The Indian Independence movement was a series of activities whose ultimate aim was to end the British rule in India. The movement spanned total of 90 years (1857–1947).
The first nationalistic revolutionary movement emerged from Bengal (present day West Bengal and Bangladesh), but they later took root in the newly formed Indian National congress with prominent moderate leaders seeking only their basic right to appear for Indian Civil Service (British India) examinations, as well as more rights, economic in nature, for the people of the soil. The early part of the 20th century saw a more radical approach towards political self-rule proposed by leaders such as the Lal, Bal, Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai. The last stages of the self-rule struggle from the 1920s onwards saw Congress adopt Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's policy of non-violence and civil disobedience, and several other campaigns. Nationalists like Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Bagha Jatin, preached armed revolution to achieve self-rule. Poets and writers such as Subramania Bharati, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Iqbal, Josh Malihabadi, Mohammad Ali Jouhar, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Kazi Nazrul Islam used literature, poetry and speech as a tool for political awareness. Feminists such as Sarojini Naidu and Begum Rokeya promoted the emancipation of Indian women and their participation in national politics. B. R. Ambedkar championed the cause of the disadvantaged sections of Indian society within the larger self-rule movement. The period of the Second World War saw the peak of the campaigns by the Quit India Movement led by Congress, and the Indian National Army movement led by Subhash Chandra Bose.
The Indian self-rule movement was a mass-based movement that encompassed various sections of society.
European traders first reached Indian shores with the arrival of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1498 at the port of Calicut, in search of the lucrative spice trade. Just over a century later, the Dutch and English established trading outposts on the subcontinent, with the first English trading post set up at Surat in 1613. Over the course of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the British defeated the Portuguese and Dutch militarily, but remained in conflict with the French, who had by then sought to establish themselves in the subcontinent. The decline of the Mughal Empire in the first half of the eighteenth century provided the British with the opportunity to establish a firm foothold in Indian politics. After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, during which the East India Company's Indian Army under Robert Clive defeated Siraj ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal, the Company established itself as a major player in Indian affairs, and soon afterwards gained administrative rights over the regions of Bengal, Bihar and Midnapur part of Odisha, following the Battle of Buxar in 1764. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan, most of South India came either under the Company's direct rule, or under its indirect political control as part a princely state in a subsidiary alliance. The Company subsequently gained control of regions ruled by the Maratha Empire, after defeating them in a series of wars. The Punjab was annexed in 1849, after the defeat of the Sikh armies in the First (1845–1846) and Second (1848–49) Anglo-Sikh Wars.
English was made the medium of instruction in India's schools in 1835, and many Indians increasingly disliked British rule.
Puli Thevar was one of the opponents of the British rule in India. He was in conflict with the Nawab of Arcot who was supported by the British. His prominent exploits were his confrontations with Marudhanayagam, who later rebelled against the British in the late 1750s and early 1760s. Nelkatumseval the present Tirunelveli Dist of Tamil Nadu state of India was the headquarters of Puli Thevan
Syed Mir Nisar Ali Titumir; (27 January 1782 – 19 November 1831) was an Islamic preacher who led a peasant uprising against the Hindu zamindars, British India during the 19th century. Along with his followers, he built a bamboo fort (Bansher Kella in Bengali) in Narkelberia Village, which passed into Bengali folk legend. After the storming of the fort by British soldiers, Titumir died of his wounds on 19 November 1831.
The toughest resistance the Company experienced was offered by Mysore. The Anglo–Mysore Wars were a series of wars fought in over the last three decades of the 18th century between the Kingdom of Mysore on the one hand, and the British East India Company (represented chiefly by the Madras Presidency), and Maratha Confederacy and the Nizam of Hyderabad on the other. Hyder Ali and his successor Tipu Sultan fought a war on four fronts with the British attacking from the west, south and east, while the Marathas and the Nizam's forces attacked from the north. The fourth war resulted in the overthrow of the house of Hyder Ali and Tipu (who was killed in the final war, in 1799), and the dismantlement of Mysore to the benefit of the East India Company, which won and took control of much of India.
In 1766 the Nizam of Hyderabad transferred the Northern Circars to the British authority. The independent king Jagannatha Gajapati Narayan Deo II of Paralakhemundi estate situated in today's Odisha and in the northernmost region of the then political division was continuously revolting against the French occupants since 1753 as per the Nizam's earlier handover of his estate to them on similar grounds. Narayan Deo II fought the British at Jelmur fort on 4 April 1768 and was defeated due to superior firepower of the British. He fled to the tribal hinterlands of his estate and continued his efforts against the British authority until his natural death on the Fifth of December, 1771.
Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja was one of the earliest freedom fighters in India. He was the prince regent of the princely state of Kottiyur or Cotiote in North Malabar, near Kannur, India between 1774 and 1805. He fought a guerrilla war with tribal people from Wynad supporting him. He was caught by the British and his fort was razed to the ground.
Rani Velu Nachiyar (1730–1796), was a queen of Indian Sivaganga from 1760 to 1790. She was the first queen to fight against the British in India. Rani Nachiyar was trained in war match weapons usage, martial arts like Valari, Silambam (fighting using stick), horse riding and archery. She was a scholar in many languages and she had proficiency with languages like French, English, and Urdu. When her husband, Muthuvaduganathaperiya Udaiyathevar, was killed by British soldiers and the son of the Nawab of Arcot, she was drawn into battle. She formed an army and sought an alliance with Gopala Nayaker and Hyder Ali with the aim of attacking the British, whom she did successfully fight in 1780. When Rani Velu Nachiyar found the place where the British stored their ammunition, she arranged a suicide attack: a faithful follower, Kuyili, doused herself in oil, set herself alight and walked into the storehouse. Rani Velu Nachiyar formed a woman's army named "udaiyaal" in honour of her adopted daughter, Udaiyaal, who died detonating a British arsenal. Rani Nachiyar was one of the few rulers who regained her kingdom, and ruled it for ten more years.
Veerapandiya Kattabomman was an eighteenth-century Polygar and chieftain from Panchalankurichi in Tamil Nadu, India who waged a war against the East India Company. He was captured by the British and hanged in 1799 CE. Kattabomman refused to accept the sovereignty of East India Company, and fought against them. Dheeran Chinnamalai was a Kongu chieftain and Palayakkarar from Tamil Nadu who fought against the East India Company. After Kattabomman and Tipu Sultan's deaths, Chinnamalai sought the help of Marathas and Maruthu Pandiyar to attack the British at Coimbatore in 1800. British forces managed to stop the armies of the allies and hence Chinnamalai was forced to attack Coimbatore on his own. His army was defeated and he escaped from the British forces. Chinnamalai engaged in guerrilla warfare and defeated the British in battles at Cauvery in 1801, Odanilai in 1802 and Arachalur in 1804.
In September 1804, the King of Khordha, Kalinga was deprived of the traditional rights of Jagannath Temple which was a serious shock to the King and the people of Odisha. Consequently, in October 1804 a group of armed Paiks attacked the British at Pipili. This event alarmed the British force. Jayee Rajguru, the chief of Army of Kalinga requested all the kings of the state to join hands for a common cause against the British. Rajguru was killed on 6 December 1806. After Rajguru's death, Bakshi Jagabandhu commanded an armed rebellion against the East India Company's rule in Odisha which is known as Paik Rebellion, the first Rebellion of India against the British East India Company.
The Indian rebellion of 1857 was a large-scale rebellion in the northern and central India against the British East India Company's rule.
The final spark was provided by the rumoured use of tallow (from cows) and lard (pig fat) in the newly introduced Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle cartridges. Soldiers had to bite the cartridges with their teeth before loading them into their rifles, and the reported presence of cow and pig fat was religiously offensive to both Hindu and Muslim soldiers.
Mangal Pandey, the rebel who ignited the fire for the 1857, has no basis in history, many historians believe. The revolt of 1857, it is well known, passed Bengal by and Calcutta [now Kolkata] was then too excited with the flowering of the 19th century Renaissance to have any use for mutinous sepoys. Mangal Pandey's lonely act on March 29 did not move the Bengal Army to mutiny. There is no evidence that he was in touch with Tantia Tope and Nanasaheb or that his act inspired the revolt in Meerut on May 10, a good one month after his hanging. There is also no evidence, contrary to what the film shows, that the last Mughal Emperor, the 82-year-old Bahadur Shah, had agreed to take on the leadership of the revolt before the mutiny started. The unrest of 1857 began as a mutiny by sepoys in the British Army, and it was only after it had spread to the countryside that dispossessed landlords and disgruntled former rulers came forward to lead it. And Bahadur Shah had no option but to give the endorsement of his name to the revolt after mutinous sepoys from Meerut knocked at his doors in Delhi.
Prof. Rudrangshu Mukherjee of Calcutta University wrote, Pandey was an "accidental hero".
On 10 May 1857, the sepoys at Meerut broke rank and turned on their commanding officers, killing some of them. They reached Delhi on 11 May, set the company's toll house on fire, and marched into the Red Fort, where they asked the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II, to become their leader and reclaim his throne. The emperor was reluctant at first, but eventually agreed and was proclaimed Shehenshah-e-Hindustan by the rebels. The rebels also murdered much of the European, Eurasian, and Christian population of the city.
Revolts broke out in other parts of Oudh and the North-Western Provinces as well, where civil rebellion followed the mutinies, leading to popular uprisings. The British were initially caught off-guard and were thus slow to react, but eventually responded with force. The lack of effective organisation among the rebels, coupled with the military superiority of the British, brought a rapid end to the rebellion. The British fought the main army of the rebels near Delhi, and after prolonged fighting and a siege, defeated them and retook the city on 20 September 1857. Subsequently, revolts in other centres were also crushed. The last significant battle was fought in Gwalior on 17 June 1858, during which Rani Lakshmibai was killed. Sporadic fighting and guerrilla warfare, led by Tatya Tope, continued until spring 1859, but most of the rebels were eventually subdued.
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a major turning point in the history of modern India.
In 1876, in a controversial move Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli acceded to the Queen's request and passed legislation to give Queen Victoria the additional title of Empress of India. Liberals in Britain objected that the title was foreign to British traditions.
Rise of organised movements
The decades following the Rebellion were a period of growing political awareness, manifestation of Indian public opinion and the emergence of Indian leadership at both national and provincial levels.
The influence of socio-religious groups such as Arya Samaj (started by Swami Dayanand Saraswati) and Brahmo Samaj (founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and others) became evident in pioneering reforms of Indian society. The work of men like Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo, V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, Subramanya Bharathy, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Rabindranath Tagore and Dadabhai Naoroji, as well as women such as the Scots–Irish Sister Nivedita, spread the passion for rejuvenation and freedom. The rediscovery of India's indigenous history by several European and Indian scholars also fed into the rise of nationalism among Indians.
Rise of Indian nationalism (1885–1905)
By 1900, although the Congress had emerged as an all-India political organisation, it did not have the support of most Indian Muslims. Attacks by Hindu reformers against religious conversion, cow slaughter, and the preservation of Urdu in Arabic script deepened their concerns of minority status and denial of rights if the Congress alone were to represent the people of India. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan launched a movement for Muslim regeneration that culminated in the founding in 1875 of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh (renamed Aligarh Muslim University in 1920). Its objective was to educate wealthy students by emphasising the compatibility of Islam with modern western knowledge. The diversity among India's Muslims, however, made it impossible to bring about uniform cultural and intellectual regeneration.
The nationalistic sentiments among Congress members led to the movement to be represented in the bodies of government, to have a say in the legislation and administration of India.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first Indian nationalist to embrace Swaraj
In 1907, the Congress was split into two factions: The radicals, led by Tilak, advocated civil agitation and direct revolution to overthrow the British Empire and the abandonment of all things British. The moderates, led by leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji and Gopal Krishna Gokhale, on the other hand, wanted reform within the framework of British rule. Tilak was backed by rising public leaders like Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, who held the same point of view. Under them, India's three great states – Maharashtra, Bengal and Punjab shaped the demand of the people and India's nationalism. Gokhale criticised Tilak for encouraging acts of violence and disorder. But the Congress of 1906 did not have public membership, and thus Tilak and his supporters were forced to leave the party.
But with Tilak's arrest, all hopes for an Indian offensive were stalled.
The Ghadar Party was formed overseas in 1913 to fight for the Independence of India with members coming from the United States and Canada, as well as Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
The temperance movement in India became aligned with Indian nationalism under the direction of Mahatma Gandhi, who saw alcohol as a foreign importation to the culture of the subcontinent.
Partition of Bengal, 1905
In July 1905, Lord Curzon, the Viceroy and Governor-General (1899–1905), ordered the partition of the province of Bengal supposedly for improvements in administrative efficiency in the huge and populous region. However, the Indians viewed the partition as an attempt by the British to disrupt the growing national movement in Bengal and divide the Hindus and Muslims of the region. The Bengali Hindu intelligentsia exerted considerable influence on local and national politics. The partition outraged Bengalis. Not only had the government failed to consult Indian public opinion, but the action appeared to reflect the British resolve to divide and rule. Widespread agitation ensued in the streets and in the press, and the Congress advocated boycotting British products under the banner of swadeshi, or indigenous industries. A growing movement emerged, focussing on indigenous Indian industries, finance, and education, which saw the founding of National Council of Education, the birth of Indian financial institutions and banks, as well as an interest in Indian culture and achievements in science and literature. Hindus showed unity by tying Rakhi on each other's wrists and observing Arandhan (not cooking any food). During this time, Bengali Hindu nationalists like Sri Aurobindo, Bhupendranath Datta, and Bipin Chandra Pal began writing virulent newspaper articles challenging the legitimacy of British rule in India in publications such as Jugantar and Sandhya, and were charged with sedition. Brahmabhandav Upadhyay, a Hindu newspaper editor who helped Tagore establish his school at Shantiniketan, was imprisoned and the first to die in British custody in the twentieth-century struggle for self-rule. The movement also witnessed violent revolutionary movement for Indian independence, notable revolutionary being Khudiram Bose. Due to his activities against the British, he was arrested and hanged.
The British newspaper, The Empire, wrote:
All India Muslim League
The All-India Muslim League was founded by the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference at Dhaka (now in Bangladesh), in 1906, in the context of the circumstances that were generated over the partition of Bengal in 1905. Being a political party to secure the interests of the Muslim diaspora in British India, the Muslim League played a decisive role behind the creation of Pakistan in the Indian subcontinent.
In 1916, Muhammad Ali Jinnah joined the Indian National Congress, which was the largest Indian political organisation. Like most of the Congress at the time, Jinnah did not favour outright self-rule, considering British influences on education, law, culture, and industry as beneficial to India. Jinnah became a member of the sixty-member Imperial Legislative Council. The council had no real power or authority, and included a large number of unelected pro-Raj loyalists and Europeans. Nevertheless, Jinnah was instrumental in the passing of the Child Marriages Restraint Act, the legitimisation of the Muslim waqf (religious endowments) and was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, which helped establish the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun. During the First World War, Jinnah joined other Indian moderates in supporting the British war effort.
First World War
The First World War began with an unprecedented outpouring of support towards Britain from within the mainstream political leadership.
None of the revolutionary conspiracies made a significant impact inside India.
In the aftermath of the First World War, high casualty rates, soaring inflation compounded by heavy taxation, a widespread influenza epidemic and the disruption of trade during the war escalated human suffering in India.
The pre-war nationalist movement revived moderate and extremist groups within the Congress submerged their differences in order to stand together as a unified front.
The British themselves adopted a "carrot and stick" approach in recognition of India's support during the war and in response to renewed nationalist demands.
Gandhi arrives in India
Gandhi had been a leader of the Indian nationalist movement in South Africa. He had also been a vocal opponent of basic discrimination and abusive labour treatment as well as suppressive police control such as the Rowlatt Acts. During these protests, Gandhi had perfected the concept of satyagraha. In January 1914 (well before the First World War began) Gandhi was successful. The legislation against Indians was repealed and all Indian political prisoners were released by General Jan Smuts. Gandhi accomplished this through extensive use of non-violent protests, such as boycotting, protest marching, and fasting by him and his followers. .
Gandhi returned to India on 9 January 1915, and initially entered the political fray not with calls for a nation-state, but in support of the unified commerce-oriented territory that the Congress Party had been asking for.
The positive impact of reform was seriously undermined in 1919 by the Rowlatt Act, named after the recommendations made the previous year to the Imperial Legislative Council by the Rowlatt Committee. The commission was set up to look into the war-time conspiracies by the nationalist organisations and recommend measures to deal with the problem in the post-war period. Rowlatt recommended the extension of the war-time powers of the Defence of India act into the post-war period. The war-time act had vested the Viceroy's government with extraordinary powers to quell sedition by silencing the press, detaining political activists without trial, and arresting any individuals suspected of sedition or treason without a warrant. It was increasingly reviled within India due to widespread and indiscriminate use. Many popular leaders, including Annie Beasant and Ali brothers had been detained. The Rowlatt Act was, therefore, passed in the face of universal opposition among the (non-official) Indian members in the Viceroy's council. The extension of the act drew widespread critical opposition. A nationwide cessation of work (hartal
The agitation unleashed by the acts led to British attacks on demonstrators, culminating on 13 April 1919, in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (also known as the Amritsar Massacre) in Amritsar, Punjab. The British military commander, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, blocked the main, and only entrance, and ordered his soldiers to fire into an unarmed and unsuspecting crowd of some 15,000 men, women, and children. They had assembled peacefully at Jallianwala Bagh, a walled courtyard, but Dyer had wanted to execute the imposed ban on all meetings and proposed to teach all Indians a lesson the harsher way. A total of 1,651 rounds were fired, killing 379 people (as according to an official British commission; Indian officials' estimates ranged as high as 1,499 and wounding 1,137 in the massacre.) Dyer was forced to retire but was hailed as a hero in Britain, demonstrating to Indian nationalists that the Empire was beholden to public opinion in Britain, but not in India. The episode dissolved wartime hopes of home rule and goodwill and opened a rift that could not be bridged short of complete self-rule.
From 1920 to 1922, Gandhi started the Non-Cooperation Movement.
Membership in the party was opened to anyone prepared to pay a token fee, a hierarchy of committees was established, made responsible for discipline and control over a hitherto amorphous and diffuse movement.
Gandhi was sentenced in 1922 to six years in prison, but was released after serving two.
The Indian political spectrum was further broadened in the mid-1920s by the emergence of both moderate and militant parties, such as the Swaraj Party, Hindu Mahasabha, Communist Party of India and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Regional political organisations also continued to represent the interests of non-Brahmins in Madras, Mahars in Maharashtra, and Sikhs in Punjab. However, people like Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi, Vanchinathan and Neelakanda Brahmachari played a major role from Tamil Nadu in both self-rule struggle and fighting for equality for all castes and communities. Many women participated in the movement, including Kasturba Gandhi (Gandhi's wife), Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Muthulaxmi Reddy, Aruna Asaf Ali, and many others.
Following Indian rejection of the recommendations in the Simon Commission an all-party conference was held at Mumbai in May 1928 intended to instil a sense of liberation among people. The conference appointed a drafting committee under Motilal Nehru to draw up a constitution for India. The Kolkata session of the Indian National Congress asked the British government to accord dominion status to India by December 1929, or a countrywide civil disobedience movement would be launched. In the midst of rising political discontent and increasingly violent regional movements, the call for complete sovereignty and an end to British rule began to find increasing grounds for credence with the people. Under the presidency of Jawaharlal at his historic Lahore session in December 1929, the Indian National Congress adopted the objective of complete self-rule. It authorised the Working Committee to launch a civil disobedience movement throughout the country. It was decided that 26 January 1930 should be observed all over India as the Purna Swaraj
In March 1931, the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed, and the government agreed to set all political prisoners free (although, some of the great revolutionaries were not set free and the death sentence for Bhagat Singh and his two comrades was not taken back which further intensified the agitation against Congress not only outside it also from within). For the next few years, Congress and the government were locked in both conflict and negotiations until what became the Government of India Act 1935 could be hammered out. By then, the rift between the Congress and the Muslim League had become unbridgeable as each pointed the finger at the other acrimoniously. The Muslim League disputed the claim of the Congress to represent all people of India, while the Congress disputed the Muslim League's claim to voice the aspirations of all Muslims.
The Civil Disobedience Movement indicated a new part in the process of the Indian self-rule struggle.
Elections and the Lahore resolution
The Government of India Act 1935, the voluminous and final constitutional effort at governing British India, articulated three major goals: establishing a loose federal structure, achieving provincial autonomy, and safeguarding minority interests through separate electorates. The federal provisions, intended to unite princely states and British India at the centre, were not implemented because of ambiguities in safeguarding the existing privileges of princes. In February 1937, however, provincial autonomy became a reality when elections were held; the Congress emerged as the dominant party with a clear majority in five provinces and held an upper hand in two, while the Muslim League performed poorly.
In 1939, the Viceroy Linlithgow declared India's entrance into the Second World War without consulting provincial governments. In protest, the Congress asked all of its elected representatives to resign from the government. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the president of the All-India Muslim League, persuaded participants at the annual Muslim League session at Lahore in 1940 to adopt what later came to be known as the Lahore Resolution, demanding the division of India into two separate sovereign states, one Muslim, the other Hindu; sometimes referred to as Two Nation Theory. Although the idea of Pakistan had been introduced as early as 1930, very few had responded to it.
In opposition to the Lahore Resolution, the All India Azad Muslim Conference gathered in Delhi in April 1940 to voice its support for a united India. Its members included several Islamic organisations in India, as well as 1400 nationalist Muslim delegates; the "attendance at the Nationalist meeting was about five times than the attendance at the League meeting."
The All-India Muslim League worked to try to silence those Muslims who stood against the partition of India, often using "intimidation and coercion". The murder of the All India Azad Muslim Conference leader Allah Bakhsh Soomro also made it easier for the All-India Muslim League to demand the creation of Pakistan.
Apart from a few stray incidents, armed rebellions against the British rulers did not occur before the beginning of the 20th century.
However, the emergence of the Gandhian movement slowly began to absorb the different revolutionary groups.
Within a short time of its inception, these organisations became the focus of an extensive police and intelligence operations.
The Kallara-Pangode Struggle was one of some 39 agitations against the Government of India. The Home department has later notified about 38 movements/struggles across Indian territories as the ones that culminated in self-rule ended the British Raj.
Final process of Indian self-rule movement
In 1937, provincial elections were held and the Congress came to power in seven of the eleven provinces. This was a strong indicator of the Indian people's support for complete self-rule.
When the Second World War started, Viceroy Linlithgow unilaterally declared India a belligerent on the side of Britain, without consulting the elected Indian representatives. In opposition to Linlithgow's action, the entire Congress leadership resigned from the provincial and local governments. The Muslims and Sikhs, by contrast, strongly supported the war effort and gained enormous stature in London. Defying Congress, millions of Indians supported the war effort, and indeed the British Indian Army became the largest volunteer force, numbering 2,500,000 men during the war.
Especially during the Battle of Britain in 1940, Gandhi resisted calls for massive civil disobedience movements that came from within as well as outside his party, stating he did not seek India's self-rule out of the ashes of a destroyed Britain. In 1942, the Congress launched the Quit India movement. There was some violence but the Raj cracked down and arrested tens of thousands of Congress leaders, including all the main national and provincial figures. They were not released until the end of the war was in sight in 1945.
The self-rule movement saw the rise of three movements: The first of these, the Kakori conspiracy (9 August 1925) was led by Indian youth under the leadership of Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil; second was the Azad Hind movement, whose main protagonist Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was a former leader of Congress. From its earliest wartime inception, it joined the Axis Powers to fight Britain. The third conspiracy began in August 1942, orchestrated by Lal Bahadur Shastri it reflected on the common man. The ensuing failure of the Cripps' mission to reach a consensus with the Indian political leadership over the transfer of power after the war revealed the weakness of the socialist position at that time.
India's entry into the war was strongly opposed by Subhas Chandra Bose, who had been elected President of the Congress in 1938 and 1939, but later resigned owing to differences of opinion with Gandhi. After resignation he formed his own wing separated from the mainstream Congress leadership known as Forward bloc which was a loci focus for ex-congress leaders holding socialist views; however he remained emotionally attached to Congress for the remainder of his life. Bose then founded the All India Forward Bloc. In 1940 the British authorities in Calcutta placed Bose under house arrest. However, he escaped and made his way through Afghanistan to Nazi Germany to seek Hitler and Mussolini's help for raising an army to fight the British. The Free India Legion comprising Erwin Rommel's Indian POWs was formed. After a dramatic decline in Germany's military fortunes, a German land invasion of India became untenable. Hitler advised Bose to go to Japan where a submarine was arranged to transport Bose, who was ferried to Japanese Southeast Asia, where he formed the Azad Hind Government. The Provisional Free Indian Government in exile reorganised the Indian National Army composed of Indian POWs and volunteer Indian expatriates in South-East Asia, with the help of the Japanese. Its aim was to reach India as a fighting force that would build on public resentment to inspire revolt among Indian soldiers raj.
The INA was to see action against the allies, including the British Indian Army, in the forests of Arakan, Burma and in Assam, laying siege on Imphal and Kohima with the Japanese 15th Army. During the war, the Andaman and Nicobar islands were captured by the Japanese and handed over by them to the INA.
The INA failed owing to disrupted logistics, poor supplies from the Japanese, and lack of training. It surrendered unconditionally to the British in Singapore in 1945.
The Quit India Movement (Bharat Chhodo Andolan) or the August Movement was a civil disobedience movement in India which commenced on 8 August 1942 in response to Gandhi's call for immediate self-rule by Indians and against sending Indians to World War II. He asked all teachers to leave their schools, and other Indians to leave their respective jobs and take part in this movement. Due to Gandhi's political influence, his request was followed by a massive proportion of the population. In addition, Congress led the Quit India Movement to demand the British to leave India and transfer the political power to a representative government.
During the movement, Gandhi and his followers continued to use non-violence against British rule.
At the outbreak of war, the Congress Party had during the Wardha meeting of the working-committee in September 1939, passed a resolution conditionally supporting the fight against fascism, but were rebuffed when they asked for self-rule in return.
The aim of the movement was to force the British Government to the negotiating table by holding the Allied war effort hostage.
On 8 August 1942, the Quit India resolution was passed at the Mumbai session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).
All the other major parties rejected the Quit India plan, and most cooperated closely with the British, as did the princely states, the civil service, and the police.
There was opposition to the Quit India Movement from several political quarters who were fighting for Indian self-rule.
The other Hindu nationalist organisation, and Mahasabha affiliate Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had a tradition of keeping aloof from the anti-British Indian self-rule movement since its founding by K.B. Hedgewar in 1925. In 1942, the RSS, under M.S. Golwalkar completely abstained from joining in the Quit India Movement as well. The Bombay government (British) appreciated the RSS as such, by noting that,
The British Government stated that the RSS was not at all supporting any civil disobedience against them, and as such their other political activities(even if objectionable) can be overlooked. Further, the British Government also asserted that at Sangh meetings organised during the times of anti-British movements started and fought by the Indian National Congress,
As such, the British government did not crack down on the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha at all.
The RSS head (sarsanghchalak) during that time, M.S. Golwalkar later openly admitted to the fact that the RSS did not participate in the Quit India Movement. However, such an attitude during the Indian independence movement also led to the Sangh being viewed with distrust and anger, both by the general Indian public, as well as certain members of the organisation itself. In Golwalkar's own words,
Overall, the Quit India Movement turned out to be not very successful and only lasted until 1943.
After two Japanese attacks on Christmas Island in late February and early March 1942, relations between the British officers and their Indian troops broke down. On the night of 10 March, the Indian troops assisted by Sikh policemen mutinied, killing five British soldiers and imprisoning the remaining 21 Europeans on the island. Later on 31 March, a Japanese fleet arrived at the island and the Indians surrendered.
The Royal Indian Navy Mutiny encompasses a total strike and subsequent mutiny by Indian sailors of the Royal Indian revolt on board ship and shore establishments at Bombay (Mumbai) harbour on 18 February 1946. From the initial flashpoint in Bombay, the mutiny spread and found support throughout British India, from Karachi to Calcutta and ultimately came to involve 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors.
The agitations, mass strikes, demonstrations and consequently support for the mutineers, therefore continued several days even after the mutiny had been called off.
Impact of World War 2
World War 2 was one of the most significant factors in accelerating the Indian Independence, and the independence of many British and non-British colonies.
When Britain reached out to the US asking for help in the war, the US offered help contingent on Britain decolonizing post WW2, and that agreement was codified in the Atlantic charter. The decolonization of Britain (post war) also meant that US and other countries would possibly have access to markets to sell goods that were previously under British Empire-which was not accessible to them then To bring about these changes, the establishment of UN following World War 2 codified sovereignty for nations, and encouraged free trade. The war also forced the British to come to an agreement with Indian leaders to grant them freedom if they helped with war efforts since India had one of largest armies. Also, following WW2, it was untenable for British to raise capital on its own to keep its colonies. They needed to rely on America and did via the Marshall Plan to rebuild their country.
Sovereignty and partition of India
On 3 June 1947, Viscount Louis Mountbatten , the last British Governor-General of India, announced the partitioning of British India into India and Pakistan. With the speedy passage of the Indian Independence Act 1947, at 11:57 on 14 August 1947 Pakistan was declared a separate nation. Then at 12:02 A.M., on 15 August 1947 India became a sovereign and democratic nation. Eventually, 15 August became the Independence Day for India marking the end of British India. Also on 15 August, both Pakistan and India had the right to remain in or remove themselves from the British Commonwealth. But in 1949, India took the decision to remain in the commonwealth.
Violent clashes between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims followed.
The Constituent Assembly, headed by the prominent lawyer, reformer and Dalit leader, B.R.
Following self-rule in 1947, India remained in the Commonwealth of Nations, and relations between the UK and India have since become friendly. There are many areas in which the two countries seek stronger ties for mutual benefit, and there are also strong cultural and social ties between the two nations. The UK has an ethnic Indian population of over 1.6 million. In 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron described Indian – British relations as a "New Special Relationship".