Chapter 24: SIMON COMMISSION

Introduction


The Government of India Act 1919 made a provision for a review committee on its working after 10 years. However the conservative government was staring at defeat and it felt that this constitutional question couldn’t be left in the hands of inexperienced labor party. Thus the Indian statutory commission popularly known as the Simon commission was appointed in 1927.


However as no Indian was on the committee it was met with boycott unanimously throughout India by all parties. The Muslim league was split on this but Jinnah carried majority with him in favor of boycott.


Protests against the Commission


Wherever the committee went it was greeted with black flags and hartals. The police response to was brutal and many places saw lathi charges even on senior leaders. The youth got a chance for political demonstrations and many youth leagues sprang up throughout the country. 


Jawaharlal Nehru and SC Bose were the leaders who toured the country and presided over innumerable youth conferences. Both these leaders were deeply influenced by socialism [though Nehru’s ideas were more scientific than Bose]. The youth drawn into the national struggle also were introduced to socialist ideas.


Nehru Report


The secretary of state had complained that the Indians couldn’t create a report on constitutional reforms that would be support by political opinion. In response to this the congress produced the Nehru report authored by Motilal Nehru. It demanded dominion status for India. 


Other demands were reservations for Muslims in Muslim minority areas not Muslim majority areas; separation of state and religion; freedom to form unions; equal right for women; universal adult suffrage, no separate electorates.

The Muslim league was opposed to the provision on no reservations in Muslim majority areas this led Jinnah to come up with his fourteen point plan.


Nationalists led by Jawaharlal Nehru and Bose to had objections on the Nehru report. They wanted Purna Swaraj as the goal of the congress and not dominion status. But Gandhiji and others felt that it would be too hasty. At the Calcutta session, a compromise was made here and it was decided to give the government a year to accept a constitution based on dominion status. If that didn’t happen then congress would accept complete independence as its goal and launch a civil disobedience to achieve it.


Recommendations of the Simon Commission


Simon Commission [1927]: The recommendations were continuation of communal representation, abolition of diarchy, extension of responsible government in provinces, creation of Indian federation of British India and princely states.


The new government of the labor party was in power and the PM Ramsey McDonald declared that once the Simon committee submits its report a round table would be convened to discuss dominion status to India. Following this declaration a conference of all major leaders met an issued the Delhi manifesto, it made clear that the purpose of the round table wouldn’t be too discuss when dominion status would be given but to make an implementation plan. Viceroy Irwin told Gandhiji that such a promise can’t be made. Hence the confrontation was necessary.


Lahore Session and Purna Swaraj


At the Lahore session of the congress the historic declaration of Purna Swaraj was made in 1929. The flag of Indian independence was unfurled on the banks of Ravi on 31st December 1929. On Gandhiji’s insistence Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed the president after his father Motilal Nehru. Gandhiji insisted this was due to the sacrifice of the youth and in recognizing their contribution to the Simon boycott.


On 26th January 1930 the Purna Swaraj pledge was taken by Indians. The Lahore session gave the working committee to chalk out a plan for civil disobedience. Gandhiji gave an ultimatum to Viceroy Irwin saying 11 points demanded have been ignored and so no other option is with the congress except civil disobedience.

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