Cabinet Mission reached India on 24 March 1946 with the vision to solve the tussle between the Congress party and the Muslim league. This tussle was over the issue of partition of India, and even after a comprehensive discussion, over this issue, no conclusion could be drawn. Later, Clement Alee came up with a midway solution and decided to hand over the governmental powers from the British Government to Indian leaders. There were three members of the Cabinet Mission:

Cabinet Mission Members Designation
Pethick Lawrence Secretary of State of India
A.V. Alexander Lord of Admiralty
Stafford Cripps President of Board of Trade

When Cabinet Mission came in India?

The Cabinet Mission Plan was issued on 16 May 1946 by Viceory Lord Wavell. It was sent to India by the then Prime Minister of Britain, Clement Attlee, to make recommendations for the constitutional future of India. During that time, there were several disputes happening between different provinces and states, religious groups, communities, etc., for the distribution of power and land. Therefore, Cabinet Mission was formed to make provisions for India’s constitutional structure after independence.

Background of Cabinet Mission Plan 1946

To have an in-depth understanding of the Cabinet Mission, it is important to know its historical background. As soon as independence was proclaimed, there was a strong tussle between the Congress and Muslim League. The Indian National Congress and the Muslim league had a big ideological difference among them concerning certain issues. The Congress party wanted to establish a strong centre and the provinces to have minimal powers.

On the other hand, the Muslim League was constantly demanding the safeguarding of the rights of Muslims, which were then a minority group in India. To call this issue, the Cabinet Mission plan came up in 1946 with a certain set of proposals that said:

  • India will be granted independence as a complete dominion without any partition.
  • India will be divided into three sections- group A, group B, and group C.
  • Another recommendation of the Cabinet Mission Plan 1946 is that the power of defence communications and foreign powers, along with the currency, will be kept by the central government, and the rest of the other provinces will be provided with the other type of powers.
  • For the time being, the new government was being established as per the constitution, and an interim government would be formed.

Failure of Cabinet Mission Plan

There were many reasons behind the failure of the Cabinet Mission Plan.

1. The Congress party demanded the highest power in the centre and wanted to vest the minimal powers to the provinces. Whereas the Muslim League was demanding to safeguard the rights of Muslims in general as well as in the legislatures, as Muslims were minorities at that time.

2. Then came the Cabinet Mission, with the set of proposals in 1946, which said-

  • India, as a free state, will be granted Independence without any partition.
  • The province of India will be divided into three sections-

Group A: Madras, Central Provinces, UP, Bihar, Orissa, and Bombay.

Group B: Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan

Group C: Bengal and Assam.

  • All the powers will be reserved with the government at the center-Delhi. This government can exercise power on Defence, Foreign Affairs, Financial Affairs, and all other major decisions required to run the nation. The rest of the powers can be vested in the provinces and princely states.
  • A constituent assembly is to be set up to make the constitution, and by then, an interim government can be formed until a full-fledged government is formed as per the constitution.

3. Where on the one hand Muslim League was totally satisfied with the Cabinet Mission proposal and agreed to it, but the Congress party did not agree to the proposals at all. Instead, they were absolutely against the idea of dividing the country on the basis of religion and continued to demand a stronger power in the centre.

4. Considering the points and the issues raised by the Congress party, another plan was prepared and proposed in the month of June. This Cabinet Mission plan said that,

  • The province can be partitioned according to the Hindu majority and Muslim majority Nation.
  • The Princely States were provided with the choice of either joining the union or remaining as independent princely states.

5. The Congress party was working under the guidance of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and again denied the second proposal. However, they agreed to be a part of the constituent assembly.

6. In consideration of the action of the Congress party, the viceroy invited the names of 14 candidates to form the interim government. Congress chose five candidates from Congress, 5 from the League, and one member from Sikh, Parsi, Indian Christian, and scheduled caste communities.

7. The fact to be noticed here is that both the Muslim League and Congress were given the right to nominate their 5 members to take membership in the interim government. When Congress nominated Zakir Hussain, the Muslim League objected to the action stating that Indian Muslims could be represented by the League only. Hence the Muslim League did not participate in the formation of the interim government.

8. Nevertheless, the interim government was made, and Jawaharlal Nehru continued to head the interim government. Also, the process of preparing the framework of the Constitution as suggested by the Cabinet Mission Plan had started.

9. Congress formed the government in most of the provinces, including the North-West Frontier Province, and the League formed the government in Bengal and Sindh but still agitated against the government in the centre.

10. The demand for Pakistan was increasing continuously, but with more adverse effects. This demand turned into extreme communal violence.

11. Finally, considering the then-present conditions, the party agreed to proceed and form a separate nation from India. The Partition of India became an inescapable reality to stop the deadly riots in the country.

Hence, Cabinet Mission Plan failed.

Cabinet Mission UPSC

Cabinet Mission UPSC is indeed an important topic in the Modern Indian History syllabus. Many questions have been asked from the Cabinet Mission Plan 1946 in UPSC Prelims and Mains. To solve the questions in exams, one must be fairly prepared about the topics of Modern Indian History.

Cabinet Mission Plan UPSC Question

Question. With reference to the Cabinet Mission, which of the following statements is/ are correct? [UPSC Prelims, 2015]

  1. It recommended a federal government.
  2. It enlarged the powers of the Indian courts.
  3. It provided for more Indians in the ICS.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a). 1 only

(b). 1 and 3

(c). 2 and 3

(d). None

Answer:- Option A(1 only).

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