Lord Irwin served as Governor-General of India from 1926-1931 after Earl of Reading. His era is very crucial in the independence of India. A lot of significant events happened when he was Viceroy.
When the Government of India Act of 1919 was passed, there was a clause in it that after ten years, the government would create a commission to investigate further about Montage-Chelmsford reforms. Already no one in India agreed with Montage-Chelmsford reforms. Lord Irwin appointed a commission under Sir John Simon, consisting of seven members. All members were British, and there was no from India.
On 3 February 1928, the Simon commission reached India. Many Indians were already against it before the arrival of the Commission. In February, Lala Lajpat Bai moved a motion in assembly to boycott the Simon Commission, and the majority accepted it. But this motion and protest couldn’t stop the Commission.
At that time Muslim league was divided into two groups. One group was the Muhammad Shafee group, and another one was the Jinnah group. Muhammad Shafee group was in favor of Simon’s Commission, but the Jinnah group rejected it.
The Commission began his visit in India. People were protesting all over India. The most terrible incident happened in Lahore when Lala Lajpat Bai died while leading to the protestor. In April 1929, the Commission finalized its report and submitted it to the chairman of commission “John Simon.”
The recommendation of Simon commission was below:
- In India, there should be a federal system of governance.
- The power of provincial governors should be reduced.
- The Dyarchy system, which was introduced in the Government of India act 1919, should be abolished.
- The right to vote should be given to more people.
- A committee should be made regarding the separation of Sindh from Bombay.
The report was rejected by both Muslims and Hindu.
Nehru Report 1928
When the Muslim League and Congress rejected the Simon Commission, then secretary of state “Lord Birkenhead” challenged the Indian “If they have the capability to make a unanimous constitution then make it and present us. We will implement it.” After this, representatives from all parties of India met in Delhi to make a constitution, but they got failed even after three meetings. At last, in the third meeting, a committee was formed under Motilal-Nehru to form the constitution of India. The committee made a report which is called the “Nehru Report”, which was presented in 1928. The report was presented in the fourth all parties meeting.
Some key points of the Nehru report are below.
- In India, there should be a bi-Cameral system. House of representative and senate
- Governor-General will decide on the advice of the Executive Council.
- In India, there should be a Federal governance system.
- There will be no separate electorate for any minority in India.
- There will be no reserved seats in the House of representatives for minorities like Muslims, Sikhs, Untouchables, Christians, etc.
- Judiciary will be separated from the executive.
- In the center, only ¼ representatives of Muslims.
- Reforms should be introduced in NWFP.
There were two Muslims in committee, which formed the “Nehru Report.” Shoaib Nazeer and Syed Imam Ali. Syed Imam Ali was very ill in those days, and Shoaib Nazeer refused to sign the report. Quaid-e-Azam rejected this report, and then he presented Fourteen Points.
Fourteen points of Jinnah
After rejecting the Nehru Report, Jinnah proposed “Fourteen Points.” He said the constitution of India cannot be made until the interest of Muslims is not protected in it. Among fourteen points
- In India, there should be a federal governance system.
- A uniform autonomy should be given to provinces.
- Muslim representation in the central legislature should not be less than 1/3.
- Any change in territories should not affect the majority of Muslims in Bengal, Punjab, and NWFP.
- Complete freedom of religion should be given to everyone.
- No motion or bill can pass until ¾ members of the legislative assembly approve it.
- Sindh should be separated from Bombay and made a separate province.
- In NWFP and Baluchistan, reforms should be introduced.
- A fair share of posts should be given to Muslims in the center and provinces.
- No cabinet can form until there is a 1/3 ratio of Muslim ministers.
Purna Swaraj Declaration
When Nehru report was presented, Congress asked people to observe 26– January 1930 as an Independence Day of United India. But the report was rejected by Muslims so that it couldn’t make the constitution.
Congress introduced the flag even, and in December- 1929, Jawaharlal -Nehru hoisted the flag of India on the bank of River-Ravi Lahore.
Mahatma Gandhi started the Salt March on 12 March 1930-6 April 1930. He marched near 390 km Ashram to Dandi during this protest. Initially, 78 people began this march with him, but millions of people joined him as time passed. Gandhi Chose salt commodity for the rally because he knew Salt was the most used commodity in houses, and secondly British had a monopoly on Indian Salt. British had put a heavy tax on it. Nearly 10 % of Britain’s income came from Salt taxes. As more and more people started to join, it put more and more pressure on the British.
During the salt march, Gandhi also wrote many articles in many international newspapers. In this march, thousands of people became imprisoned, even Gandhi Je also.
On 29 December 1930, Allama Iqbal addressed Allahabad to the Muslim people of India. He gave the idea of a separate homeland/ Country for Muslims. In his address, he said Muslims are a separate nation, and in a new homeland, they can live according to the principles of Islam. Due to many reasons like Partition of Bengal, Nehru Report, and violence with Muslims made it clear for Iqbal that there is no alternative solution except separate homeland.
As the permanent solution, Iqbal proposed that NWFP, Punjab, Baluchistan, and Sindh be converted into independent countries. And this country should be self-governed or within OR without the British Empire.
First Round Table Conference
Round table conferences were a series of conferences to decide the constitution of India. Because Indians have rejected the Simon Commission report, Nehru Report was not acceptable for Muslims, and Congress rejected the Fourteen Points of Quaid-e-Azzam. So, it was too much difficult to make constitute for India. To resolve this problem, British Prime minister Ramsay MacDonald called all parties of India for a round table conference.
Muslim League leaders went to London and attended this meeting. But Congress leaders rejected it, and they were in jail, including Gandhi jee due to the Civil disobedience movement and Salt March. So, Congress was absent it first Round Table Conference. In the first meeting, it was decided that the governance system would be federal, Sindh would be made a separate province, and proper autonomy would be given to provinces. On 19 January 1931, the conference was ended.
But Lord Irwin decided that there would be no output until Congress joined the conference. So, Lord Irwin met with Gandhi and made a Gandhi-Irwin pact.
Gandhi Irwin Pact 1931
The Gandhi Irwin pact was signed on 5 March 1931 before Second Round Table Conference.
- The conditions of the pact are below.
- Congress will end the Salt March.
- Congress will participate in Second Round Table Conference.
- The British government will impose the ordinance which had banned the Congress
- Withdraw of Rowlatt Act.
- Release all prisoners of Salt March
- Remove taxes on Salt and also allow Indian people to trade it.