Indian National Movement

The Gandhian Era

Though Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) returned to India in 1915�after having spent more than twenty years (1893-1914) in South�Africa where he had fought and won the war against racialism�through Satyagraha and non-violence, which means became the�cardinal principles of his struggle throughout his life. Gandhi�took up the leadership of the Indian National Congress after�having launched successfully the Champaran (Bihar), the�Ahmedabad and the Kheda Satyagrahas during 1917-18 (on�Gokhale’s suggestion whom Gandhi had regarded his political�guru, Gandhi travelled around the country to see for himself�India’s people, their problems and the miserable conditions in�which they lived), Gandhi came on to the political scene of the�country and dominated and guided the Congress and its affairs�for about thirty long years.

Though the period of Gandhi’s�leadership of the Congress is usually known as the Gandhian�era, there were the other forces such as those relating to the�Muslim League, the Swarajists, the revolutionaries, Subhash�Bose and his Indian National Army, the workers, the peasants,�the communists, the hard-core nationalists, the Ambedkerites�who had, in their varying ways, contributed to the developments�during 1917-1947. The tale of our national movement was to�unfold itself, now with its own peculiar characteristic features.

XIA. Communalism: The Muslim League�and its Activities

The rise and evolution of the All-India Muslim League was�the product of the British policy of “divide and rule” as also�a reaction to the Hindu revivalism. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan�(1817-1898), who was once a champion of the Hindu-Muslim�unity, began suspecting the objective of the Indian National�Congress. The foundation of M.A.O. College, with Beck as its�principle, brought the Britishers and the Muslims closer to each�other, paving the way for the Agha Khan’s Muslim deputation to�give a memorandum for the Muslim’s separate representation�to the Viceroy at Simla in October 1906.

The birth of the AllIndian Muslim League (with Wakar-ul-Mulk as its President)�in December 1906 was the logical culmination of a political�organization for purposes, as Maulana Azad stated, of

(a)�strengthening and developing the feelings of the Muslim’s loyalty�towards the British rulers, and

(b) safeguarding the Muslim�interests/rights. The League demonstrated its approval of the�partition of Bengal (1905), and welcomed the reforms of 1909.

The 1906-Muslims League’s objectives included :

(i) creating�a sense of loyalty among the Muslim towards the British,

(ii)�safeguarding the Muslim rights,

(iii) representing the aspirations�and sentiments of the Muslims,

(iv) maintaining friendly�relations with other communities.

The friendship between the�Muslim League and the British rulers was short-lived. With the�annulment of the partition of Bengal in 1911, and the British�attitude of hostility towards Turkey in 1914-war, there arose�differences between the League and the British government.�On the other, the League and the Congress came to hold�their annual sessions not only at the same cities but also on�the same dates, bringing the two closer. The Lucknow Pact of�1916 , though brought the two organizations together, made the�Congress commit itself to League’s demand of separate electorate�for the Muslims – the union between the two did not last long.

The Mont-ford reforms (The Government of India Act, 1919)�saw the two organizations parting ways �� the distance went�on widening which ended only in the partition of the country�in 1947. The Congress, thereafter, could not overcome its policy�of appeasement towards the League. As the Muslim League�moved towards its communal stance, it came to disapprove�all that the Congress did (the non-cooperation movement of�1920-22, the Swarajists’ demand for a commission to review the�reforms of 1919) and supported what the British government�proposed. M.A. Jinnah (1876-1948), one time a Congressman,�had become the leader of the Muslim League, demanding�separate representation for the Muslims in politics and services.

As against the Nehru report of 1928, he sought:

(1) Muslims�should be given�1/3�representation in the Central Legislature

(2) Punjab and Bengal should have Muslim representation on�the population basis for 10 years.

(3) Residuary powers should�be vested in the Provincial Legislatures and not in the Centre.

Then came the Jinnah’s fourteen points which were :

(1) The�form of the future constitution of India should be federal.�The residuary power was to veste in the provinces and the�states.

(2) A uniform measure of autonomy shall be granted�to all provinces.

(3) All legislatures shall contain adequate�representation of minorities without reducing the majority in�any Province to a minority or even equality.

(4) In the Central�Legislature, the Muslim representation shall be one-third.

(5)�Re-presentation of communal groups shall continue to be means�of separate electorates.

(6) Any territorial redistribution shall not�affect the Muslim majority in Punjab, Bengal and North-West�Frontier Province.

(7) Full religious liberty shall be guaranteed�to all communities.

(8) No bill or resolution or any part thereof�shall be passed in any legislature or any elected body if�3/4th��of�all members of any community in that particular body oppose�such a bill, resolution or part thereof on the ground that it�would be injurious to be interests of that community.

(9) Sind�should be separated from the Bombay Presidency.

(10) Reforms�should be introduced in the N.W.F. Province and Baluchistan on�the same footing as in other Provinces.

(11) Provision should be�made in the constitution giving the Muslims an adequate share in�all services and in all self-governing bodies.

(12) The constitution�should embody adequate safeguards for the protection of Muslim�culture, education, language, religion etc.

(13) No cabinet either�central or provincial should be formed without there being a�proportion of at least�1/3�Muslim Ministers.

(14) No change shall�be made in the constitution of the Central Legislature except with�the concurrence of the States constituting the Indian Federation.

The League’s lukewarm attitude towards the Congress’s�’Purna Swaraj’ resolution of 1929 and Gandhi’s civil ‘disobedience�movement of 1930-1934 did not make any ground for the two�organizations together towards the Government of India Act�1935 which they had denounced, though on different reasons.�The 1937-elections held under the Act 1935 and the subsequent�Congress’s forming governments in a couple of provinces and�its resignation in 1939 with the opening of the World War II�made the League celebrate the day of deliverance. The League’s�Lahore session of 1940 made the intentions of Jinnah (especially�his two-nation theory) clear when the Pakistan resolution was�passed. In all these developments, the British blessings towards�the League’s ever-increasing demands helped the League to�attain Pakistan.

During the war as also in years following 1945,�Jinnah and the League (with riots in the name of direct action)�persistently adopted an un-compromising attitude towards any�and every scheme for solving the Indian problem. So much so,�even the Cabinet Mission Plan (1946) which offered Jinnah�a de facto Pakistan could not satisfy his ambitions. Attlee’s�statement of February, 1947 encouraged Jinnah’s designs and�’Direct Action’ became the programme of the League. The�British decision to transfer power, Jinnah’s intransigence and�his nominees’ obstructive attitude in the Interim Government�apart, the danger of wide-spread communal riots and�Mountbatten’s skilful negotiations with the Indian leaders, made the Partition of India inevitable. Consequently, on July�15,1947 , the nationalist leaders voted for the resolution to�accept Mountbatten Plan calling for Partition of India. On the�14th��of August, the Dominion of Pakistan was inaugurated by�the Governor General at Karachi.

Written by princy

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