Cripps Mission: Proposal, Members, Date, Cripps Mission UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Cripps Mission refers to a significant political initiative undertaken by the British government during World War II in 1942. It was led by Sir Stafford Cripps, a prominent British politician, and member of the War Cabinet. The primary objective of the Cripps Mission was to secure Indian support and cooperation in Britain’s war efforts against the Axis powers. The mission aimed to propose a plan for India’s constitutional future and garner support from Indian political leaders for the war.

The Cripps Mission UPSC is an important topic for the IAS Prelims and Mains examination. Through the article, we will discuss the background that leads to the Cripps Proposal along with learning about its members, its significance, and the reasons for its failure.

What is Cripps Mission?

Cripps Mission was a British attempt to convince Indians to support and participate in World War 2 in March 1942. The mission was led by Stafford Cripps who was a senior minister in the British government. Therefore, the name of the mission was Cripps Mission. Even after the efforts of the government, the mission was unsuccessful.

Cripps Mission UPSC [PDF]

Stafford Cripps was a member of the Labour Party. This party was in favour of the Indians ruling the country but Cripps was also a part of the cabinet that was led by the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He was given the responsibility of working out an agreement with the leaders of Congress, the goals of which could not be achieved successfully.

Cripps Mission Members

As is clear by the name, the Cripps Mission 1942 was headed by Stafford Cripps who was a senior member of the British government. He was chosen to be sent to India to discuss the terms of the agreement with the Indian Congress leaders. He was accompanied by Lord Privy Seal. A few other members of the State Council were also part of this group which included the House of Commons leader along with other important members. Though originally, the Cripps Mission was constituted by,

  • Stafford Cripps
  • Pethick-Lawrence
  • A.V. Alexander

Purpose of Cripps Mission

The major reasons why Cripps Mission came to India in 1942 are as follows:

  • Britain was pressurized by USA, USSR & China to seek India’s cooperation.
  • Britain wanted India’s support as they suffered tremendous losses in Southeast Asia and Japan’s threat to invade India seemed real to them.

Cripps Proposal

The Cripps proposal involved a number of terms to be agreed upon. There were mainly five key points that were proposed by Stafford Cripps and his team. The Cripps Proposal included the following main points:

  • Setting up of a new Constituent Assembly which would draft a new constitution.
  • The establishment of a separate dominion of India which would be free to decide whether to stay associated with the British government or not.
  • Freedom of creating a separate state for the provinces that are not interested to be a part of the Indian dominion.
  • There was another condition that the country will be under the British government’s protection till the framing of the new constitution.

Significance of Cripps Mission 1942

The Cripps Mission was a significant mission from the British government’s point of view. Although it was a failed attempt, it did add a few important points that could prove useful for India as a country.

  • The Cripps Mission was an assurance from the British that they were in favour of India becoming a separate state.
  • The mission gave India the right to create its own constitution.
  • The British gave freedom to India to separate itself from them.
  • Provinces were also provided with the freedom to form a union of their own if they did not want to be a part of India.

Rejection of Cripps Mission

The meetings, known as the Cripps Mission, took place in Delhi from March 22 to April 12, 1942, and marked an attempt to rally the rival Indian National Congress and Muslim League. Congress and the Muslim League objected to the Cripps Mission of 1942 for the reasons listed below.

Congress’s Reaction to Cripps Proposal

  • The Cripps Mission proposed representation of the princely states by nominees and not by elected representatives.
  • It offered dominion status to India instead of a provision for complete independence.
  • The principle of national unity was kept at stake as the Cripps Mission gave the right to provinces to secede according to their will.
  • There was an absence of any plan for an immediate transfer of power and an absence of any real share in defence.
  • The supremacy of the Governor-General’s power was retained, along with the demand that the Governor-General be only the constitutional head was not accepted.

Muslim League Reaction to Cripps Proposal

  • They were against the idea of a single Indian Union and thus criticized it.
  • The Muslim League was of the opinion that the Cripps Mission denied Muslims the right to self-determination and the creation of Pakistan.
  • The leaders of the Muslim League were against the method of the formation of the Constituent Assembly and were also not satisfied with how the provinces’ accession was decided to be done in the Indian union.

Failure of Cripps Mission

The Cripps Mission ultimately failed in achieving its goal of gaining the trust and cooperation of the Indian leaders. There were several reasons for this as follows:

  • The Cripps Mission was directly shunned by the leaders of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, etc.
  • The INC was not satisfied with the proposals of the Cripps Mission and found them to be very conventional as it was in favour of complete independence.
  • It is also said that the Cripps Mission failed because there was no support from some significant leaders such as the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Viceroy Linlithgow, the Indian Secretary of State, and Leo Amery.

Why did Gandhi Opposed the Cripps Mission?

Mahatma Gandhi opposed the Cripps Mission and the proposal put forward by Sir Stafford Cripps for several reasons:

  1. Failure to Guarantee Immediate Independence: Gandhi and the Indian National Congress (INC) had been demanding complete independence from British rule. The Cripps Offer fell short of this demand as it proposed the formation of an Indian Dominion within the British Commonwealth. Gandhi believed that the offer did not provide a clear pathway to immediate independence.
  2. Exclusion of Congress Leadership: The Cripps Mission did not include any prominent Congress leaders in the negotiations. Gandhi viewed this as a snub to the INC and felt that it undermined the credibility and legitimacy of the proposal.
  3. Lack of Consultation with Indian Political Parties: The Cripps Mission presented its proposal without prior consultation with major Indian political parties, including the INC. Gandhi criticized this approach, arguing that decisions regarding India’s political future should involve broad-based discussions and consensus among all stakeholders.
  4. Inadequate Safeguards for Minority Communities: Gandhi was concerned about the protection of minority rights, particularly the interests of Muslims. He believed that the Cripps Offer did not provide sufficient safeguards for the Muslim community’s concerns and did not address the demand for a separate Muslim state, which later culminated in the creation of Pakistan.
  5. Vagueness and Ambiguity: The Cripps Offer was seen by Gandhi and other Indian leaders as vague and ambiguous in its commitments. It lacked clear provisions and timelines for the transfer of power, making it difficult for them to trust the British government’s intentions.

In summary, Gandhi opposed the Cripps Mission because he perceived the proposal as inadequate in terms of immediate independence, exclusion of Congress leaders, lack of consultation with Indian political parties, insufficient safeguards for minority communities, and vagueness in its commitments. He believed that the offer did not meet the aspirations and demands of the Indian people for self-rule and complete independence.

Cripps Mission UPSC

The Cripps Mission of 1942 is an important topic in the Indian Modern History of the UPSC Exam, concerning the 1939-1947 period. To cover the Cripps Mission UPSC topic, one needs an essential reading of the NCERT Books for UPSC, along with the basic UPSC Books such as Modern History by Bipin Chandra or A Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum Books for the UPSC Prelims.

Cripps Mission UPSC Questions

Cripps Mission can be practised through the UPSC previous year question papers, as this topic is frequently asked by the Commission. Some sample questions on Cripps Mission UPSC are as follows:

Question: With reference to the proposals of Cripps Mission, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2022)

  1. The Constituent Assembly would have members nominated by the Provincial Assemblies as well as the Princely States.
  2. Any Province, which is not prepared to accept the new Constitution would have the right to sign a separate agreement with Britain regarding its future status.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? – (a) 1 only, (b) 2 only, (c) Both 1 and 2, (d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: Both 1 and 2

Question: Which of the following is /are the proposal(s) of Cripps Mission?

  1. It offered complete independence to India.
  2. Constituent Assembly has elected members only.
  3. The making of the constitution was to be mainly in the hands of Indians.

Select the correct option using the codes given below: a) Only 2 and 3, b) Only 3, c) Only 1 and 3, d) None of the above

Answer: (d) None of the above

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