Pakistan Movement in the years 1927 to 1939


Pakistan Studies 2059

Pakistan Movement in the years 1927 to 1939

Pakistan Movement in the years 1927 to 1939

Key Question 8: How successful was the Pakistan Movement in the years 1927 - 1939?

Simon Commission 1927-1930


• The Government of India Act of 1919 proposed for reforms after every ten years.

• In 1927, Lord Birkenhead, Secretary of State India wanted an early reform.

• To prepare a report for new reforms, he sent a seven-member commission under the leadership of Sir Simon John.

• The reason for an early reform was linked with his fear of giving too much power to the Labour government if took a seat in the office.

• Lord Birkenhead faced opposition in the commission because he was suggesting entirely British commission with no Indian representation.

• Moreover, Sir John Simon, also wanted the reforms to move forward with a slow speed.

• But Lord Birkenhead explained that if they give seats to the Indians, they will gain power and there will be no decision will come to an agreement.

•  Lord Birkenhead also appointed other members after careful consideration making sure the Indians are not given too much favor and to stall their self-government demands further.

Recommendations by the Simon Commission:

• The National Congress boycotted the Simon Commission because of no representation by the Indians.

• Many from Muslim League also boycotted it, however, a section led by Mian Muhammad Shafi fully cooperated with the commission.

• In 1930, the commission completed its work and made the following recommendations:

- The report suggested the abolition of the Diarchy System.

- Separated electorates for Muslims were announced.

- Muslims demand for the separation of Sindh and reforms for NWFP was postponed but not rejected.

- Muslims demand for one-third seats in Central Legislative was rejected.

• The recommendations made by the Simon Commission enraged Congress and they launched the Civil Disobedience Movement against it.

• The Muslim League made sure to not get involved in the movement.

• Nehru and Gandhi were arrested.

The Nehru Report 1928


• In response to the recommendations made by the Simon Commission, in 1928 a committee was set up under the leadership of Motilal Nehru by All Parties Conference.

• The Congress boycott the Simon Commission and welcomed them with black flags.

• The Muslim League was divided into two sections.

• The President of Muslim League, Muhammad Shafi decided to cooperate with the commission.

• In contrary, another section of the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah participated in the boycott.

• The Muslim League and Congress worked together, the goal of this committee was to come up with constitutional reforms that are suitable for both Muslims and Hindus so that they can represent the proposal to the British Government.

The Proposal by Nehru Committee:

• The right to vote for every man and woman.

• An All-India Parliament should be established with two houses.

• No extra seats for Muslims.

• India should be given the status of a colony with self-government.

• Muslims can have one-fourth seats in the Central Legislature.

• There will be religious liberty with no need for separate electorates for Minorities.

• NWFP should be given full provisional status.

• Hindi should be made the official language of India.

Muslims League’s Response:

• In the proposal by the Nehru Committee, the Muslims were completely ignored.

• Therefore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah suggested four main changes to be made to make the proposal acceptable for Muslims also:

- Reserved seats for Muslims based on population in Punjab and Bengal.

- One-third seats for Muslims in the Central Parliament.

- Sindh and NWFP to be given full provisional status.

- The provinces should have the residuary power.

• The Nehru Committee rejected these proposed changes by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

• This reaction came as a transitional phase for Jinnah as he was an idealist who believed Hindu-Muslim unity.

Jinnah’s 14 Points 1929


• In 1929, in response to the Nehru Report, Muhammad Ali Jinnah proposed his famous ‘14 points’.

Fourteen Points:

• The residuary power will be given to the provinces and the future constitution will be federal.

• All provinces shall be granted autonomy of uniform measures. 

• There shall be an adequate and effective representation of minorities in all legislature and elected bodies of the country.

• The separate electorate will continue.

• Sindh will be separated from Bombay and shall be treated will all provisional rights.

• There shall be one-third seats for the Muslims in the Central Legislative.

• Full religious liberty shall be given to all the communities.

• The NWFP and Balochistan shall be given full provisional rights.

• The boundary changes shall not affect the Muslim minorities in Bengal, Punjab, and NWFP.

• Muslims shall have equal job opportunities in the governmental sector.

• No cabinet shall be formed whether provisional or central without one-third representation by the Muslims.

• The Muslim rights including their culture, language, education, and religion must be protected by the constitution and their charity must receive proper grants.

• The Central Legislative shall not make any changes to the constitution without the agreement of the State constituting India.

• No law can be passed regarding any religious community unless on-third people of that group's legislature vote in agreement.

Allama Iqbal’s Allahabad Address 1930


• Following Jinnah’s fourteen points, the Muslims of India became confident and fully aware of their distinct identity as a nation.

• Besides Jinnah, many other Muslim leaders stand up and asked for a separate nation.

• In 1930, Allama Muhammad Iqbal in his presidential address at Allahabad gave the clearest explanation about the Indian Muslims' feelings.  

The Address:

• He discussed the political conditions in the subcontinent.

• In his address, Iqbal explained why Islam is a major formative factor and a complete code of life in the lives of Indian Muslims.

• He justified why Muslims must be considered as a separate nation with arguments.

• He addressed that to maintain peace, the Muslim majority states must be given the same privileges as the Hindu majority areas to practice their cultural and religious values with full freedom.

• He proposed that Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan, and Punjab must be group together and given a separate national status within or outside the British Empire.


• The demand for a separate nation was the t time made from the platform of the Muslim League.

• Iqbal was the first Muslim leader to make a demand for a separate nation for Muslims.

• His address inspired and motivated Muslims who feared their rights to practice their religion and culture.

• In 1934, Chaudhry Rahmat Ali proposed the stan scheme making Iqbal’s views as the basis.

• In 1940, it also became the basis for Pakistan resolution.

The Round Table Conferences 1930 – 1932


• In 1930, the Simon Commission report was received with resentment by both Hindus and Muslims.

• Under the leadership of Gandhi, Congress started a Civil Disobedience Movement.

• Muslim League split into two, the section led by Quaid-e-Azam also boycotted the commission.

• The British organized three Round Table Conferences in 1930, 1931 and 1932 to discuss constitutional reforms in India.

• The main aim of these Conferences was to discuss the Simon Commission report and to resolve the constitutional issues of India.

• However, these conferences failed to achieve much success in resolving constitutional problems.

First Round Table Conference:

• It was held on November 12, 1930, at London.

• Congress did not attend this conference as its leaders were in jail on account of the Civil Disobedience Movement.

• Around 89 members attended the conference.

• The prominent Muslim delegates in the conference were Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, Sir Agha Khan, Sir Muhammad Shafi, and Maulvi Fazl-i-Haq.

• In this conference, the representative government for provinces and the Federal System of government for India was successfully accepted contrary to Congress' demands of ‘Unitary Form' of government.

• In comparison, this conference was more successful than the other two.

Second Round Table Conference:

• On September 7, 1931, the Second Round Table Conference was held in London.

• Congress attended this congress on Lord Irwin’s invitation to Gandhi.

• Gandhi declared that only the National Congress has the right to speak on behalf of the Indian people.

• Gandhi also emphasized that there are no minority problems in India.

• However, Muslims and other minorities’ leaders disagreed with him.

• The second conference did not achieve much success because of Congress’ attitude and minorities problems remained unresolved.

• The only success that it achieved was that Sindh, Orissa, and NWFP will have full provincial status.

Third Round Table Conference:

• The Third Round Table Conference was short and did not achieve anything of significance.

• It was held in November in London.

• The Labour Association, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Congress were absent from it.

The Communal Award 1932

• The British Government gave the Indian leadership time to come up with a solution to resolve communal issues, but they failed.

• In 1932, Ramsay MacDonald, the Prime Minister of Britain introduced his scheme to resolve the issues termed as the ‘Communal Award’.

• Ramsay’s Communal Award retained separate electorates for Muslims.

• However, the seats in the Muslim majority areas such as Punjab and Bengal were reduced.

• Both the Muslim League and Congress were unhappy with the scheme but Muslim League despite its shortcomings accepted it.

The Government of India Act 1935


• After the Round Table Conferences failed to achieve a successful outcome, a joint committee was established to propose a new set of reforms.

• Under the leadership of Lord Linlithgow, the committee spent one and a half year to complete the bill.

• The bill was then discussed in the House of Commons and the House of Lords for 43 and 13 days respectively.

• In July 1935, after approval, it was enforced as the Government of India Act 1935.

Main Features:

• A federal system for the government was promised for India.

• Full-spectrum powers remained for the Governor-General concerning finance, legal and legislature.

• In the Central Legislature without Governor General’s agreement and consent, any finance bill cannot be placed.

• The Federal Legislature will comprise of two houses i.e. Federal Assembly and Council of State.

• The Council of State will have 260 members, 104 to be nominated by the princely states and 156 to be elected.

• The Federal Assembly will have 375 members, 250 to be elected and 125 to be nominated by the princely states.

• Advisors were placed to help the Secretary of State instead of the Indian Council.

• The Secretary of State cannot interfere in the Governor General’s matters and work.

• The Diarchy system in the provinces was dropped.

• Full provincial status, authority, and power were given to provinces.

• Orissa and Sindh were declared as provinces.

• Separate electorates for minorities remained.

• In the Central Legislature, one-third seats were reserved.

• The Reserve Bank of India was established.

• The Federal Court was established in the Center.

1937 Elections


• In 1936 – 1937, the British Government announced to hold the provincial assemblies’ elections.

• Both the Muslim League and Congress despite their rejection to the Government of India Act 1935 decided to compete in the elections.

• Congress achieved a clear victory in five provinces and the results came as a shocking blow for the Muslim League.

Reasons for Muslim League’s Defeat:

• It was the first major election of Muslim league as a mass party and it has lack of funds.

• On the contrary, Congress was old and known political party with enough funds.

• Muslims League failed to have any connection between the masses and the high-class society.

• The leaders of Muslim league became over-confident after the provincial status given in the Government of India Act 1935 and did not consider Congress a threat in Muslim majority provinces.

Congress Rule 1937 -1939


• After winning the elections, Congress leaders adopted a dictatorship attitude to impose their will on Muslims.

• All Congress ministries were formed because the Muslim League rejected their unfair demands.

• They took offices in eight provinces including NWFP and Bengal.

Steps Taken by Congress:

• Congress started imposing its will on minorities as soon as it took the offices.

• The Muslims were forbidden to slaughter ‘mother cow’ and were not allowed to eat beef.

• Hindi was announced as the official language of India.

• Azaan was banned, and during prayer intended noisy processions were passed.

• Mosques were also attacked during the prayer time.

• Congress adopted Bande Matram as the national anthem and insisted on the commencement of the day with this song i.e. uses inappropriate remarks regarding Islam and Muslims.

• Widdia Mandir Policy was introduced in the educational institutes that were intended to convert students to Hinduism. 

• During the Congress rule, the Muslims faced many hardships, their homes were set on fire and women and children were abducted.

• Even a Muslim mass contact campaign was initiated that was focused on removing the Muslim League and winning the Muslim masses over to Congress.

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