Within the next two years, however, a dramatic change in the British attitude had taken place. This was due to two reasons.
(i) The British forces had suffered disastrous defeats in different theatres of War
(ii) The international situation became so unfavourable to Britain, with Japan almost at the doorstep of the Indian empire, that she had to seek the support of the popular forces in India.
Cripps and Mahatma Gandhi during the Second World War
The Cripps Mission wanted the Indian leaders to support and work wholeheartedly for the prosecution of the War and envisaged complete transfer of power to Indians after the War.
Negotiations, however, failed. The Indian National Congress demanded complete Indianisation of the Governor General's Executive Council. But the British rulers were not prepared to surrender the portfolio of Defence to the Indians. Gandhiji called the proposals as a postdated cheque. - The Indian Councils Act 1909, commonly known as the Minto-Morley Reforms, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that brought about a limited increase in the involvement of Indians in the government of British India.
1. Cripps Mission
2. Montague Chelmsford Report
3. Simon Commission
4. Minto-Morley Reforms
- Montague Chelmsford Report prepared in 1918 and formed the basis of the Government of India Act 1919.
- Simon Commission: The Indian Statutory Commission was a group of seven British Members of Parliament of United Kingdom that had been dispatched to India in 1928 to study constitutional reform in Britain’s most important colonial dependency.
- Cripps Mission: In March 1942, a mission headed by Stafford Cripps was sent to India with constitutional proposals to seek Indian support for the war.
Quit India Resolution
The failure of the Cripps Mission led to acute discontent in India. It exposed the intentions of the British rulers.
- The Indian Councils Act 1909, commonly known as the Minto-Morley Reforms, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that brought about a limited increase in the involvement of Indians in the government of British India.
On August 8, 1942, the All India Congress Committee passed the famous "Quit India" resolution for the immediate ending of the British rule and sanctioned "the starting of a mass struggle on nonviolent lines on the widest possible scale."
It was Gandhiji who piloted the resolution in the Congress Committee.
Another abortive effort to solve the political deadlock in Indian was made in 1945. Lord Wavell invited the leaders of all sections of political opinion. A conference was held at Shimla. The Wavel plan in its essence was the complete Indianisation of the Executive Council. The caste Hindus and Muslims were to be represented on the basis of parity.
Sir Archibald Wavell
The Congress, being a national organisation, insisted on the nomination of its representatives from all the communities. The conference met with failure because neither the Congress nor the League was prepared to deviate from the stand taken by them.
Cabinet Mission Plan
The mission consisting of three Cabinet Ministers of the British Government – Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Penthic Lawrence and A.V. Alexander – was, therefore, sent to India to resolve the political deadlock. They announced their plan regarding the future political set up of India, known as the Cabinet Mission Plan.
The Cabinet Mission of 1946 to India aimed to discuss and plan for the transfer of power from the British Government to Indian leadership, providing India with independence/Union of State. Formulated at the initiative of Clement Attlee, the Prime minister of the United Kingdom, the mission consisted of Lord Pethick-Lawrence, the Secretary of State for India, Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade, and A.V. Alexander, the First Lord of the Admiralty.
Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India, did not participate.
The Cabinet Mission’s Purpose:
- Hold preparatory discussions with elected representatives of British India and the Indian states in order to secure agreement as to the method of framing the constitution.
- Set up a Constitution Body
- Set up an Executive Council with the support of the main Indian parties.
Lord Mountbatten while proposing his plan
Indian Council Act of 1909, also called Minto-Morley Reforms, series of reform measures enacted in 1909 by the British Parliament, the main component of which directly introduced the elective principle to membership in the Imperial and Local Legislative Councils in India.
In March 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps came with a draft declaration on the proposals of the British Government, offering India a Dominion Status.
Indian Independence Act, 1947
As a result of the acceptance of the Mountbatten plan, the Indian Independence Act, 1947 was passed by the British Parliament on July 18, 1947. The main provisions of this Act are as follows:
(i) New dominions– The Act set up two dominions– India and Pakistan– from August 1947. Article 2 of the Act determined the territories of the two Dominions.
The Pakistan Dominion was to consist of Baluchistan, Sindh, West Punjab, N.W.F.P., and East Bengal, including the Sylhet district of Assam. The remaining
parts of British India were to constitute the Indian Dominion.
India and Pakistan at the time independence (Indian independence act, 1947) Note that the territory of the two States was significantly altered by the accession of the Princely States
The fate of N.W.F.P., whether it was to join Pakistan or not, was to be decided by a referendum before August 15, 1947. Similarly, a referendum was to
be held in the Sylhet district of Assam.
(ii) Governor-General– The Act provided that for each Dominion, "there shall be a Governor-General to be appointed by His Majesty for the purpose of the governance of the Dominion." The same person, unless the Legislature of each of these Dominions passed a law otherwise, could be a Governor-General of both the Dominions.
(iii) Legislatures– Until a new Constitution was framed for each Dominion, the Act made the existing Constituent Assemblies the Dominion legislatures for the time being. The Dominion legislatures were given full powers to make laws for their Dominions.
(iv) Temporary Provisions as to the Government of each Dominion– The Constituent Assembly of each Dominion was to act as Legislature of that Dominion. It was also to exercise powers for framing the Constitution of the Dominion.
Except in so far as the Constituent Assembly enacted laws, each dominion was to be governed so far as possible in accordance with the Government of India Act, 1935. However, discretionary and individual judgement powers of the Governor-General and Governors under that Act were to lapse.
(v) Indian States– The sovereignty of the British Crown over the Indian States lapsed with effect from August 15, 1947. Along with this, the treaties and agreements between his Majesty and the Indian States also lapsed. The States thus became sovereign entities. The States were given the freedom, if they so wished, to join India or Pakistan, or to remain as independent entities.
(vi) Tribal Areas– As in the case of Indian States, the treaties and agreements between His Majesty and any person having authority in the tribal areas lapsed; and so did the obligations, rights and functions of His Majesty under such agreements and treaties.
(vii) Abolition of the Office of Secretary of State for India– The office of the Secretary of State for India and his advisory board were abolished and instead the Secretary of Commonwealth Relations was to handle matters between the dominions and Great Britain.
(viii) British Monarch was no longer Emperor of India– The title Emperor of India was deleted from the Royal style of the British Monarch.
(ix) Miscellaneous– The other provisions of the Act dealt with the Civil Services, the Armed Forces, the British Forces in India, etc. The rights and privileges of the Civil Services were protected. Provision was made for division of Armed Forces and retention of the authority and jurisdiction of His Majesty over the British Forces stationed on the territories of India and Pakistan.
An Interim Government was formed on September 2, 1946. headed by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. After the elections to the Central and provincial legislatures and the Constituent Assembly in June 1946. Lord Wavell invited Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in August 1946 to consider proposals for the formation of an Interim Government at the centre.