Problems Facing the Sub Continent 1940 to 1947


Pakistan Studies 2059

Problems Facing the Sub Continent 1940 to 1947

Problems Facing the Sub Continent 1940 to 1947

Key Question 9: How successful were the attempts to find solutions to the problems facing the sub-continent in the years 1940-1947?

Quit India Movement 


• In 1939, World War II broke out.

• Lord Linlithgow, the viceroy announced India at war with Germany.

• The National Congress was disappointed at the sudden decision and refused to cooperate.

• On 8 Aug 1942, Congress announced the ‘Quit India’ Movement.

• The National Congress demanded an independent state of India immediately.

The Aftermath:

• On 9 Aug 1942, Congress was declared an unlawful body and all of its leaders were arrested.

• Following the arrest, violence broke out all over India.

• Many Indian leaders including Sapru, Jayaker and Bhai Permanand, the vice president of Mahasabha condemned Gandhi's action and the ‘Quit India’ movement.

• On 10 Aug, the President of Mahasabha adviced his followers to stop participating and supporting the ‘Quit India’ Movement.

• Majlis-e-Ahrar declared ‘Quit India’ movement unnecessary at the present critical state.

• The Muslim League and Muhammad Ali Jinnah also condemned the movement.

• Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared the movement as a ‘blackmail' to threaten the British government to win their demands as well as to pressurize them to ignore the rights of Muslims completely.

The Day of Deliverance:

• On 22 December 1939, Congress rule ended, and Muslims celebrated the conclusion of their tyranny period.

• They named it, “The Day of Deliverance”.

The Pakistan Resolution 1940


• Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was the first Muslim who declared Muslims and Hindus as two separate nations.

• Afterward, Allama Iqbal demanded a separated homeland for the Muslims of India in 1930. 

• In 1933, Chaudhry Rehmat Ali shared the same idea of a separate homeland.

• Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was an idealist, believed in Muslim-Hindu unity.

• However, the growing Congress tyranny made him realize the urgency of the situation.

• On 22nd March 1940, the historic session of Muslim League began at Minto Park, Lahore under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Key Points:

• On the first day of the session, Muhammad Ali Jinnah narrated the situations and events of the past few months.

• He also mentioned the problems faced by Muslims.

• He declared that the survival of Muslims and Hindus under a single leadership is not possible anymore.

• He suggested the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of India.

• On 23rd March 1940, based on Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s statements, Fazl-ul-Haq, the Chief Minister of Bengal passed the resolution that soon became known as “Lahore Resolution”.

• The Hindu press started referring the resolution as ‘Pakistan Resolution’ and it later became famous with the same name.

• After the Pakistan Resolution was passed, the Muslims of India were no longer seeking support from the Hindus. They set out to demand their separate homeland where their religious and cultural rights will be protected.

The Cripps Mission 1942


• The war already broke out and the British Government needed full support from India.

• However, the two major parties, the Congress and the Muslim League and their conflicting demands made it difficult.

• In 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps was sent by Britain to handle the situation by proposing new constitutional reforms.

Key Points:

• Cripps’ constitutional declaration proposed the following:

- After the conclusion of the war, general elections in the provinces will be initiated.

- Status of Dominion will be given to India after the war.

- Provinces can opt-out from the proposed Indian Federation.

• The proposal was rejected by both parties and it achieved nothing.

The Gandhi-Jinnah Talks 1944


• On 17 July 1944, Gandhi wrote a letter to Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

• In this letter, he expressed his desire to meet Jinnah.

• Muhammad Ali Jinnah after discussing with his party agreed to meet with Gandhi.

• On 19 September 1944, the famous Gandhi-Jinnah Talks started in Bombay.

Key Points:

• Gandhi told Jinnah, that he had not come to represent Hindus or the Congress.

• The talks began on 19 and ended on 24th of the same month.

• The real purpose of Gandhi was to convince Jinnah that the whole idea of a separate state is absurd.

• However, Jinnah stayed firm on his belief that the Muslims are a separate nation by any definition, and they deserve a separate state.

• On this, Gandhi proposed that first all power must be handed over to the Congress when India is free then based on the will of the people of the Muslim majority areas they will be declared as a separate state.

• Muhammad Ali Jinnah did not accept his proposal and talks ended without achieving any goal.

Lord Wavell & Simla Conference 1945


• In May 1945, Lord Wavell went to London to discuss the future of India.

• The discussion led to a formulation of an action plan that is known as the ‘Wavell Plan'.

• In June 1945, a conference was held at Simla to discuss the Wavell Plan with the major leaders of India.

Wavell’s Plan:

• Under the present constitution of the Government of India Act 1935, an Executive Council should be established to function as the Interim Government of India until the new constitution's approval.

• The Executive Council will comprise of 5 Muslims and 5 Hindus.

• Wavell’s proposed his plan and declared that the plan would only come into action if both the leading political parties of India will agree with it.

Simla Conference 1945:

• A conference was called to discuss the Wavell Plan and leaders of both the major parties i.e. Congress and Muslim League attended it.

• However, the initiation of the Conference, resultant into a deadlock when conflict arose on the representation of Muslims in the Conference.

• The Muslim League declared that it is the only party that represents the Muslims of India.

• The Muslim League demanded that all five Muslim members of the Executive Council must be from the Muslim League, however, only four were accepted.

• The fifth Muslim seat was given to Khizar Hayat Tiwana, who was the Chief Minister and Unionist On 14 July, Wavell announced the failure of the Simla Conference.

Elections of 1945 – 1946


• The general elections of 1945 – 1946 are the most significant among all events as the constitutional future of India dependent upon its results.

• The Muslim League and Congress both contested in the elections actively with two contrasting slogans.

• The Muslim League wanted a separate state for Muslims while Congress was contesting to keep it united.

The Result:

• The Muslim League experienced an extraordinary victory in the Muslim majority states.

• In the Central Assembly, the Muslim League won all 30 Muslim seats.

• In the Provincial Assembly, the Muslim League won 446 out of 496 Muslim seats.

• In Bengal, the Muslim League formed the ministry by winning 113 out of 119 Muslim seats.

• The Congress saw an equally impressive victory in the Hindu majority states.

• In NWFP, Congress defeated the Muslim League. The Muslim League managed to win only 17 out of 36 Muslim seats.

• Dr. Khan Sahib along with Congress formed the ministry in NWFP.

• In Punjab, Khizar Hayat Tiwana formed the ministry with Congress.

• Congress won 930 seats in total and won with a majority in 8 provinces.

• The results of the elections proved Muslim Leagues claims of being a sole representative of the Indian Muslims right.

Reasons for the Muslim League's Success:

• After the defeat in general election 1937, the Muslim League learned its lesson and aligned its campaign as such that more and more people understand what the party is standing for.

• The Congress Tyranny during 1937 – 1939 made the Muslims of India realized that to protect their religious and cultural rights, they must stand for themselves.

• The Muslim League campaign demanded the separate state which was an only way for common Muslims to be free from Hindu domination.

• Muhammad Ali Jinnah's role as a leader improved the Muslims' position as he did not compromise on Muslim rights during the Simla Conference and the Gandhi-Jinnah Talks.

The Cabinet Mission Plan 1946


• The British Government's attempts to maintain peace between the two major parties of India, Congress, and Muslim League failed back to back.

• The results of the general election 1945-1946, brought the two political parties in a deadlock.

• The urgency to find a solution to this deadlock was very critical by the British Government.

• Therefore, they sent a special mission to India comprising of three cabinet ministers. 

Key Points:

• Muhammad Ali Jinnah made it clear to the mission that the Muslim majority states must be grouped to form a separate country for Muslims.

• In contrary, congress opposed any idea of partition of India.

• The mission conducted a meeting in Simla with the leaders of the top party.

• In the conference, Cripps supported Congress and its idea openly.

• Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhai Patel, Abdul Kalam Azad and Abdul Ghaffar represented Congress.

• Liaquat Ali Khan, Nawab Ismail, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Abdul Rab Nishtar represented the Muslim League.

• Both parties were reluctant to accept the proposal of the other, therefore the mission formulated a plan which was as follows:

- The mission proposed to form an All Indian Commission to decide whether to have two states or one unified state after the departure of the British.

- This idea was rejected by Congress and Muslim League both.

- Congress feared that the commission will agree on partition and Muslim League feared that it might reject the idea.

- Hence, the mission failed.

• After this failure, the mission announced its final plan which is as follows:

- India will be divided into three parts.

- Hindu majority territories, Western Muslim provinces and Bengal and Assam.

- Jinnah accepted the decision, but Nehru was reluctant and stated that after the withdrawal of the British, Congress will not be bound by this plan.

- On Nehru's statement, Jinnah dropped this plan as he feared Hindu intolerance will fail this mission.

Direct Action Day 1946


• After the Cabinet Mission, Muhammad Ali Jinnah feared that the British might leave without partition.

• Jinnah feared Hindu domination and asked his fellow Indian Muslims to observe the Direct Action Day.

• The main aim of Direct Action Day was to pressurize Hindus and British for the partition by showing Muslims strength, unity and feelings towards Pakistan.


• The Direct Action Day showed Muslim unity and strength as it eventually pressurized British and Hindus to accept the partition.

• This Day was observed peacefully but in Calcutta, many Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in which around 4000 Indians were killed.

• Seeing the riots and the human loss, the British realized the need for partition for the peace of both the communities which was a crucial step towards the creation of Pakistan.

The June 3 Plan 1947


• The last viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten was advised by Lord Clement Attlee to hand over the power by 1st June 1948.

• When Mountbatten reached India, he faced problems by the conflicting demands of the two top parties of India.

• Muslim League wanted partition and Congress wanted the country to stay unified.

• When all actions to keep the country unified failed, Mountbatten worked out a partition plan.

• Congress and the Muslim League both gave their approval to the plan.

• On 3rd June 1947, the plan was issued after the approval of the British Government.

Salient Features of the Plan:

• On the midnight of 14 and 15 August 1947, India will be divided into two different states.

• Government of India Act 1935 will be modified and adopted as a temporary constitution for India and Pakistan.

• A boundary commission will be set up to demarcate the boundaries of India and Pakistan.

• Financial and military assets will be divided among India and Pakistan.

• Sindh Legislature will be given a right to vote for Pakistan.

• The NWFP’s future will be decided by a referendum.

• In Bengal and Punjab, the Muslim members in the legislative assembly will be given a right to vote for Pakistan i.e. they can join Pakistan.

• The future of Balochistan will also be decided by taking appropriate measures.

• The princely state rulers will be given an option to join India or Pakistan or remain independent.

The Radcliffe Commission and Award 1947

• The demarcation of the boundary between Muslims and non-Muslim areas was not done till 14th August 1947.

• Mountbatten appointed Sir Cyril Radcliffe as the head of the boundary commission to demarcate the borders, especially in Punjab and Bengal.

• Radcliffe’s team comprises of four assistants; two nominated by Congress and two by Muslim League.

• On 16th August 1947, the decision of the boundary commission is known as Radcliffe Award or Boundary Award was announced.

• The Radcliffe Award's decisions made the Muslim League disappointed.

• Calcutta was given to India even though it was surrounded by Muslim areas.

• Ferozpur and Gurdaspur both had Muslim majority but were also given to India in Punjab.

• Ferozpur was originally awarded to Pakistan by Radcliffe and the Muslim League had the evidence that this decision was reverted because Radcliffe was pressurized. 

• Jinnah declared the Radcliffe awards unjust and wrong, but the partition had been taken place two days earlier.

Independence Act 1947

• On 15 July 1947, the British Government passed the Indian Independence Act.

• The Act stated the partition of two dominion independent states by the names of India and Pakistan to be established by 15 August.

• Both the dominions will be able to pass any Act or Bill.

• The Government of India Act 1935 will be the temporary constitution of both dominions until replaced.

• The Princely States will be given the right to join either of the dominions.

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