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Transfer of Power in India

Transfer of Power in India

Copyright Date: 1957
Pages: 579
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    Transfer of Power in India
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    The book description for "Transfer of Power in India" is currently unavailable.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7937-3
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. PREFACE (pp. [ix]-[x])
    V. P. MENON
  3. Table of Contents (pp. [xi]-[xiv])

    On 15 August 1947 India stepped on to a new road of freedom and endeavour, no longer a dependency of the British Crown but a Dominion and a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The day marked the close of over a century and a half of British rule in India. It was during the first World War, in 1917, that the goal of British policy was for the first time authoritatively defined. It was after the conclusion of the second World War that Britain decided to hand over power to Indian hands and to withdraw. This was indeed...


    Lord Irwin’s declaration of October 1929 was received with great satisfaction by all political parties in India. The Congress leaders met in Delhi and, on 2 November, a joint statement was issued over the signatures of Gandhiji Pandit Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Mrs Annie Besant and others. Appreciation was expressed of the sincerity underlying the declaration and the obvious desire of the British Government to meet Indian opinion. The leaders hoped that they would be able to tender their co-operation to His Majesty’s Government in their effort to evolve a scheme of Dominion constitution suitable to...

  6. III WAR AND THE DEADLOCK (pp. 58-85)

    August 1939 was a month of international tension and anxiety. The peace of Europe, indeed of the whole world, hung perilously on a thread. The future of India was no less in the balance. The Congress was not long in framing its policy. On 11 August its Working Committee passed a resolution declaring that it was opposed to any imperialist war and that it was determined to resist any attempt to impose a war on India. It condemned the sending of troops to Egypt and Singapore. It protested against the prolonging of the life of the central Legislative. It protested...


    The war in Europe, after the crushing of Poland, was in a state of quiescence until April 1940, when Hitler suddenly invaded and overran Norway and Denmark. Events thereafter took a quick and dramatic turn. Holland, and Belgium surrendered, France collapsed, and the British expeditionary forces had to retreat from Dunkirk.

    The sudden disaster brought about a change of Government in Britain. In May 1940 Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamber lain as Prime Minister, and L. S. Amery succeeded the Marquess of Zetland as Secretary of State for India.

    A month later, Parliament passed the India and Burma (Emergency Provisions)...

  8. V THE GRIPPS MISSION (pp. 115-138)

    With the westward advance of Japan into Asia j the atmosphere in India deteriorated in a disturbing manner. Exaggerated fears had driven thousands of people from Calcutta and other cities and fantastic rumours were in the air. The weakness of the Far Eastern defences, especially in Malaya, had shaken public confidence and the arrival of refugees from Burma and other places, with their tales of woe and suffering, had shocked the complacence built by generations of security.

    Singapore fell on 15 February 1942; Rangoon was taken on 8 March, and in the words of Churchill, ‘the shadow of a heavy...


    There was profound disappointment in India at the failure of the Cripps Mission, and perhaps no one felt more thwarted than Rajagopalachari. Ever since the outbreak of the war, he had been indefatigable in his efforts to bring about an understanding between the Government and the Congress. After the failure of the Cripps Mission, he was convinced that progress was impossible without agreement between the Congress and the League. The gulf between them was very wide indeed, and the Congress High Command was reluctant to make any overtures to Jinnah. Nevertheless, on 23 April 1942 Rajagopalachari managed to get two...

  10. VII A NEW APPROACH (pp. 167-181)

    The breakdown of the Gandhi-Jinnah talks convinced Lord Wavell that unless His Majesty’s Government itself intervened there was no Iikelihood of arriving at any solution of the Indian problem. Meanwhile, in consultation with his advisers, he had formulated certain tentative conclusions which he decided to put before a conference of Governors. The Conference was held in August 1944. Lord Wavell told the Governors that His Majesty’s Government was preoccupied with its vast undertakings elsewhere and, so long as the war continued, had little time to devote to India’s political problems. On the other hand, the position was that Germany was...

  11. VIII THE SIMLA CONFERENCE (pp. 182-215)

    On the eve of Lord Wavell’s departure, Amery made an announcement in the House of Commons to the effect that the Viceroy had been empowered to make proposals on the composition of an interim Government in India. This naturally raised a good deal of eager expectation, particularly as (owing to the ban on Congress activities and the detention of its leaders) the political life of the country at the time was practically at a standstill. The suspense was relieved on 14 June when Lord Wavell broadcast 1 his proposals—designed, as he said, ' to ease the present political situation...

  12. [Illustrations] (pp. None)
  13. IX THE GENERAL ELECTIONS (pp. 216-235)

    Very soon after the breakdown of the Simla Conference there came a sweeping change in the political outlook. This was caused by two important events. The first was the general election in Britain; the second the surrender of Japan.

    The general election in Britain resulted in a resounding victory for the Labour Party, the first time that the Party had been able to secure a clear majority in the House of Commons. Churchill’s caretaker Government gave place to a Labour Government, with Clement Attlee as Prime Minister and Lord Pethick-Lawrence as Secretary of State for India. Nationalist opinion in India...

  14. X THE CABINET MISSION (pp. 236-255)

    The Mission of Cabinet ministers arrived in New Delhi on 24 March 1946. Their welcome had already been assured. The reference in the British Prime Minister’s speech to India’s independence had been particularly well received. The passage relating to the minority not being allowed to place a veto on the advance of the majority had aroused misgivings in the minds of the members of the Muslim League, but at a press conference on the day following the Mission’s arrival, Lord Pethick-Lawrence found an opportunity to reassure them. He observed that ‘while the Congress are representative of larger numbers, it would...

  15. [Illustrations] (pp. None)
  16. XI THE CABINET MISSION (pp. 256-279)

    When the Cabinet Mission decided to invite representatives of the Congress and the Muslim League to confer with them in Simla, it was not with any hope of securing an immediate settlement of their differences, but rather in the belief that, by bringing the two parties together, they would narrow the gap and be able eventually to effect some satisfactory compromise.

    The Conference was held in Simla. It opened on 5 May 1946 with a short address by Lord Pethick-Lawrence, followed by preliminary statements by the parties. The Conference then proceeded to deal with items of an agenda¹ which had...

  17. XII THE INTERIM GOVERNMENT (pp. 280-300)

    The Congress Working Committee’s resolution accepting the Cabinet Mission plan was submitted for ratification to the All-India Congress Committee, which met in Bombay on 6 July 1946. Strong opposition was expressed by the leaders of the Socialist Party, but the influence of Gandhiji and of the Working Committee prevailed. The resolution was ratified.

    At this session, Nehru took over the Congress presidentship, to which he had been elected a couple of months before, from Azad. In the course of his speech winding up the proceedings of the Committee, Nehru said that as far as he could see, it was not...

  18. [Illustrations] (pp. None)

    Soon after making the announcement on the formation of an interim Government the Viceroy flew to Calcutta to acquaint himself at first hand with the tragic happenings there. What he saw and learnt convinced him that if some sort of agreement between the two major communities was not brought about soon, the Calcutta happenings would be repeated with varying degrees of recklessness all over India.

    Lord Wavell was particularly struck by a point of view put forward by Khwaja Nazimuddin, who was himself a prominent Muslim League leader. The latter suggested that if the Congress would make an unequivocal statement...


    The Muslim League had decided to enter the interim Government with but one purpose — and that was not to allow the Congress to consolidate its position to the detriment of the League’s interests. Indeed, Jinnah had made this abundantly clear to the Viceroy. There could therefore be no question of the League and the Congress representatives working together as one team. Nehru’s apprehensions in this behalf had fallen on deaf ears. Nor had any condition been imposed on Jinnah to withdraw his campaign of ‘direct action’.

    In fact, the Viceroy had been determined to bring the Muslim League into the...

  21. [Illustrations] (pp. None)
  22. XV THE EVOLUTION OF A PLAN (pp. 350-370)

    Lord mountbatten arrived in Delhi on 22 March 1947. He was the thirty-fourth and last of the British Governors-General of India. Even before he was sworn in, Lord Mountbatten wrote to Gandhiji and Jinnah inviting them to Delhi for discussion. Gandhiji at that time was touring in Bihar on his mission to restore communal peace.

    On the morning of 23 March Lord Wavell left Delhi. Lord Mountbatten was sworn in the next day; he broke tradition by making a speech at the swearing-in ceremony. He said that his was not a normal Viceroyalty. His Majesty’s Government were resolved to transfer...

  23. XVI ACCEPTANCE OF THE PLAN (pp. 371-386)

    During Lord Mountbatten’s absence in England a new complication had arisen. Jinnah demanded a ‘corridor’ to link West and East Pakistan. Nehru characterized the demand as fantastic and absurd and other Congress leaders strongly opposed it. Serious doubts arose as to whether Jinnah really desired any settlement at all. The Viceroy took up the matter with him on his return to India and prevailed upon him not to persist in this demand.

    Another matter had been creating more than a ripple in the political situation. At his prayer meetings, Gandhiji had been pressing his views in favour of a United...

  24. [Illustrations] (pp. None)

    The June 3rd Plan having been accepted by the parties concerned, the next task of His Majesty’s Government and the Viceroy was to concentrate on the problem of its early implementation. There was so much to be done within such a limited time. The verdicts of the provinces had to be ascertained; parliamentary legislation had to be hurried through; if partition were decided upon, the administrative services and armed forces had to be divided, assets and liabilities to be apportioned and the boundaries in the disputed areas to be settled—all these tasks had to be carried through more or...


    Among the varied and complex problems involved in the setting up of the two Dominions there was one issue in particular over which the Congress and the League could not see eye to eye. The Government of India had been a single international personality enjoying membership of fifty-one international bodies and being bound by numerous treaties, conventions and agreements. The establishment of two independent Dominions raised the question as to which Dominion would inherit the international obligations and privileges of pre-partition India, and which would constitute the successor State so far as membership of the United Nations Organization was concerned....

  27. [Illustrations] (pp. None)

    While Delhi and the rest of India were celebrating the advent of Independence, the fate of the minorities in areas directly affected by the partition of the country was hanging perilously in the balance. The Muslim League’s ‘Direct Action’ campaign, followed by the Calcutta killing and disturbances in the Noakhali district of East Bengal and in Bihar, and further bloodshed and arson in the Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province, had already thrown the country into a dangerous state of communal frenzy. The joint appeal issued by Gandhiji and Jinnah at the instance of Lord Mountbatten, soon after the latter...

  29. XX CONCLUSION (pp. 436-442)

    Destiny seems to have linkedthe course of Indo-British relations with the month of August. It was in August 1765 that Emperor Shah Alam II formally granted theDewaniof Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the East India Company. In August 1858 was passed the ‘Act for the Better Government of India’, when British India was placed under the direct government of the Crown. August 1917 will be remembered for its famous announcement, when the British Government for the first time declared the goal of their policy in India to be responsible government. It was in August 1947 that the British...

  30. APPENDIX I Extracts from a Report of the Punjab Legislative Assembly Debates, 11 March 1941 (pp. 443-458)
  31. APPENDIX II Broadcast Speech of The Viceroy, Lord Wavell, 14 June 1945 (pp. 459-461)
  32. APPENDIX III Statement made in Parliament by The Secretary of State for India, L. S. Amery, 14 June 1945 (pp. 462-465)
  33. APPENDIX IV Statement of The Cabinet Mission and The Viceroy, 16 May 1946 (pp. 466-475)
  34. APPENDIX V The Secretary of State’s Broadcast, 16 May 1946 (pp. 476-478)
  35. APPENDIX VI Lord Wavell’s Broadcast, 17 May 1946 (pp. 479-481)
  36. APPENDIX VII Statement by Sir Stafford Cripps at a Press Conference on 16 May 1946 (pp. 482-486)
  37. APPENDIX VIII Cabinet Mission Press Conference of 17 May 1946 (pp. 487-505)
  38. APPENDIX IX Statement made by Prime Minister Attlee in the House of Commons, 20 February 1947 (pp. 506-509)
  39. APPENDIX X Statement Made by His Majesty’s Government, 3 June 1947 (pp. 510-515)
  40. APPENDIX XI The Indian Independence Act, 1947 (pp. 516-532)
  41. APPENDIX XII Congress Comments on the Draft Indian Independence Bill with Nehru’s Corrections and Signature. (pp. None)
  43. INDEX (pp. 535-543)