Gandhian era (1917-1947) Part III

Poona Pact (1932)

  • By 1930, Dr Ambedkar had become a leader of national stature championing the cause of the depressed people of the country.

  • 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.

  • According to this award, the depressed classes were considered as a separate community and as such provisions were made for separate electorates for them.

  • 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 & called as the Poona Pact.

  • Seats reserved for depressed classes increased from 71 to 147 in provincial legislative council and in central legislative council 18% of the seats increased.

Third Round Table Conference, 1932

  • Held without Congress representation as they were all imprisoned.

  • The British Government on the basis of the discussions of the 3 sessions drafted its proposals for the reform of the Indian Constitution which was embodied in the White Paper published in March 1933.

  • The White Paper was examined & approved by a joint committee of the British Parliament in Oct 1934.

  • A bill, based on the report of the committee was introduced & passed in the British Parliament as the Government of India Act of 1935.

Second World War & National Movement

  • In 1937 elections were held under the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1935. Congress Ministries were formed in 7 states of India.

  • On 1 Sep 1939 the Second World War broke out.

  • Linlithgow without consulting the people of India declared the country in the war.

  • The Congress strongly opposed it & as a mark of protest the Congress Ministries in the Provinces resigned on 12 December 1939.

  • The Muslim League celebrated that day as the Deliverance Day.

  • In March 1940 the Muslim League demanded the creation of Pakistan.

  • The Viceroy refused to accept preconditions set by the Congress i.e. a Constituent Assembly for the establishment of genuine responsible government at the centre.

  • Eventually, the British government was eager for the INC to support their war efforts. Subsequently it tried to pacify the Congress & the Indian leaders by a series of offers through the Cripps Mission & the August Offer.

Individual Satyagraha

  • During the course of the Second 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’.

  • The August Offer imagined that after the War a representative body of Indians would be set up to frame the new Constitution.

  • Gandhi was not satisfied with is offer and decided to launch Individual Satyagraha. Individual Satyagraha was limited, symbolic and non-violent in nature and 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 & imprisoned for four months. The individual Satyagraha continued for nearly 15 months.

August Offer, 1940

  • Dominoin Status in the unspecified future.

  • A post-war body to enact the Constitution.

  • To expand the Governor General’s Executive Council to give full weightage to minority opinion.

  • Rejected by the INC because there was no suggestion of the national government & because the demand for the dominion status was already discarded in favour of Poorna Swaraj.

  • But it was accepted by the Muslim League.

Cripps Mission (1942)

  • In December 1941 Japan entered the World War II & advanced towards Indian borders.

  • By March 7, 1942, Rangoon fell & Japan occupied the entire South East Asia.

  • To get the cooperation from Indians sent Sir Stanford Cripps on 23 March 1942, leader of the House of Commons came to India. This is known as Cripps Mission.

Main proposals

  • Promise of DDominion status to be granted after the war.

  • us to be granted after the war.

  • Setting up a Constitution making body for India after the war whose members would be elected by the Provincial assemblies and nominated by the rulers in case of the Princely States.

  • Any province not willing to accept the new Constitution could form a separate union & a separate Constitution.

  • New Constitution-making body & the British government would negotiate a treaty to sort out matters arising out of transfer of powers to Indian hands.


  • Major political parties of the country rejected the Cripps proposals. Gandhi called Cripp’s proposals as a “Post-dated Cheque”.

  • INC did not like the rights of the Princely States either to send their representatives to the Constituent Assembly or to stay out of the Indian Union.

  • Muslim League was also dissatisfied as its demand for Pakistan had not been conceded in the proposal.

Quit India Movement (1942-1944)

  • Also called the Vardha Proposal and the Leaderless Revolt as all the Congress leaders were in jail.

  • The All India Congress Committee met at Bombay on 8 August 1942 and passed the famous Quit India Resolution.

  • On the same day Gandhiji gave the slogan ‘Do or Die’.

  • On 9 Aug the Congress was banned & its important leaders arrested. Gandhiji was kept at the Aga Khan Palace, Poona.

  • Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, and other leaders were imprisoned in the Ahmednagar Fort

  • At this time, leadership was provided by Jayaprakash narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Achyuta and S.M. Joshi.

  • 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.

  • Strikes, demonstrations and public meetings were organised in various towns & cities. Slowly the movement reached the rural areas.

  • The most daring act of the underground movement was the establishment of the Congress Radio with Usha Mehta as its announcer.

  • In 1943, as the movement gained further momentum, there were armed attacks on government buildings in Madras and Bengal.

  • In 1944 Mahatma Gandhi was released from jail.

  • 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 & total sacrifice.

  • The Muslim League kept aloof and the Hindu Mahasabha condemned the movement.

  • The Communist Party of India also didn’t support the movement.

Indian National Army, 1942
  • During the course of the Second World War, armed revolutionary activities continued to take place & role of Subhas Chandra Bose towards such activities is incomparable.

  • The idea of the Indian National Army (INA) to liberate India was originally conceived by Rasbehari Bose who had fled to Japan in 1915 & had become a Japanese citizen.

  • With the help of Mohan Singh, an Indian officer of the British Indian Army in Malaya

  • Subash Chandra Bose secretly escaped from India in January, 1941 and reached Berlin. In July 1943 he joined the INA at Singapore. There Rashbehari Bose handed over the leadership to him.

  • Two INA headquarters were Rangoon and Singapore.

  • The names of the INA’s 3 Brigades were the Subhas Brigade, Gandhi Brigade & Nehru Brigade.

  • The women’s wing of the army was named after Rani Lakshmibai.

  • The Indian National Army marched towards Imphal after registering its victory over Kohima.

  • It annexed Andaman and Nicobar islands with Japanese help and named them ‘Shaheed’ and ‘Swaraj’.

  • After Japan’s surrender in 1945, the INA failed in its efforts.

  • The trial of the soldiers of INA was held at Red Fort in Delhi.

  • Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai & Tej Bahadur Sapru fought the case on behalf of the soldiers.

  • INA Day was celebrated on 12 November, 1945.

Naval Mutiny, 1945
  • A revolt took place in HMS Talwar on February 18, 1945 in Bombay due to racial discrimination, unpalatable food & abuse after arrest of B.C. Dutta who had written ‘British Quit India’ on the wall.

  • Next day, HMS Hindustan in Karachi also revolted.

  • Soon the revolt spread to other places also & In Bombay the mutineers hoisted the tricolor on their ship masts together with a portrait of S.C. Bose & shouted “Jai Hind” in the barracks.

  • Demanded the release of all political prisoners including those belonging to the INA.

  • Finally mutiny was suppressed after persuasion by the Indian leaders.

Rajagopalachari Formula, 1945
  • Proposed that voting should be held in close districts of North West & East where Muslims were in absolute majority.

  • If the majority decides in favour of forming a separate sovereign state, such decision could be accepted.

  • Jinnah objected to the proposal as he wanted only Muslims of North West & East of India to vote.

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 & the framing of a Constitution for India were conceded.

  • Accordingly, 3 members of the British Cabinet – Pathick Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps & A. V. Alexander – were sent to India & this was known as the Cabinet Mission.

  • It put forward a plan for solution of the constitutional problem. & Provision was made for 3 groups of provinces to possess their separate constitutions.

  • Also proposed the formation of a Union of India, comprising both the British India & the Princely States.

  • 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.

Mountbatten Plan, 1947

  • On 20 February l947, Prime Minister Atlee announced the transfer power to responsible Indian hands by a date not later than June 1948.

  • Thus, to effect the transference of that power Atlee decided to send Lord Mountbatten as Viceroy to India.

  • Lord Mountbatten armed with vast powers became India’s Viceroy on 24 March 1947.

  • The partition of India & the creation of Pakistan appeared necessary to him.

  • After extensive consultation Lord Mountbatten put forth the plan of partition of India on 3 June 1947.

  • The Congress and the Muslim League ultimately approved the Mountbatten Plan.

Indian Independence Act 1947
  • The British Government accorded formal approval to the Mountbatten Plan by enacting the Indian Independence Act on 18 July 1947.

Salient features:

  • The partition of the country into India & Pakistan would come into effect from 15 Aug 1947.

  • The British Government would transfer all powers to these two Dominions.

  • A Boundary Commission would demarcate the boundaries of the provinces of the Punjab and Bengal.

Radcliff Boundary Commission

  • Drew the boundary line separating India & Pakistan.

  • On 15th Aug 1947 India, & on the 14th August Pakistan came into existence as two independent states.

  • Lord Mountbatten was made the first Governor General of Independent India, whereas Mohammad Ali Jinnah became the first Governor General of Pakistan.

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