Category Mahatma Gandhiji

Why is Lord Louis Mountbatten ever remembered in India’s history?

            Shortly after his arrival in India on 24th March 1947, Lord Mountbatten took part in discussions with Indian political leaders. He had free and frank discussions with Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhiji, and other prominent leaders. He had talks with the members of Muslim League too.

            Mountbatten worked sincerely with the goal of persuading the Congress and the League to agree to an acceptable plan, to end the rule of the British Raj, and to work out the modalities for the withdrawal of the British.

            He also wanted to keep India in the Commonwealth of Nations. The time was also favourable for his plans. India was tormented by communal wars. Brutality and human sacrifice were spiraling beyond human endurance.

            Being the last British Viceroy in India, Mountbatten got abundant freedom to solve the prevailing issues without any interference from Britain. Since the time at his disposal was very short, he wanted to prepare for the transfer of power without wasting time.

            Mountbatten knew the art of dealing with the political leaders of India in a dignified way. Gandhiji alone opposed the idea of partition among the leaders. But ultimately, he too accepted the decision with a deep sense of sorrow. 

Why is it said that Gandhiji played a major role in calming the riots?

           The violence between Hindus and Muslims swept India in the late 1940s. A situation close to a civil war prevailed in north, north-west, and north-east India.

          It appeared as if the Congress leaders had become fed up with the communal violence, and the British policy of inactivity. The only way out of this communal and constitutional deadlock was the acceptance of the Muslim League’s demand in some form or the other. Gandhiji was disappointed at the response of the members of the League.

          Gandhi started his journey to Noakhali, Bengal, on 6th November. For four months, he stayed in Noakhali and visited all the areas of dispute to restore peace and communal harmony. He held prayer meetings, and he preached courage, forgiveness, and truth. Gandhiji moved from Bengal to Bihar later.

          Gandhiji appeared as a peacemaker in the villages of Bihar. The killings lasted for one month. Gandhiji’s charismatic presence calmed the people, but the demand for a separate nation-state was heard from all parts of the country. 

Why is it said that the idea of the partition of India got momentum during the war days?

            During the second half of the nineteenth century, when the British dominance had been firmly established throughout the Indian subcontinent, some novel trends were in the making. Colonialism boosted a spirit of nationalism, but at the same time, also caused feelings of communalism to rise up. Thus, the colonial rule had a dubious role in the making of India. The flare-up of the communal issue ultimately resulted in the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan. In fact, the Congress opposed the partition up to 1945, but it had to accept it subsequently, as a remedial measure.

            Nationalist historians blame this on the colonial policy of divide and rule, but imperial ideologues maintain that the Indian socio-cultural milieu caused it. The demand of the Muslim League and Jinnah for a separate nation was found unreal by Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru. But when the League rejected long term provisions of the Cabinet Mission plan and announced the ‘Direct Action’ from 16th August 1946, the Congress leaders were compelled to reconsider their approach towards the demand.

            The League envisaged the Congress as a Hindu elitist group, and was fearful of the Hindu Swaraj. This led to the partition of India, despite all of the peacemaking efforts of the Congress Party. 

When was the Interim government formed?

          The Interim Government of India was formed on September 2nd, 1946, to help the transition of India from British rule to independence.

          In August 1946, the Congress decided to join the Interim Government in response to the call of the British Government to facilitate the process of transfer of power. The Interim Government was headed by the Viceroy, Lord Wavell. Jawaharlal Nehru was the Vice-President of the Council, with the powers of a Prime Minister.

          Leaders like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Jagjivan Ram, C. Rajagopalachari etc. also held prominent positions.

          This government was entrusted with the mission of assisting the transition of India and Pakistan from British rule to independence as two separate nations. The Interim Government was in place till 15th August 1947, when the nations of India and Pakistan received independence from colonial rule.

          Until August 15th 1947, India continued under the rule of the United Kingdom and the Interim Government set out to establish diplomatic relations with other countries, such as the United States of America.

          For the time being, the Constituent Assembly, from which the Interim Government was created, had the challenging task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India.


Why was the death of Kasturba a severe blow to Gandhiji?

            One of the most devastating incidents in Gandhiji’s personal life was the demise of his wife, Kasturba Gandhi in 1944.

            Kasturba was an unlettered woman when she entered Gandhiji’s life in 1883. It was Gandhiji who gave her the first lessons in learning how to read and write. She respected the ideals of her husband, though she had disagreements with him on many grounds.

            Kasturba, an ardent supporter of Gandhiji throughout his life, was affectionately called ‘Ba’ by Gandhiji. Kasturba worked alongside her husband.

            When Gandhi became involved in the agitation to improve the working conditions of Indians in South Africa and gave them the power to represent themselves, Kasturba eventually decided to join the struggle. In September 1913, she was arrested, and sentenced to three months, imprisonment with hard labour.

            After Gandhiji’s return to India, Kasturba took Gandhiji’s place when he was under arrest, and was always closely associated with the freedom struggle of India, giving encouragement to women volunteers.

            Kasturba was active in supervising the activities of the ashram and lived like a satyagrahi. She joined the Quit India Movement along with Gandhi.

             Gandhiji was arrested during the Quit India Movement in 1942. Later, Kasturba too got arrested along with many followers of Gandhiji. She was confined in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune.

            Kasturba Gandhi spent her last hours in the prison and she breathed her last in the lap of Gandhiji on 22nd February 1944. After her death, Gandhi indeed lost a pillar of strength in his life.

            “I cannot imagine life without Ba… her passing has left a vacuum which will never be filled”, Gandhi wrote. 

What was the Quit India Movement?

            The Quit India Movement was a civil disobedience movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi on 8th August 1942, at the Bombay Session of the All India Congress Committee.

            A resolution was passed demanding an immediate end to the British rule. A mass non-violent struggle was organized on the widest scale possible. Gandhiji’s slogan of ‘Do or Die’ inspired millions of Indians and strengthened their determination to die, rather than give up the goal of freedom. The British response to the movement was quick. The Congress was banned and most of its leaders were arrested before they could start mobilizing the people.

            The people, however, were unstoppable. They attacked all the symbols of the British government such as railway stations, law courts and police stations. Railway lines were damaged and telegraph lines were cut. In some places, people even formed alternative governments. The British responded to this with terrible brutality. However, though they could oppress the people, they could not suppress the people’s demand that foreign rulers should quit India. 

What was the role of the Cripps Mission?

          Winston Churchill’s declaration in the British Parliament to send Sir Stafford Cripps to India seemed a good decision.

          Sir Stafford Cripps arrived in Delhi on 22nd March1942 and immediately started his discussions with the Governor General and the counsellors.

          The leaders of different parties met him and consultations and discussions went on for twenty days. Nehru and Maulana Azad represented the Congress. Mohammed Ali Jinnah represented the Muslims and B.R. Ambedkar represented the socially backward classes. Leaders from all the communities of Indian society were represented.

          Cripps had prepared a draft declaration for Indian leaders which included terms like the establishment of dominion status for India, introduction of a constitutional assembly and the granting of rights to the provinces to make separate constitutions. These offers would be granted only after the conclusion of the war. The Congress committee rejected the proposals because they were related primarily to the future.

          Cripps proposals were suddenly withdrawn on 11th April 1942. The whole drama of the Cripps Mission to India seemed to be only a propaganda move, without any intention of acceding to India’s demands.

          Cripps Mission’s proposals were unacceptable to Gandhiji and the Congress. Commenting on this, Gandhiji said, “It is a post-dated cheque on a crashing bank”. 

Why is it said that World War II also brought significant changes in India?

            The British tried to lure India with the promise of a free state in return of their valuable support during war time. But the Indians were rebuffed when they were asked for Independence. Gandhiji did not accept this offer as he firmly believed in non-violence. 

            The period of the Second World War was a not only a period of external tensions, but also internal conflicts. The great famine of Bengal of 1943 was one of the many disasters India faced during the war.

            Despite the disastrous effects of World War II, it brought about a golden age in the colonies of Britain. The age of anxiety paved the way for the age of hope and freedom. Despite its many aftermaths, the end of the imperialistic era was glorious. The repercussion of the war occurred in all its colonies. India lost the lives of many army men. The cries for self-government and the loss of faith in the ruling imperialists were heard everywhere.

            Although Mahatma Gandhi works for India’s freedom from the British Empire since 1915, it was not until Britain was embroiled in World War II that the goal of Indian independence finally came within reach.

            In August of 1942, the All India Congress Committee gathered in Bombay, to formally endorse the Quit India movement, which called for an immediate end to British imperialism. 

Why was Gandhiji put into jail again once he got back from the Round Table Conference?

          Gandhiji returned from England to India on December 28th, 1931. He addressed a huge gathering in Bombay- “I have come back empty handed, but I have not compromised the honour of my country”.

          The British, intent on preventing any further civil disobedience movements in India, arrested Nehru and some other Congress leaders two days prior to Gandhiji’s arrival. Gandhiji was arrested on a century old regulation of no trial or no fixed term of imprisonment. Once again, he was confined in Yerwada prison.

          Dr. B.R. Ambedkar demanded voting rights for untouchables and also a separate electorate for them, because he believed that otherwise his men would be swayed away by the caste Hindus. Many leaders opposed this view. Gandhiji opposed it for a different reason- he believed that no line of separation should be established between untouchables and the mainstream of the society. Accordingly, Gandhiji started a fast, until death in prison for the voting rights of the Harijans. The steadfast decision and his goodwill were accepted.

          Gandhiji’s appeal and the efforts of the Congress leaders, soon led to a general campaign against untouchability. Many temples and wells throughout India were opened to the untouchables. But, unfortunately this campaign did not last very long. 

Why was Gandhiji’s visit to Lancashire significant?

               Lancashire was the heart of Britain’s textile industry, which was greatly affected by the boycott of foreign clothes by Indians. Therefore, Gandhiji’s visit to this place was a significant move.

               Gandhiji proclaimed at Springvale Garden Village, “There is no boycott of British cloth, as distinguished from other foreign cloth, since the 5th of March when the truce was signed. As a nation, we have pledged to boycott all foreign cloth, but in case of an honourable settlement between England and India, I should not hesitate to give preference to Lancashire cloth over all other foreign cloth, to the extent that we may need to supplement our cloth and on agreed terms”. He spoke of being the “representative of half-naked, half-starved dumb Indians”. He was pained by the unemployment created in the Lancashire cotton mills as a result of the boycott of foreign cloths in India. He did not fail to meet a single group of workers in the factory. And, he went on to explain the fact that there was no starvation or semi starvation among Lancashire workers. But, he said “we have both”. He told them about the poor standard of living of the Indians compared to the high resources they enjoyed.

               Even the unemployed workers were over-whelmed by Gandhiji’s answers. They were happier because such a mighty person from India came and spoke to them face to face.

              Gandhiji had no faith in creating his country’s happiness at the cost of the happiness of another country.

               The workers of the Lancashire villages understood that their condition was far better than that of the starving crores of people in India. Towards the conclusion of their communication, Gandhiji delivered the hope of an independent India which will be an equal partner for England in the future ahead.