Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Quit India Movement 1942: Remembering after 75 years.

  • The Quit India Movement was launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942, during World War II, demanding an end to British Rule of India.
  • The Cripps Mission had failed, and on 8 August 1942, Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay.
  • The All-India Congress Committee launched a mass protest demanding what Gandhi called "An Orderly British Withdrawal" from India. Even though it was wartime, the British were prepared to act. Almost the entire leadership of the INC was imprisoned without trial within hours of Gandhi's speech. Most spent the rest of the war in prison and out of contact with the masses. 
  • The British had the support of the Viceroy's Council (which had a majority of Indians), the Muslim League, the princely states, the Indian Imperial Police, the British Indian Army and the Indian Civil Service. Many Indian businessmen profiting from heavy wartime spending did not support Quit India Movement. Many students paid more attention to Subhas Chandra Bose, who was in exile and supporting the Axis Powers. 
  • The only outside support came from the Americans, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressured Prime Minister Winston Churchill to give in to some of the Indian demands. 
  • The Quit India campaign was effectively crushed. The British refused to grant immediate independence, saying it could happen only after the war had ended.
  • Quit India failed because of heavy-handed suppression, weak co-ordination and the lack of a clear-cut programme of action. However, the British government realized that India was ungovernable in the long run due to the cost of World War II, and the question for postwar became how to exit gracefully and peacefully.
  • At the outbreak of war, the Congress Party had passed a resolution during the Wardha meeting of the working-committee in September 1939, conditionally supporting the fight against fascism, but were rebuffed when they asked for independence in return. Gandhi had not supported this initiative, as he could not reconcile an endorsement for war.
  • At the height of the Battle of Britain, Gandhi had stated that he did not seek to raise an independent India from the ashes of Britain.
  • Cripps draft declaration of 22 March 1942 included terms like establishment of Dominion, establishment of a Constituent Assembly and right of the Provinces to make separate constitutions to be granted after the cessation of the Second World War. Congress felt this Declaration only offered India a promise to be fulfilled in future. Gandhi remarked "It is a post dated cheque on a crashing bank." There was growing realization of the incapacity of the British to defend India.
  • Several political groups active during the Indian Independence Movement were opposed to the Quit India Movement. These included the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Communist Party of India and the princely states.
  • The Indian nationalists knew that the United States strongly supported Indian independence. After Churchill threatened to resign if pushed too hard, the U.S. quietly supported him. The American operation annoyed both the British and the Indians.
  • In 1942, the RSS, under M.S. Golwalkar refused to join in the Quit India Movement. The Bombay government appreciated the RSS position. RSS, in turn, had assured the British authorities that "it had no intentions of offending against the orders of the Government".
  • The British, alarmed by the advance of the Japanese army to the India-Burma border, responded by imprisoning Gandhi. All the members of the Party's Working Committee (national leadership) were imprisoned as well. Later the Congress party was banned. Despite lack of direct leadership, large protests and demonstrations were held all over the country. Workers remained absent en masse and strikes were called. Not all demonstrations were peaceful, at some places bombs exploded, government buildings were set on fire, electricity was cut and transport and communication lines were severed.
  • Although the British released Gandhi on account of his health in 1944, Gandhi kept up the resistance, demanding the release of the Congress leadership.
  • By early 1944, India was mostly peaceful again, while the Congress leadership was still incarcerated. A sense that the movement had failed depressed many nationalists, while Jinnah and the Muslim League and Congress opponents like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Hindu Mahasabha sought to gain political mileage, criticizing Gandhi and the Congress Party.

RSS under Golwalkar, Communists etc opposed Gandhi's quit India movement and cooperated with British. Modi stating in Lok Sabha that "...everyone had worked for the common goal of Independence" is pale and a blatant lie. Modi & Co have no right to talk about Gandhi & independence movement which RSS etc opposed and cooperated British. The only exception was that RSS founder Hedgewar participated in the Civil Disobedience movement of 1930s in individual capacity without involving RSS fearing it could be construed as being anti-British. Sonia Gandhi stating “...there were people and organisations which had opposed the Quit India movement and had played no role in getting our country freedom” is factually correct and directly refers to RSS, BJP and Communists. Now Modi should have courage to talk to people of India - truth as truth. If not, he should avoid talking truth rather than than talking lies.

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