Do you agree with the view that by 1940 the main obstacle to Indian independence was not British imperialism but divisions within India? Many people believe that in the 1940’s most of India’s problems involving independence was to do with divisions within India rather than British imperialism. In this essay I will be looking at both points of view and finally giving my opinion. I will be using three sources also to help me show both sides of the story. I will also be using my further knowledge to add a wider range of knowledge.
Source 15 is a statement made by Viceroy Linlithgow during discussions with Muhammad Ali Jinnah in August 1940, concerning arrangements for the wartime administration of India. In this source he is both for and against the view of the question. “His Majesty’s Government could not contemplate transfer of their present responsibilities for the peace and welfare of India to any system of Government”. This is suggesting that England can’t even imagine giving any real power to India. Which means England is withholding any peace for India by not giving them any power.
England are also holding back any welfare for India by keeping all the power. However, the Viceroy also says afterwards, “Whose authority is directly denied by large and powerful elements in India’s national life”. This quote is saying that divisions within India are slowing down the progression of gaining power for India. Even England’s power over India is being disrupted by the divisions within India. If a specialist governing country is struggling to stay in control how is an inexperienced country going to handle one of the largest countries in the world?
Linlithgow made the August offer in 1940; along with Jinnah they discussed a whole range of issues regarding India and the war. The Viceroy did make an effort to involve the Muslim community with the proposals in the august offer as well. One of the proposals was “an assurance that the government would not adapt any new constitution without the prior approval of Muslim India”. This shows that the Viceroy tried to prevent divisions within India. Source 16 is a lot more one sided compared to source 15. Source 16 mainly believes that it is British imperialism that is preventing Indian Independence.
This source is from W. O. Simpson, from ‘changing horizons’, which was published in 1986. One of the most obvious quotes backing up the hatred towards British Imperialism is, “The idea, and the Government of India Act that emerged on 1935, was strongly opposed by one faction in the Conservative Party, which formed itself into the Imperial Defence League. ” This Defence League tried to prevent the Act being passed but it was unsuccessful in its efforts, and the Act was passed. “The Act was attacked both in Britain for going too far”.
If Britain didn’t go as far as they did with the act they would have had a more successful reign. In this source there is a quote that suggests that divisions within India that was stopping Indian Independence. “in India for not going far enough”. This quote suggests that India didn’t believe the Act wasn’t taken out as much as they would have liked. Round table conferences did prove that congress didn’t speak for all of India, and due to the minority of the Muslims in India the 1937 elections were very nerve racking for the Muslims.
If Congress came into power they would have been in a very bad situation. The Muslim League needed to win over all of the Muslims and make sure the trials can become fair. Source 17 is much like source 15 because they a both fairly even sided, in what they say. This source is from Rosemary Rees, India 1900-47, published in 2006. It mentions the faults of both British Imperialism and the Divisions between India. “If only Congress could, in, fact, speak for all main elements in India’s national life then, however advanced their demands our problem would have been in many respects, far easier”.
This quote is strongly suggesting that the division in India is preventing the independence. The fact that England can’t get a straight answer from India is making England less confident in giving them independence. They had Congress saying they spoke for the whole of India and they had the Muslim League saying that they don’t and because they are the minority in India they should get an equal say in matters so the Congress doesn’t just make lives for the Hindus better and forget about the Muslims. However, Churchill was adamant that he wasn’t going to give India up.
He didn’t even think about it. He knew that he wanted to keep it, therefore in his mind he is going to keep it, no matter what. In source 17 he strongly backs this statement up in saying “We mean to hold our own. I have not become the King’s first minister in order to preside over liquidation of the British Empire. ” This quote just shows how incredibly stubborn Churchill was in his views of handing over India’s independence. It didn’t matter what was happening around him or what was happening in India, India was England’s and he intended it to stay that way.
All of these sources mention both points, in different amounts. I personally believe that it was mainly down to British imperialism that prevented India to gain independence. In the 1940’s India found it hard to find independence at all. Though I don’t believe it was all down to England. The fact that India couldn’t give an answer that related to both Muslims and Hindus meant that England lost trust in them. Gandhi was trying to claim that he was speaking for the whole country, whilst Muslims were pleading not to listen to him. It was all very confusing for the English.
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