First Round Table Conference 1930
First Round Table Conference was first among the three such conferences organized between 1930 and 1932 by British government towards constitutional reforms in India. These conferences were conducted as per 1930 report of Simon Commission. First Round Table Conference was held between November 1930 and January 1931. It was officially inaugurated on November 12, 1930 at House of Lords at London by the British King (George V) and was chaired by then British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald.
The participants of the First Round Table conference included:
- Total 16 delegates from three British Political Parties
- Total 74 delegates from India comprising:
- 58 delegates from political parties in India
- 16 delegates from princely states
However, neither Indian National Congress nor any prominent political or business leaders from India participated in it because most of them were lodged into jails for their participation in Civil Disobedience Movement.
The most notable Indian leaders’ participating in the conference were as follows:
- Muslim League: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Shafi, Aga Khan, Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, A.K. Fazlul Huq
- Hindu Mahasabha: S. Moonje and M.R. Jayakar
- Indian Liberal Party : Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamani and Srinivasa Sastri
- Sikhs: Sardar Ujjal Singh
- The Untouchables: R. Ambedkar
- Dewans of many princely states.
Proceedings and outcomes
This conference included eight plenary meetings and one final concluding session. The issues including India’s proposed federal structure, defence, issues related to Sindh and NWFP, issues related to Burma, defence related issues, issues related to minorities were discussed. However, since INC did not participate in it, its outcomes were almost insignificant.
The idea of All-India Federation was moved by Tej Bahadur Sapru in First Round Table Conference. It was supported by most participants including princely states provided their internal sovereignty was guaranteed. Muslim League also supported this idea. The British government agreed to introduce a representative government at provincial level in India. The British agreed that representative government should be introduced on provincial level.
Demand of Separate Electorates by B R Ambedkar
A demand for separate electorates for the Untouchables was put forward by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. In fact, there was a firm agreement and recommendation of the first Round Table Conference to the representation of Muslims, Indian Christians, Sikhs, Depressed Classes (dalits), Anglo-Indians and Europeans.
After the failure of the First Round Conference, many leaders mainly the pro-Bitish members of Indian Liberal Party such as Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamani and Srinivasa Sastri appealed Gandhi to talk with the Viceroy. The talks between Gandhi and Irwin were arranged. Many congress leaders were released to make a favorable environment.