Last Updated 10 Aug 2020

Self Rule Movement in India 1937

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In 1937, provincial elections were held and the Congress came into power in eight of the eleven provinces. This was a mark of the support for complete self-rule by the Indian people. The self-rule was demanded by the top leaders of the Indian National Congress and other political parties. Many agitations were done to gain the freedom and to establish self-rule.

Tension also grew in the world as Germany had annexed a part of Poland in the leadership of Adolf Hitler. There was a state of confusion and the violent insurgencies and revolts were being observed everywhere in India during that time.

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The Government of India Act 1935

To weaken the control of the British over the Indian population several efforts and movements had been initiated. The British imposed the Government of India Act 1935 which was not relevant. It was a long and complex Act.

This Act had 321 sections and 10 schedules. The growing demand for the transfer of power and the feeling of nationality in Indians compelled the British to amend the whole system of governance to ensure their interests.

Through this Act the British had tried to keep all the powers instead of transferring them into the Indian hands. Actually the outline of the Act was a hindrance in the development process. The legislative assembly had no power to amend any clause of the Act. The main powers belonged to the Governor General.

The Act had provided the power to vote to the Indians but it all was merely an illusion because of the elaborate and special powers were still in the hands of governors and the governor general. Provincial government had become a puppet. Therefore Nehru commented it an involuntary, anti-democratic and anti-national rules. He said,” The Government of India Act is a declaration of slavery”.

In the Government of India Act 1935 following points had been mentioned:

  • An all India Union will be formed in which all the British provinces and the kingdoms will be included.
  • Provinces will have the right of self-governance and they had become autonomous.
  • A federal court will be established.
  • Reserve Bank of India was established.
  • Burma and Aden were separated from the Indian land.
  • Two new provinces Sindh and Orissa had been formed.
  • Dyarchy was renewed for the Central and provincial level.

Declaration of Provincial Elections by the British

The Indian National Congress had decided to participate into the provincial election in its Lucknow session. In the Lucknow session Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel had decided to face the British through the election. The provincial election was held in all the 11 provinces where Indian National Congress was able to win eight provinces. It was a great success of INC.

Formation of the Cabinet

The INC sent their representatives to Mumbai, Madras, Central province, Orissa, Bihar and United province to frame the cabinet. Later on Assam and North-West province were also included in the INC. Gandhiji wanted that the powers of ministers will be used in achieving the goals of Nationalism and will not be as the Government of India Act 1935. He told that the ministers will use their powers for the well being and welfare of the people.

Hence a working committee was formed by INC, in which Ballabh Bhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, and Dr. Rajendra Prasad were the main advisor of the committee. The main objective of the committee was to put the problems before the British Government and to find the solution in favour of the Indian people and the nation.

They had stipulated the task to establish more police stations to strengthen the citizen liberty, agricultural reforms, promotion of common education, and common justice to all. The decisions of the INC are the following:

  • Many bills had been passed by the cabinet by which farmers and tenants were relived from the moneylenders. Apart from this, it was tried that the bills will provide forest land as pastures, demolition of land revenue, and the end of bestowment and forced labour.
  • In 1938 the Industrial Dispute bill was proposed for the reform in the life of cloth mill labours in Mumbai.
  • Special programme were arranged to boost the education and health in the rural areas.
  • The land of the people had been returned to their owners who had donated during The Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • All the blames and bans on the press had been removed.

Revolt in Madras Presidency

In 1937, when the provincial government had been established in Madras Presidency, the INC leader C. Rajagopalachari made Hindi compulsory in schools. He believed that India could prosper in Hindi well despite English, as other countries like Russia, China, France or Germany had progressed in their own language. Many Periyar and Tamil leaders protested resulting in the violent movement. Police had to use force in many places and loss of lives and property were the evidences.

The Round Table Conference and the Partition

The Dandi Yatra covered by Gandhi and his 78 followers against the malice “Salt Act” had shaken the roots of the British Empire and they started thinking to give independence to India. For the constitutional reforms the British had organised three Round Table Conferences in between 1930-32.

The conferences were based on the report provided by Simon Commission. These conferences couldn’t get success to achieve their objective and the demand of Swaraj was coined by the Congress. On the other hand, the Muslim League leaders raised their demand for another Free State, Pakistan– a part of India. Therefore the seeds of partition were sown in the third round table conference that turned into a violent and brutal violence.

Participation of Women in the Movement

Women had also stood parallel to the men in the freedom struggle. In 1936 Smt. Vijay Laxmi Pandit was elected for Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly and was appointed as the minister in 1937. She had participated in many movements led by the INC. In 1928, Latika Ghosh had established Mahila Rastriya Sangh.

This association had taken part in the violent movements of revolutionaries like Arbindo Ghosh, Subhash Chandra Bose etc. Beena Das, who tried to shoot bullets on the Governor of Bengal, Kamala das Gupta, Kalyani Das and many were active in their related groups. Many of them were good organizers, orators, promoters, and volunteers.

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