GS-1 (Mains), Modern History, Prelims Booster

(MH-3) Modern History – Quick Revision Series Part-3

Modern History

National Movement: Towards Freedom & Partition (1939-1947)

1. Second World War and Nationalist Response

Sept 1, 1939: Germany attacks Poland, WW-2 starts.

Sept 3, 1939: Britain declares war against Germany and declares India’s support for war without consulting Indian opinion.

Congress will cooperate in war if
-> Freedom was given after the war.
-> Some form of genuinely responsible govt was immediately set up.

Sept 10-14, 1939: At CWC meeting at wardha:

-> Gandhi – for unconditional support.
-> Netaji Bose & Leftists – for taking advantage.
-> Nehru – Neutral.
The CWC resolution No participation unless freedom is granted.


2. Linlithgow’s Statement
-> Britain’s war aim is to resist aggression.
-> All interest groups to be consulted to modify 1935 Act for future.
-> Immediately a consultative committee to be formed for advising functions.


3. Congress Response
-> Rejected the proposal as a reiteration of the old imperialist policy,
-> No Indian support to the war.
-> Congress ministries in provinces to resign.
-> But no immediate mass struggle to be launched.


4. Pakistan Resolution Lahore (Mar 1940)
-> “Pakistan Resolution” passed at Lahore Session of Muslim League.


5. August Offer (Aug 1940)
To get Indian cooperation in the war effort, the Viceroy announced August Offer.
-> Dominion status offered.
-> After the War, constituent assembly to be formed comprising mainly Indian.
-> Minorities’ consent to be essential for any future settlement.
Congress rejected the offer.


6. Individual Satyagrahas (Oct 1940)
-> launched to show the dissatisfaction to the August Offer.
-> 1st- Vinoba Bhave & 2nd- JL Nehru
-> To show that nationalist patience was not due to weakness.
-> To express people’s feeling that they were not interested in the war.


7. Cripps Mission (March 1942) – FAILED
Sent due to Japanese threat to seek Indian support for the war.
-> An Indian union with dominion status, with right to withdraw from Commonwealth.
-> After war, a constituent assembly elected by Provincial assemblies to frame the constitution.
-> Any Province not willing to join the union could have a separate constitution & form a separate union.
-> Meanwhile, defence of India to remain in British hands.

The Congress Objected to
-> Dominion Status
-> Right to provinces to secede
-> No immediate transfer of power
-> Retention of GG’s supremacy.

The ML objected to – 
-> Pakistan not being explicitly offered
-> Machinery for creation of CA.


8. Quit India Movement (Aug 1942)

Why Now
-> Failure of Cripps Offer an evidence of British lack of will to concede Indian demands.
-> Public discontent against wartime hardship.
-> Feeling of imminent British collapse.
-> Indian leadership’s desire to prepare masses for possible japanese invasion.

AICC Meeting- Gowalia Tank, Bombay
Quit India Resolution ratified.

Aug 9, 1942: All prominent leaders arrested.

Major Activities
-> Public on rampage- especially Eastern UP, Bihar, Bengal- attacking symbols of Authority.
-> Underground activity to provide a line of command.
-> Parallel governments in Ballia(UP), Tamluk(Bengal) & Satara(MH).
-> Sections participating included youth, women, workers, peasants, govt officials, some communists.

Feb 1943: Gandhi started a fast against the violence of the state.

March 23, 1943: Pakistan Day observed.

Famine of 1943: man-made famine.


9. Rajagopalachari Formula (March 1944)

  1. ML to endorse Congress demand for independence.
  2. League to cooperate with Congress in forming provisional govt at centre.
  3. After the war, Plebiscite will decide whether or not to form a separate sovereign state.
  4. In case of partition, Common centre for defence, commerce, communications, etc.
  5. Applicable only if England transferred full powers to India.


10. Desai-Liaqat Pact

  1. Congress & League nominees to have equal representation in Central Executive.
  2. Liaqat Ali gave up his demand for a separate Muslim State on the return of parity in the council.
  3. 20% seats reserved for Minorities.


11. Wavell Plan (Shimla Conference– June 1945)

  1. With exception of GG & CIC, all members of the executive council were to be Indians.
  2. Caste Hindus & Muslims were to have equal representation.
  3. ML wanted all Muslims to be its nominees & claimed a communal veto in the executive council.
  4. Congress objected to it being painted purely as a Caste Hindu Party.

Wavell’s Mistake: Virtual Veto to ML, which strengthened League’s position(in 1945-46 elections); and exposed the real character of Conservative govt of Churchill.


12. Indian National Army (INA)

Phase 1: Indian POWs handed over to Mohan Singh to recruit them into INA.

  • Serious differences emerged between INA & Mohan Singh.
  • As Mohan Singh wanted to raise an army of 2 lakh, whereas Japanese wanted a token force of 2000.

Phase 2: Netaji Bose + assisted by Rashbehari Bose & Others in Singapore.

  • Set up Provisional Indian Government with HQ @ Rangoon & Singapore.
  • Women Regiment called Rani Jhansi Regiment formed.

When INA POWs brought back by Britishers to India after the war to court-martialled, a powerful movement emerged in their defence.


13. Last 2 years of British Rule

Two Basic Strands

  1. Tortuous negotiations resulting in freedom & partition, accompanied by communal violence.
  2. Sporadic, localised mass action.

July 1945: Labour govt comes to power in Britain.

Aug 1945: Elections to Central & Provincial Assemblies announced.

Sep 1945: Announcement of a Constituent Assembly after war.

Change in Government’s Attitude due to 

  1. Change in global power equation; UK no longer a power.
  2. Labour govt sympathetic to India.
  3. Tired British soldiers & shattered British economy.
  4. Anti-imperialist wave throughout Asia.
  5. Officials feared another Congress revolt.

Two Main Election Planks for Congress

  1. Repression of 1942 (expressed in election campaign to glorify martyrs & condemnation of officials)
  2. Mass pressure against trial of INA POWs.


14. INA Agitation

  1. Had unprecedented high pitch & intensity for the release of INA prisoners.
  2. Had wide geographical & social spread.
  3. Pro-INA surfaced in traditional bulwarks of the British Raj-govt employees & loyalists.


15. Three Upsurges Winter of 1945-46

National sentiment of INA trials developed into violent confrontations with the authorities.

Stage 1: (Nov 21, 1945) In Calcutta over INA trials.

Stage 2: (Feb 11, 1946) In Calcutta over 7-yr sentence to an INA officer.

Stage 3: (Feb 18, 1946) In Bombay, strike by Royal Indian Navy Ratings.

  • Congress did not support these upsurges because of their timing & tactics.


16. Why British Withdrawal Seemed Imminent by 1946

  1. Success of nationalist forces in struggle for hegemony.
  2. Demoralisation among bureaucracy & the loyalist section.
  3. Limitations of British strategy of conciliation & repression.
  4. Demands of leniency for INA by army men & RIN ratings’ revolt.
  5. An entirely official rule was impossible.

Main Aim of Govt Policy Now

  • A graceful withdrawal after settlement on modalities of transfer of power, & Post-Imperial Indo-British relations.


17. Wavell’s “Breakdown Plan(May 1946)

  • Wavell presented this plan to Cabinet mission in May 1946 => visualised a middle course between “repression” & “Scuttle”.
  • This plan envisaged the withdrawal of British Army & Officials to the Muslim provinces of N-W & N-E and handling over the rest country to the Congress. (Making a “Northern Ireland of Pakistan”).


18. Cabinet Mission (Announced on Feb 1946)

To find out ways & means for a negotiated, peaceful transfer of power to India.


  1. Pethick Lawrence– Secretary of State for India.
  2. Stafford Cripps– President of the Board of Trade.
  3. A.V. Alexander– First lord of Admiralty


  • Rejection of the demand of full-fledged Pakistan.
  • Grouping of existing provincial assemblies into three sections – Section A,B,C.
  • 3-tier executive & legislature at province, princely states & union level.
  • Provincial Assemblies to elect a Constitutional Assembly.
  • Union Of India to deal with defence, communication, external affairs.
  • Provincial autonomy with residual powers.
  • Communal questions to be decided by a Simple majority of both communities present & voting.
  • Princely states free to decide.
  • Province free to come out the union.

Different Interpretations

  • Congress claimed that the grouping was Optional,
  • While, ML thought that the grouping was Compulsory.
  • Mission decided the matter in League’s favour.


  • Both ML & Congress accepted Cabinet mission proposals in june 1946.


19. Further Development

July 1946: League withdrew from the plan after Nehru’s press statement, and gave a call for Direct Action from Aug 16, 1946.

Sep 1946: An Interim govt headed by Nehru sworn in.

Oct 1946: League joins interim govt & follows an obstructionist approach.

Feb 1947: Congress demands removal of league members; League demands dissolution of CA.


20. Atlee’s Statement (Feb 20, 1947)

  1. June 30, 1948 as deadline for transfer of power.
  2. Power may be transferred to one centre or in some areas to existing provincial governments if the Constituent Assembly was not fully representative.
  3. British powers & obligations vis-à-vis the princely states would lapse with transfer of power, but these would not be transferred to any successor government in British India.


21. Mountbatten Plan (June 3, 1947)

  1. Punjab & Bengal assemblies to take decision on partition.
  2. In case of partition, two dominions and two constituent assemblies would be created.
  3. Sindh would take its own decision.
  4. Referendum to be held in NWFP & Sylhet district.
  5. Freedom to be granted on Aug 15, 1947.
  6. A boundary commission would be set up if partition was to be effected.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s