Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 26]- 8 April
Q. “The draft declaration of Cripps Mission was a conservative, reactionary and limited offer and finally the mission ended in failure.” Briefly discuss. [10 Marks]
As the war situation worsened during the second world war, President Roosevelt of the USA and President Chiang Kai-Shek of China as also the Labour Party leaders of Britain put pressure on Churchill to seek the active cooperation of Indians in the War.
To secure this cooperation the British Government sent to India in March 1942 a mission headed by a Cabinet minister Stafford Cripps, a left-wing Labourite who had earlier actively supported the Indian national movement.
Even though Cripps announced that the aim of British policy in India was ‘the earliest possible realization of self- government in India,’ the Draft Declaration he brought with him was disappointing. The Declaration promised India
- Dominion Status after War.
- a constitution-making body after the War whose members would be elected by the provincial assemblies and nominated by the rulers in case of the princely states.
- The Pakistan demand was accommodated by the provision that any province which was not prepared to accept the new constitution would have the right to sign a separate agreement with Britain regarding its future status. For the present the British would continue to exercise sole control over the defence of the country.
Amery, the Secretary of State, described the Declaration as in essence a conservative, reactionary and limited offer. Nehru, a friend of Cripps, was to write later: When I read those proposals for the first time I was profoundly depressed.’
Gandhiji called it a post dated cheque on crumbling bank. It was post dated cheque because no time limit was given for the dominion status or a constitution-making body. For Gandhiji, Britain was the crumbling bank (as it was losing the war) and the offer a post dated cheque (that was redeemable in the future) would be useless in the future as Britain would lose the war.
Negotiations between Cripps and the Congress leaders broke down and the mission ended in failure:
- The Congress objected to the provision for Dominion Status rather than full independence,
- The Congress objected to the provision for the representation of the princely states in the constituent assembly not by the people of the states but by the nominees of the rulers.
- And above all, the Congress objected to the provision for the partition of India.
The British Government refused to accept the demand for the immediate transfer of effective power to the Indians and for a real share in the responsibility for the defence of India.
An important reason for the failure of the negotiations was the incapacity of Cripps to bargain and negotiate. He had been told not to go beyond the Draft Declaration. Moreover, Churchill, the Secretary of State, Amery, the Viceroy, Linlithgow, and the Commander-in-Chief, Wavell, did not want Cripps to succeed and constantly opposed and sabotaged his efforts to accommodate Indian opinion.
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