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The Government of India Act      [1935 AD]


The British Government summoned the First Round Table Conference in London in 1930, to discuss the Simon Commission Report. The Congress boycotted it. In 1931, Viceroy Irwin persuaded the Congress to join the Second Round table conference and agreed to release all the political leaders and asked to suspend the Civil Disobedience Movement. At its Karachi session, Gandhi was chosen to represent India at the conference in September 1931.

The Karachi session was memorable for the resolution of guaranteeing Fundamental Rights to all and for the National Economic plan. It provided for Nationalisation of key industries and schemes for the welfare of workers and peasants. However, the second round table conference was a failure as no agreement was reached and the Civil Disobedience Movement was revived. Gandhi and other leaders were arrested and the movement gradually waned out. It was officially called off in May 1933 and Gandhiji withdrew from active politics.

The Third Round Table conference held in 1932, was not attended by the congress as the real Indian participation in the making of the constitution was negligible. In 1935, The Government of India Act was passed in the British parliament and provided for the establishment of an All-Indian Federation and new system of government on the basis of provincial autonomy. The Congress swept the polls in seven out of eleven provinces in July, 1937. However, the Muslim league secured less than a quarter of the seats reserved for Muslims. The Congress Ministry (1937-39) attended to the social welfare of people, released political prisoners and promoted civil liberties. However, due to the limitations of the Act of 1935, their achievements were few. In 1939, Subhash Chandra Bose, resigned his Presidentship of the Congress and founded the Forward Bloc.

The limited democracy sparked off separatist sentiments among the Muslims. The Muslim League fared miserably in the elections. Jinha - the permanent president of the league, began to spread the rumors that Muslim minority was in danger under Hindu Majority. He actively propagated the theory of two separate nations. In 1940, the league passed a resolution demanding Pakistan, by partitioning the country after Independence.

With the outbreak of World War II, Viceroy Lintlithgow, unilaterally associated India with Britain, without consulting Indian leaders. The Congress asserted that if Britain wanted the co-operation, it must give India the right of self-determination. The Britishers refused and the Congress ministers in province resigned. On October 1940, Gandhi gave the call for the limited Satyagraha, so that Britain's war effort was not seriously hampered by mass movement.

The two main world developments that forced Britain to respond to India's need were - Hitler's invasion of Russia and the sudden Japanese campaign in December 1941, which within four months, threw the British out of Malaya, Singapore, Burma and threatened to end their empire in India. In March 1942 Cripps - Labour member of the war cabinet, promised dominion status with the right of secession, but refused to allow immediate transfer of effective power to Indians. The Indian leaders in turn refused to accept mere promises for the future and termed it as a Post dated cheque.

With the failure of Cripps mission things rapidly moved towards the Quit India movement, under Gandhiji.