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Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 27]- 15 April

Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 27]- 15 April

Q.  “After all we framed the constitution of 1935 because we thought it the best way to hold India to the Empire.” Comment. [10 Marks]

Ans:

The Government of India Act 1935 was originally passed in August 1935 and was the longest British Act of Parliament ever enacted by that time. The significance of the Government of India Act of 1935 can be best summed up in the words of the then Viceroy Lord Linlithgow himself: “After all we framed the constitution of 1935 because we thought it the best way to hold India to the Empire.” This can be explained through the following points:

  • The Act of 1935 did not mention the granting of dominion status promised during the Civil Disobedience movement. The federal part of the Act was designed to meet the aims of the Conservative Party led Britain. Over the very long term, the Conservative leadership expected the Act to lead to a nominally dominion status India, conservative in outlook, dominated by an alliance of Hindu princes and right-wing Hindus which would be well disposed to place itself under the guidance and protection of the United Kingdom.
  • British Government had consciously chosen the federal structure because it “would act primarily to protect Britain’s interests rather than hand over control in vital areas. Its net effect was to divert Congress attention to the provinces, while maintaining strong imperial control at the centre.
  • By giving Indian politicians a great deal of power at the provincial level, while denying them responsibility at the Centre, it was hoped that Congress, the only national party, would disintegrate into a series of provincial fiefdoms. Though the congress High Command was able to control the provincial ministries and to force their resignation in 1939. The Act showed the strength and cohesion of Congress and probably strengthened it.
  • The Act tried to ensure that the Congress could never rule alone or gain enough seats to bring down the government This was done by over-representing the Princes, by giving every possible minority the right to separately vote for candidates belonging to their respective communities (separate electorate), and by making the executive theoretically, but not practically, removable by the legislature.
  • If any change happened at all, as B.R. Tomlinson has pointed out: “The apex of the system of imperial control moved from London to Delhi.” The viceroy was now to enjoy many of the powers previously exercised by the secretary of state and thus Indo-British relationship was provided with a new orientation that would best protect essential imperial interests.
  • R. Tomlinson said: “The progress of constitutional advance in India is determined by the need to attract Indian collaborator to the Raj.” The Act aimed at winning the support of moderate nationalists since its formal aim was to lead eventually to a Dominion of India which, as defined under the Statute of Westminster 1931 virtually equaled independence.
  • The Act aimed at winning Muslim support by conceding most of Jinnah’s Fourteen Points.
  • The Act had retained British control of the Indian Army, Indian finances, and India’s foreign relations for another generation.

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