Background of Government of India Act 1935

The proposal of the Communal award and its aftermath led Gandhi to focus his attention on the Harijan Welfare. Harijan upliftment was now to become his main concern. He started an all India Anti-untouchability league in September 1932 and the weekly Harijan paper in January 1933.

In 1933 he went out on a Congress Harijan Tour. He worked towards the social upliftment of these sections- openings of wells, roads, and particularly temples plus humanitarian work. However, by this the Civil Disobedience gradually slipped in the background.

Officially, the Civil Disobedience movement was suspended in May 1933 and it was finally withdrawn in May 1934.

  • The Swarajya Party was reconstituted and in the annual session of the Congress in October 1934, the Congress rejected the “White Paper”.
  • The Congress iterated that the only satisfactory alternative was a constitution drawn up by the Constituent Assembly which should be elected as far as possible on the basis of Adult Suffrage.
  • But the Communal award was not rejected by Congress. I was criticized only.

    A section of Congress led by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya broke away from the main body and started the “Congress Nationalist Party”. This party’s immediate job was to reject the communal award. By the end of 1934, the elections were held to the Central legislative assembly. Congress and Congress Nationalist party together secured more than half of the number of elected seats. Muslim League did not contest the elections. Jinnah returned to the assembly as an Independent.

  • The changes introduced by the Government of India act 1919 were too short of a self government in our country. There was only partial transfer of powers through a system of dyarchy. The act was inadequate to satisfy the National aspirations.
  • The division of subjects in Reserved and transferred was illogical and not acceptable. In November 1920, there were elections which were boycotted by the congress. The government of India act 1919 envisaged the centralization through the division of authority between the central and provincial governments in various fields of administration but central legislature was competent to legislate on the Provincial subjects and there was still no federal principle in operation and Government in India was still unitary.
  • The act of 1919 could not satisfy any one. The dyarchy as an experiment failed, when it was put to practice as there was no substantial transfer of power to the representatives of the people.
  • There was an emergence of a new spirit, zeal and unity among the educated Indians under the banner of Indian National Congress
  • In January 1915, Mahatma Gandhi had returned to India from South Africa. In may 1915 he established Sabarmati ashram in Gujarat.
  • The Champaran Agragarian dispute of North Bihar, a similar dispute in Gujarat at kaira and also a labor dispute in Ahmadabad made Mahatma Gandhi a national hero and his influential political career started. He devised a new technique Satyagraha.
  • The British were irked by the growing revolutionary terrorism and the ongoing First World War.
  • In 1919, a committee was established by the Governor general Chelmsford under the judge of the Kings Bench in London Sydney Rowlatt. The responsibility of this committee was to investigate into the nature and extent of revolutionary activities and suggest measures. This committee submitted its report in April 1918. Based upon the recommendations of this committee two bills were introduced. One was dropped and another was passed. The name of this passed bill, which was now an act was Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act which was called Rowlatt Act.
  • On February 6, 1919, Gandhi Ji decided to launch the Satyagraha and criticized the Rowlatt act as subversive and unjust and against the principles of liberty. The volunteers courted arrest and a strike was launched country wide on April 6, 1919. On April 13, 1919 the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy occurred and the Satyagraha lost momentum.
  • Before the government of India act 1935 passed, 3 round conferences in London were held. These have been discussed in our Independence struggle.
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