[Solved ] Assess the role of British imperial power in complicating the process of transfer of power during 1940s ( UPSC GS-1 Mains 2019)

Initially, the British did not pay any attention to the demand of transfer of power by India, but when World War II started, Britain came under immense pressure, as it needed full Indian support. British came up with different plans and mission in 1940s. But these plans were not made with noble intention in favour of India, hence making the process of transfer of the power difficult.

 Why it complicated the process of transfer of power Cripps Mission- 1942

 The main proposals of the mission were as follows: •An Indian Union with a dominion status would be set up; it would be free to decide its relations with the Commonwealth and free to participate in the United Nations and other international bodies.

 •After the end of the war, a constituent assembly would be convened to frame a new constitution. Members of this assembly would be partly elected by the provincial assemblies through proportional representation and partly nominated by the princes.

 The British government would accept the new  constitution subject to two conditions:

  • Any province not willing to join the Union could have a separate constitution and form a separate Union, and
  • The new constitution- making body and the British government would negotiate a treaty to affect the transfer of power and to safeguard racial and
  • religious minorities.
  • In the meantime, defence of India would remain in British hands and the Governor-General’s powers would remain intact.

 Various parties and groups had objections to the proposals on different points:

 (i)The Congress objected to the offer of dominion status instead of a provision for complete independence (ii)Representation of the princely states by nominees and not by elected representatives;

 (iii)Right to provinces to secede as this went against the Principle of national unity; and absence of any plan for immediate transfer of power and absence of any real share in defence; the Governor-

 General’s supremacy had been retained, and the  demand that the Governor-General be only the constitutional head had not been accepted.

 The main proposals of the Wavell Plan were as follows:

 •With the exception of the Governor-General and the commander-in-chief, all members of the executive council were to be Indians.

 •Caste Hindus and Muslims were to have equal representation.

 •The reconstructed council was to function as an interim government within the framework of the 1935 Act (i.e. not responsible to the Central Assembly).

 •The Governor-General was to exercise his veto on the advice of ministers. Representatives of different parties were to submit a joint list to the viceroy for nominations to the executive council. If a joint list was not possible, then separate lists were to be submitted.

 •Possibilities were to be kept open for negotiations on a new constitution once the war was finally won.

 Why Wavell Plan complicated the process of transfer of power Congress Stand

 •The Congress objected to the plan as an attempt to reduce the Congress to the status of a purely caste Hindu party.

 •It insisted on its right to include members of all communities among its nominees.

 Muslim League’s Stand

 •The League wanted all Muslim members to be League nominees, because it feared that since the aims of other minorities– depressed classes; Sikhs, Christians, etc.— were the same as those of the Congress, and this arrangement would reduce the League to a one-third minority.

 •The League claimed some kind of veto in the council with decisions opposed to the Muslims needing a twothird majority for approval.

 Cripps Mission- 1942:

 The main proposals of the mission were as follows: • An Indian Union with a dominion status would be set up; it would be free to decide its relations with the Commonwealth and free to participate in the United Nations and other international bodies.

 • After the end of the war, a constituent assembly would be convened to frame a new constitution.

 Members of this assembly would be partly elected by the provincial assemblies through proportional representation and partly nominated by the princes.

 • The British government would accept the new constitution subject to two conditions:

  • Any province not willing to join the Union could have a separate constitution and form a separate Union, and
  • The new constitution- making body and the British government would negotiate a treaty to affect the transfer of power and to safeguard racial and religious minorities.
  • In the meantime, defence of India would remain in British hands and the governor-general’s powers would remain intact.
  • Various parties and groups had objections to the proposals on different points: i. The Congress objected to the offer of dominion status instead of a provision for complete independence;
  • ii. Representation of the princely states by nominees and not by elected representatives; iii. right to provinces to secede as this went against the Principle of national unity; and absence of any plan for immediate transfer of power and absence of any real share in defence; the governor-general’s supremacy had been retained, and the demand that the governor-general be only the constitutional head had not been accepted.

 The main proposals of the Wavell Plan were as follows:

• With the exception of the governor-general and the commander-in-chief, all members of the executive council were to be Indians.

 • Caste Hindus and Muslims were to have equal representation.

 • The reconstructed council was to function as an interim government within the framework of the 1935 Act (i.e. not responsible to the Central Assembly).

 • The governor-general was to exercise his veto on the advice of ministers. Representatives of different parties were to submit a joint list to the viceroy for nominations to the executive council.

 If a joint list was not possible, then separate lists were to be submitted.

 • Possibilities were to be kept open for negotiations on a new constitution once the war was finally Why Wavell Plan complicated the process of transfer of power: Congress Stand:

 • The Congress objected to the plan as “an attempt to reduce the Congress to the status of a purely caste Hindu party.

 • It insisted on its right to include members of all communities among its nominees”.

 Muslim League’s Stand:

 • The League wanted all Muslim members to be League nominees, because it feared that since the aims of other minorities—depressed classes; Sikhs, Christians, etc.—were the same as those of the Congress, and this arrangement would reduce the League to a one-third minority. (Wavell wanted Khizr Hyat Khan as the Muslim representative from Western Punjab.) • The League claimed some kind of veto in the council with decisions opposed to Muslims needing a two-thirds majority for approval.

Wavell Plan (1945)

• The Conservative government in Britain led by Churchill was keen to reach a solution on the constitutional question in India

• This plan attempted at reducing Congress to the status of purely caste Hindu party

• Wavell announcing to break talks, gave Muslim league Virtual Veto and strengthened their position

• All these exposed real character of the British Government

▪ Change in Governmental Attitude now

• The more sympathetic Labour Party Government in Britain, announced that a

Constituent assembly would be convened after Elections

• The British had to retreat now as there was shift in Balance of power after World war 2, and because of the tumultuous Indian crowd impatient to do something.

The Cabinet Mission (1946)

• The British withdrawal seemed imminent now as they realized that a settlement was necessary for burying the ghost of mass movement and for good future Indo-British relations

• The mission provided for Grouping of assemblies into three sections, which led tocdifferent interpretation by the Congress and Muslim league , which again caused deadlock in assembly

• As a result of all this, the Muslim League gave a call for ‘Direct Action’ to achieve

Pakistan’ led to Communal Riots on an unprecedented scale.

• the Muslim league took up an Obstructionist Approach with Ulterior motives

▪ Attlee’s statement, February 1947

• The British seeing the trouble all around, declared their intention of leaving the Indian

Subcontinent

• The British did not want to solve the crisis created by them, and shouldered no

responsibility for the prevailing conditions; Instead the British Fixed a deadline of June

30, 1948 for transfer of power

• The statement also contained clear hints of Partition along with Balkanization of the

country into numerous states

▪ Mountbatten Plan, June 3, 1947

• freedom-with-partition formula was coming to be accepted

• The plan allowed for referendum along the border provinces of India-Pakistan, and the

immediate results announced by the British led to confusions and large scalemigration of people along borders

• The plan provided for power transfer through Dominion status to two entities, to

resolve constitutional deadlock

• This way of power Transfer would allow the British to escape the responsibility

for the communal situation

• The Boundary Commissions were set up to demarcate boundaries between two

countries’ provinces

 Conclusion: The end of colonial rule in 1947 was undoubtedly a defining moment in the modern South Asian history. Though it was difficult due to the British policies in 1940s for transfer of power, the event can be treated as the twin process of independence and partition – both affecting the future trajectories of the two nations.

For latest Articles [Paper wise GS 1-4] and Solved papers join us @ https://t.me/UPSCexamNotes1

For solved

UPSC ESSAYS click here

GS Paper 1 click here


Gs Paper 2 click here

Gs paper 3 click here

GS paper 4 click here

Sociology click here

Entertainment click here

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: