Round Table Conference – Second and Third Round Table Conference

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Labour government formed under Ramsay MacDonald in 1929 found the Simon report inadequate. This led to a decision to have round table conferences in London in response to the Simon report.

The first round table conference was conducted from 12 November 1930 to 19 January 1931. The majority of the leaders from the Indian National Congress could not participate in this conference due to Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience movement. However, the results obtained from the 1st round table conference were minimal.

There was a total of three round table conferences – first, second, and third. The round table conference UPSC topic is part of modern Indian history in the IAS syllabus and a significant part of Indian history. Read this article till the end to get a detailed account of all three conferences held between the Indian independence activists and the British government.

What is Round Table Conference?

Round Table conference is actually a series of conferences held between the British government and Indian political personalities to maintain peace in the country and bring out constitutional reforms in India. In Indian history, the British administration convened the Round Table Conference in three sessions between 1930 and 1932. The meetings were a product of the Simon Commission’s assessment of the Government of India Act 1919, whose report was released in 1930. The meetings took place in London.

Round Table Conference Dates

The round table conference dates for the first, second, and third meetings are as follows:

  • The first Round Table Conference was held between November 12, 1930, to January 19, 1931.
  • The 2nd round table was held between 7 September and 1 December 1931.
  • The 3rd round table conference was held between November 17 to December 24, 1932.

History of Round Table Conference

A total of three round table conferences were held altogether. The Indian National Council did not attend the first and last conferences. In fact, during the conference, there was a movement going on in India named the Civil Disobedience Movement.

  • Demands for India to be given Dominion status were growing in some sectors of the British political system.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was spearheading the fight for Purna Swaraj while the liberation movement in India was in full swing.
  • For the very first time, the Indians and British interacted as equals. The inaugural round table conference started on 12th November 1930. Although Congress and other notable business figures declined to attend the meeting, numerous other Indian organizations were present.

First Round Table Conference

The British administration held three round table conferences to consider constitutional changes in India, between 1930 to 1932, the first of which was held in 1930. The 1930 report of the Simon Commission was followed during these conferences.

The first Round Table Conference was formally launched by British King George V on 12th November 1930 in London at the House of Lords under the leadership of Ramsay McDonald, who was the prime minister of the country at that time.

Second Round Table Conference

Congress abstained from the first Round Table conference, which was not successful at all. The Gandhi-Irwin pact, which was reached between Viceroy Lord Irwin and Mahatma Gandhi in response to some requests, led the Congress to the second round table conference. The meeting of the 2nd round table commenced on 7th September 1931. During this period, McDonald was heading a coalition political alliance with a majority and Samuel Hoare was the Secretary of State for India.

There were many differences between the first and second round table conferences on the grounds of representation of the Indian National Congress, the Government of Britain, the finances, etc.

Participants of Second Round Table Conference

As compared to the first conference, the second round table conference was attended by some intellectual and political leaders along with the Indian National Congress.

  • The British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald along with the heads of other political parties joined the conference.
  • Maharajas and rulers of many princely states were part of the second round table conference.
  • There were many representatives of the British Indian group. However, the Indian National Congress was solely represented by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Many specific community representatives also joined the conference, like Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mohammed Iqbal, and Mohammad Zafarullah Khan were the Muslim representatives at the 2nd Round Table Conference.
  • Deewan Bahadur Raja Narendra Nath, B.S. Moonje were among the Hindu representatives.
  • Bhim Rao Ambedkar was the representative of the Depressed Classes.
  • Sarojini Naidu and Radhabai Subramanian were the women representatives.
  • There were many other representatives from Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, the Justice Party, the Liberal Party, etc.

Outcome of Second Round Table Conference

The second round table conference could not produce any meaningful conclusion about the status of India because there was no consensus between the diverse delegate groups. The administration also refused to give into the fundamental demand for freedom made by Indians.

  • The second round table conference got underway on 7 September 1931. The Indian National Congress was present at the conference, which was a significant difference from the first RTC.
  • Another difference was that, unlike the previous time, British PM Macdonald was heading not a Labour government, but a National government. The Labour Party had been toppled two weeks before in Britain.
  • By creating distinct electorates for the minority population, the British decided to provide a communal award for representing minorities in India which was highly opposed by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • On the contrary, Bhimrao Ambedkar was quite in favour of this decision therefore, Bhimrao Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi had two different opinions on the need for separate electorates for the underprivileged section.

Third Round Table Conference

The third round table conference was the final one. It started on November 17, 1932.

Only 46 delegates participated in this conference and several prominent political figures were absent. From September 1931 through March 1933, it took place. Sir Samuel Hoare oversaw the completion of all of these tasks.

Participants of Third Round Table Conference

The number of participants in the third round table conference was comparatively lower than in the 2nd conference.

  • Only 46 delegates attended the third round table conference since the majority of political leaders could not turn up for the meeting.
  • The British Labour Party declined to participate in the conference and this time, the Indian National Congress was not invited to the conference.
  • The representative of British Indians in the 3rd conference was Aga Khan III.
  • Again, the depressed class was represented by Bhimrao Ambedkar, and this time Begum Jahanara was the representative of women, whereas the representatives of liberal delegates were the same as in the second conference.

Outcome of Third Round Table Conference

The outcome of the 3rd round table conference was also not substantial. Some recommendations were made in the third conference, which was published in a white paper in 1933, on the basis of which the Government of India Act 1935 was passed.

  • Nothing significant was addressed at the round table meeting because most of the important political leaders and rulers of princely states were not present in the third round table conference.
  • The suggestions and recommendations made at this conference were written down and considered by the British Parliament.
  • The recommendations were analysed and the Government of India Act of 1935 was passed on its basis.

Round Table Conference UPSC

There are a total of three round table conferences held in the Modern History of India. The candidates preparing to appear for the UPSC exam should have a strong grip over the subjects and especially important events in modern Indian history. You can get the complete syllabus of history at our website and some UPSC previous year question papers along with that for reference purposes.

It is really important to have an idea of the type of questions being asked in the exam. This is because, in modern Indian history, the topics are quite confusing due to the number of dates and events. That is why the following two sample questions on Round Table Conference UPSC are provided for your reference.

Q1. Consider the following statements [Prelims 2005]

  1. In the first Round table conference, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar demanded separate electorates for the depressed classes.
  2. In the Poona pact, special provisions for the representation of depressed people in the local bodies and civil services were made.
  3. The Indian National Congress did not take part in the third round table conference.

Choose the correct code from the options given below

  1. One and two only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2, and 3

Answer- Option C

Q2. Who was the representative of Christians at the first Round table conference?

  1. Rao Bahadur Shrinivas
  2. Sir Akbar Haidari
  3. Sir A.P. Petro
  4. K.T. Paul

Answer- Option D

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