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Struggle of Independence- IV Phase (AD 1940-1947)


The outbreak of World War II and British unilateral declaration that India is party to war, without consultation with Indian leaders in particular and its people in general, made the Congress to demand for the self government or swaraj. And this became the last nail for bargained situation for the British, either to give India’s fate to the India or face regression or boycott.

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August Offer, 8 August 1940

The Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow, issued a statement from Simla on 8 August 1940 in the response of when congress formally ask England to affirm its adherence to the goal of Independence for India which is popularly known August Offer. The following proposals were put in:

  • The establishment of an advisory war council
  • After the war a representative Indian body would be set up to frame a constitution for India.
  • Viceroy’s Executive Council would be expanded without delay.

The minorities were assured that the government would not transfer power “to any system of government whose authority is directly denied by large and powerful elements in Indian national life.”

It was the first time; the inherent right of Indians was recognised through constitutional framing and Congress confessed for the formation of constituent assembly. The Congress rejected the August Offer. Nehru said, “Dominion status concept is dead as a door nail.” Gandhi said that the declaration had widened the gulf between the nationalists and the British rulers.

Quit India Movement

In April 1942, the Cripps mission failed. Within less than four months, the third great mass struggle of the Indian people for freedom started. This struggle is known as the Quit India movement. On 8 August 1942, The All India Congress Committee, at a meeting in Bombay, passed a resolution. This resolution declared that the immediate ending of the British rule in India was an urgent necessity for the sake of India and for the success of the cause of freedom and democracy, for which the countries of the United Nations were fighting against fascist Germany, Italy and Japan. The resolution called for the withdrawal of the British power from India. Once free, it said, India with all her resources would join the war on the side of those countries who were struggling against fascist and imperialist aggression.

The resolution approved the starting of mass struggle on non-violent lines on the widest possible scale for the independence of the country. After the resolution was passed, Gandhi, in his speech said: “There is a mantra, a short one that I give you. You imprint it in your heart and let every breath of yours give an expression to it. The mantra is do or die. We shall either be free or die in the attempt”. Quit Indiaand Do or Die became the battle cries of the Indian people during the Quit India movement.

In the early hours of the morning of 9 August 1942, most of the leaders of the congress were arrested. They were lodged in prisons in different parts of the country. The congress was banned. There were hartals and processions in every part of the country. The government let loose a reign of terror and there were firings, lathi charges and arrests throughout the country. People in their anger also took to violent activities. The people attacked government property, damaged railway lines and disrupted posts and telegraphs. There were clashes with the police at many places. The government imposed restrictions on the publication of news about the movement. Many newspapers decided to close down rather than submit to the restrictions.

By the end of 1942, about 60,000 people had been jailed and hundreds killed. Among the killed were many young children and old women. In Tamluk, in Bengal, 73-year old Matangini Hazra, in Gohpur, in Assam, 13-year old Kanaklata Barua, in Patna, in Bihar, seven young students and hundreds of others were shot dead while taking part in processions.

Some parts of the country such as Balia in U.P., Tamluk in Bengal, Satara in Maharashtra, Dharwar in Karnataka and Balasore and Talcher in Orissa, were free from the British rule and the people there formed their own governments. Revolutionary activities organized by Jai Prakash Narayan, Aruna Asaf Ali, S.M. Joshi, Ram Manohar Lohia and others continued almost throughout the period of the war.

Cabinet Mission Plan

  • It came to India to make recommendations regarding constitutional reforms to be introduced in India.
  • The mission envisages the formation of a constituent assembly to frame the Constitution as well as interim Government.

Interim Government

  • On 2 September 1946, the newly-elected Constituent Assembly formed interim government Of India which was existed till 15 August 1947. The executive branch of the interim government was served by the viceroy’s executive council that was headed by the Viceroy of India.
  • It was composed by 12 members including 3 Muslims nominated by the Congress.
  • It was for the first time since the coming of British that the Government of India was in Indian’s hand.

Members of Interim Government

Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru Vice President of the Executive Council, External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations
Vallabhbhai Patel Home, Information and Broadcasting
Baldev Singh Defence
Dr. John Mithai Industries and supplies
C. Rajagopalachari Education
C.H Bhabha Works, Mines and Power
Rajendra Prasad Food and Agriculture
Asaf Ali Railways
Jagjivan Ram Labour
Liaqat Ali Finance
TT Chundrigar Commerce
Abdur Rab Nistar Communication
Gazanfar Ali khan Health   
Jogendra Nath Mandal Law

Conclusion

A major feature of the Indian nationalist movement was that while fighting for independence, it did not create any hatred against other countries including against the people of Britain. The Indian people also were aware that the policies pursued by the British rulers in India were also not in the interests of the common people of Britain. They had learned to differentiate between the rulers and the people. While they fought against the rulers, they did not have any hatred for the common people of Britain, whose support they tried to get in their struggle for independence.

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