Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 26]- 11 April
Q. Why had it become necessary to launch Quit India Movement in the conditions when the possibility of brutal repression was a certainty? [10 Marks]
Quit India Movement also called the ‘August Revolution’ was launched in August 1942. In this struggle, the common people of the country demonstrated an unparalleled heroism and militancy. Moreover, the repression that they faced was the most brutal that had ever been used against the national movement.
The circumstances in which the resistance was offered were also the most adverse faced by the national movement until then — using the justification of the war effort, the Government had armed itself with draconian measures, and suppressed even basic civil liberties. Virtually any political activity, however peaceful and ‘legal,’ was at this time an illegal and revolutionary activity.
It became necessary to launch Quit India Movement even in these difficult conditions because of the following reasons:
- Failure of the Cripps Mission:
- The failure of the Cripps Mission in April 1942 made it clear that Britain was unwilling to offer an honourable settlement and a real constitutional advance during the War, and that she was determined to continue India’s unwilling partnership in the War efforts.
- The empty gesture of the Cripps offer convinced even those Congressmen like Nehru and Gandhiji, who did not want to do anything to hamper the anti fascist War effort that any further silence would be tantamount to accepting the right of the British Government to decide India’s fate without any reference to the wishes of her people.
- Gandhiji had been as clear as Nehru that he did not want to hamper the anti-fascist struggle, especially that of the Russian and Chinese people. But by the spring of 1942 he was becoming increasingly convinced of the inevitability of a struggle. Congress edged towards Quit India while Britain moved towards arming herself with special powers to meet the threat. Nehru remained opposed to the idea of a struggle right till August 1942 and gave way only at the very end.
- Popular discontent:
- Popular discontent, a product of rising prices and war-time shortages, was gradually mounting.
- High-handed government actions such as the commandeering of boats in Bengal and Orissa to prevent their being used by the Japanese had led to considerable anger among the people.
- Feeling of imminent British collapse and manner of British evacuation:
- The popular willingness to give expression to this discontent was enhanced by the growing feeling of an imminent British collapse.
- The news of Allied reverses and British withdrawals from South-East Asia and Burma and the trains bringing wounded soldiers from the Assam-Burma border confirmed this feeling.
- Combined with this was the impact of the manner of the British evacuation from Malaya and Burma. It was common knowledge that the British had evacuated, the white residents and generally left the subject people to their fate.
- Letters from Indians in South-East Asia to their relatives in India were full of graphic accounts of British betrayal and their being left at the mercy of the dreaded Japanese.
- It was to be expected that they would repeat the performance in India, in the event of a Japanese occupation.
- The popular faith in the stability of British rule had reached such a low that there was a run on the banks and people withdrew deposits from post-office savings accounts and started hoarding gold, silver and coins. This was particularly marked in East U.P. and Bihar, but it also took place in Madras Presidency.
- People were becoming demoralized:
- One major reason for the leadership of the national movement thinking it necessary to launch a struggle was their feeling that the people were becoming demoralized and, that in the event of a Japanese occupation, might not resist at all.
- In order to build up their capacity to resist Japanese aggression, it was necessary to draw them out of this demoralized state of mind and convince them of their own power. Gandhiji was particularly clear on this aspect.
- So convinced was Gandhiji that the time was now ripe for struggle that he said to Louis Fischer in an interview in the beginning of June: ‘I have become impatient. . . I may not be able to convince the Congress I will go ahead nevertheless and address myself directly to the people.’ He did not have to carry out this threat and, as before, the Congress accepted the Mahatma’s expert advice on the timing of a mass struggle.
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