GS Mains History Q&A: 2

Q.2 ​Do you think that Quit India Movement was a spontaneous revolution? Justify. 


Various scholars have analyzed questions of spontaneity and preparedness of the Quit India Movement in terms of action and reaction. The overwhelming view is that this movement was not a controlled volunteer movement like Gandhi’s previous movements of 1920-22 and 1930-34. It was not conceived as a traditional Satyagraha. It was to be a ‘fight to the finish’, an ‘open rebellion’, ‘short and swift’ which could very well plunge the country into a conflagration.

In the wake of All India Congress Committee passing the Quit India Resolution at Bombay on 8th August 1942, eminent Congress leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad were arrested the very next day.

The arrest of the leaders made the people aghast and took them completely unawares. The masses were left without any guidance. Gandhi’s ‘do or die’ call for the people created an upheaval in the country. Large number of students left their schools and colleges to join the movement. Strikes, demonstrations and public meetings were organized in various towns and cities. The very size of the crowds made the Government nervous.

Tension bred tension and led to confrontation. Since people had no guidance with the leaders either behind the bars or underground, passions ran high. Individuals and groups interpreted the situation to the best of their understanding and acted, as they thought best. The continuing police repression and ‘Ordinance Raj’ further inflamed the feelings of the people. Slowly the movement reached the rural areas. In 1943, as the movement gained further momentum, there were armed attacks on government buildings in Madras and Bengal.

Therefore what started as individual acts of angry defiance, soon swelled into a movement, and the movement into a revolt. Hence we can say that Quit India Movement captures the quintessence of a spontaneous rising by the people.

(NOTE: It can also be justified that QIM was not a spontaneous revolution. For example: Individual satyagrah was alsready started by Gandhi earlier, there was already warning of movement by Congress, masses were already preparing for movement due to war time difficulties faced by them, there was instructions to masses in resolution of Quit India about what to do in case of there is noone to lead etc.)

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