Wavell Plan in Shimla Conference – Provisions, History, Failure of Wavell Plan

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Wavell Plan which got its name from Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India, was first introduced in 1945 at the Shimla Conference. To decide on the Wavell Plan for the self-government of India, providing individual representations on communal bars, the Shimla Conference was summoned. The British Government replaced the Viceroy of India in October 1943. Earlier, Lord Linlithgow was the Viceroy, and later, Lord Wavell superseded him. Wavell Plan was also known as the “Breakdown Plan”.

The Wavell plan 1945 holds significance as it sought to offer full power to India and was one of the effective measures toward Independence. The Wavell Plan in the Shimla conference ultimately failed as there was no accord between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. This article provides complete information about the Wavell plan of 1945, the viceroy executive council, and its proportional representation.

Historical Background of Wavell Plan and Shimla Conference

Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India in 1943, was tasked with giving a formula for India’s future Government involving the All-India Muslim League and the INC (Indian National Congress) that would allow a smooth transition of power. Wavell Plan was introduced by Lord Wavell.

  • Lord Wavell was regarded as the most competent individual to perform this mission as he was once the commander of the Indian army and had better knowledge about the Indian scenario.
  • British empire could not maintain its overseas territories due to many socio-economic issues caused by World War II.
  • Due to this, the Government of British decided to offer India its freedom which Indians had been appealing for.
  • An increase in the revolutionary movements, along with the Quit India Movement, led to the questionable position of the British in India.

What was Wavell Plan?

The commencement of the Wavell Plan was when Lord Wavell went to London in May 1945 and discussed his theories with the Government of British. Wavell Plan was announced in the year 1945.

  • The meeting led to the formation of an official solid plan of action publicized on June 14th 1945, by the Secretary of State for India, L.S. Amery.
  • The Wavell Plan was created to break the existing political halt in India.
  • Lord Wavell dumped the recommendations due to clashes between Congress leaders and Muslim League.
  • The provisions were ultimately disbanded at the Shimla Conference.

Provisions of Wavell Plan

To discuss the following proposals with Indian heads, Wavell hailed them at Simla Conference on June 25th 1945. The Wavell Plan submitted the below provisions.

  • There must be a similar expression of high-caste Muslims and Hindus inside the Council.
  • The Indian defence system was required to remain under British control until the Indian people got full authority.
  • An individual from India can be designated as a Foreign Affairs member of the Council, but the responsibility for trade issues would be in the hands of a British commissioner.
  • Indians could become members of the Council, except Commander-in-Chief and the Viceroy.
  • The Executive Council of the Viceroy was allowed to be instantly recreated, along with increasing their members.
  • The Viceroy had the power to call a meeting and select members of the new Council, which could incorporate the leaders of the Indian National Congress and Muslim League.
  • It was believed that if the approach got the central Government’s approval, all provinces would possess the same councils of regional political leaders.
  • The modifications proposed were not biased or prejudge the vital form of the permanent Constitution in future.

What was Shimla Conference of 1945?

The Shimla conference 1945 was a gathering of 21 political leaders of India. The meeting was held in Shimla, the summer capital of British, to converse about the Wavell plan provisions.

  • The then President of the Congress, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Mohammad Ali Jinnah, were the leaders who attended the conference. To know about the list of Governor General of India, click on the provided link.
  • The conference discussion reached a possible agreement for self-rule by Indians.
  • It provided Muslims with individual expression and decreased majority powers in regions of both communities.
  • Conversations got stopped over the matter of choosing representatives from the Muslim community.
  • Jinnah declared that only the Muslim League holds the ability to represent Indian Muslims on the Executive Council.
  • He also stated a provision should be initiated demanding a two-thirds majority to clear a vote if votes were split and there was an objection from Muslims.
  • In the Executive Council of 14, Wavell had designated 6 Muslims, and the British offered the authority to Veta any proposal that was not needed.
  • Congress refused irrational demands because Muslims only constituted 25% of the total population of India.
  • Wavell finally discarded the plan, but the Muslim League refused to withdraw.
  • Lord Wavell gave the conclusion of the Shimla Conference’s failure.

Failure of Wavell Plan (1945) in Shimla Conference

In July 1945, a general election was scheduled in the United Kingdom. It gave power to the Labour Party. This party was hoping to transfer all the authorities to the Indians immediately. The failure of the Wavell Plan began when the new Government sent the Cabinet Mission to India. Other reasons for the loss of the conference were:

  • The Shimla Conference 1945 failed because neither the League nor the Congress was ready to give away their respective positions.
  • Congress considered India as a single nation, while for the Muslim League, Muslims owned their Government and were not a minority.
  • Lord Wavell and Mr Jinnah were responsible and blamed for the failure of the Wavell Plan (1945) at the Shimla Conference.
  • Lord Wavell formally charged the veto-final authority to Jinnah and made him the only representative of Muslims.
  • Wavell also converted the proposals of Cripps mission, which recognized Congress as the platform for Government discussion.
  • The actions of Lord Wavell raised Jinnah’s position similar to Gandhi’s and immensely helped the Muslim League to found their Government.
  • The actual outcome of the Shimla Conference’s failure was to maintain the position of Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim League, which was witnessed in the 1945-1946 elections.

Wavell Plan in Shimla Conference UPSC

Wavell Plan UPSC topic comes under the Modern India History Notes of the UPSC exam. Candidates should go through the topic of the Wavell Plan UPSC exam conceptually, as it can be asked in the Prelims portion of the IAS exam.

Aspirants must possess complete knowledge about the topic of the Wavell Plan at Shimla Conference as it covers the conference’s significant provisions, objectives, and failures. Candidates must comprehensively understand and learn all the relevant information linked to the Wavell Plan to score better marks in the respective section of the UPSC Exam.

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