By 1927, communalism in India threatened to undo any cooperation between Hindu and
Muslim. The British, however, were soon to take action which restored that
The Government of India Act of1919 had stated that a commission was to be set up
after 10 years to enquire into the workings of the reforms set up in 1919. The British
Conservative government, however, feared that it might soon lose power to the Labour
Party, which it thought was too sympathetic to the beliefs of Indian nationalism. A
Labour government might make too many concessions.
So the Conservative government therefore decided to bring the date of the commission
forward. In 1927 it appointed a seven man committee under the chairmanship of Sir
John Simon to consider the situation in India. All members of the committee were
British and not one of them was Indian. Not surprisingly the composition of the
committee was considered an insult in India, and all parties became convinced that they
must settle their differences and work together in opposition to the Simon Commission.
Opposition to the Simon Commission:
At its Madras session in December1927, Congress decided that it would boycott the
Commission and called for mass demonstrations when the members of the Simon
Commission arrived in India. It also made a very important decision for the future of
the subcontinent when for the first time it came out in favour of complete
The Commission faced regular protests and demands that its unrepresentative members
return to England. In May 1928 members of the Congress, the League, the Liberals,
the Hindu Mahasabha and the Central Sikh League met in an All- Party Conference to
draft the constitution which the Indian people thought should be used to govern their
country. Pundit Motilal Nehru chaired the committee that devised this constitution,
and was contained in the `Nehru Report’. This was overwhelmingly approved by the All-
Party Conference in September 1928.
The Nehru Report:
The report called for:
Immediate Dominion status for India. This meant that India would become independent,
but would remain a member of the Commonwealth and accept the British monarch as
Head of State.
India to be a federation with a two- chamber parliament. There would become universal
suffrage to elect the lower house and the provincial councils.
Not separate electorates for any community or weightage for minorities. There was,
however, to be protection of the minorities through a system of reserving seats in the
No state religion and men and women saying that the British should have equal rights
Hindi to be made the official language of India
Gandhi proposed a resolution saying that the British should be given one year accept the
recommendations of the Nehru Report or a campaign of non-co- operation should begin.
The resolution was passed.
The Nehru Report Rejected
Although the Nehru Report had been drawn up by an All- Party Congress, many
Muslims were horrified by its proposals. It seemed that the views of the Muslims had
been ignored and that Congress was turning its back on the agreements it had made In
the Lucknow Pact. On January 21, 1929, the All India Muslims Conference rejected the
In an attempt to save the Report Jinnah proposed four changes which laid down the
demands of the Muslims in India in the clearest possible terms:
1. One- third of the elected representatives of both the houses of the central
legislature should be Muslims.
2. In the Punjab and Bengal, in the event of adult suffrage not being established,
there should be reservations of seats for the Muslims based on population for
3. Residuary powers should be left to the provinces and should not rest with the
4. The North- West Frointer Province and Sindh should have full provincial status.
Jinnah`s Fourteen Points:
1. Any future constitution should be federal, with power resting with the provinces.
2. All provinces should have the same amount of autonomy.
3. All legislatures and local bodies should be constituted with adequate
representation of minorities.
4. Muslims should have one- third of the seats in the Central Assembly.
5. Election should be by separate electorates.
6. Any territorial changes should not affect the Muslim majority in Bengal, the
Punjab and the NWFP.
7. Full liberty of belief and worship shall be granted to all communities.
8. No bill shall be passed in any elected body if 3|4 of any community in that body
9. Sindh shall be separated from Bombay.
10. There should be reforms in the NWP and Balochistan to put them on the same
footing as other provinces.
11. Muslims should have an adequate share in the services of the state.
12. Muslim culture, education, language, religion and charities should be protected by
13. All Cabinets (at central or local level) should have at least 1/3 Muslim
14. The federation of India must not change laws without the consent of the
The failure of Congress to accept these proposals was to have major impact on the
history of the sub- continent. Jinnah described this moment as the ` the parting of
the ways’ and it was certainly an important step in the eventual partition of India.
Jinnah would not try to reconcile Congress with the Muslim League again.
Instead it was time to make clear what was acceptable from the Muslim Point of
Jinnah`s Fourteen Points:
In January 1929 the All- India Muslim League met in conference in Delhi, where
Jinnah presented his Fourteen Points. In them he stated that `… no scheme for
the constitution of the Government of India will be acceptable … unless all the
following basic principles are given effect to’. He then set out points which were to
be the basis of Muslim demands from this time to the creation of Pakistan.
Although the events of the 1920s had divided the Muslims into a number of
fractions, they were united in agreeing that Jinnah`s Fourteen Points should form
the basis of any further discussions with Congress on the future of India. These were
formally accepted by the conference in March 1929.
As Fourteen Points were shortly followed by a rejection of the Nehru Report, it
was apparent that any Hindu- Muslim cooperation had now come to an end. Both
groups, however, continued to campaign separately against the British plans.
In December1929 Congress met in Lahore for what was to prove to be a historic
occasion. Jawaharlal Nehru was elected President of the session which now rejected
the idea of dominion status and instead called for complete independence. At
midnight on 31st December Nehru led a procession to the banks of River Ravi, where
the Indian flag was raised amidst cries of `Long live the revolution’. Three weeks
later a declaration of Indian independence, written by Gandhi was read out across
More non- cooperation:
As it had threatened, Congress also re- launched its non- cooperation campaign.
Gandhi was placed in charge of the campaign which began on 12 March with the
famous Salt March from his ashram (retreat) near Ahmedabad to the seaside village
of Dandi. This twenty- four day march became a triumphal procession which was
widely reported in the newspapers. The British forbade the making of salt, except
under licence from the government. The march was not only an attack on the unfair
Salt Laws, but was seen as the opportunity for Indians to disregard all unfair laws
and show opposition to British rule in any way possible. British cloth shops were
picketed and British schools, colleges and services boycotted.
In response, the British outlawed Congress, censored the newspapers and began
widespread arrests. Both Gandhi and Nehru were amongst the many Congress leaders
Jinnah disapproved of the non- cooperation plan as he felt that Congress was aiming
not only for independence for Britain, but also dominance over the Muslims.
Consequently, most Muslims did not join in the campaign.
The Allahabad Address:
At this time however, there was a very important moment in the history of
Pakistan. In 1930 the famous philosopher poet Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was
asked to chair a meeting of the Muslim League in Allahabad. In his presidential
address he called for the Muslims of the subcontinent to work towards achieving
an independent homeland. He argued that Islam had given its followers a creed
which united the Muslims of the subcontinent into one nation. There could be no
peace unless they were recognized as a nation and under a federal system the
areas of Muslim majority given the same privileges as the areas of Hindu
majority. He stated that he would like to see Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan
amalgamated into a single state, either within the British Empire, or outside it.
`The formation of a consolidated North- West India Muslim state appears to me
to be the final destiny of the Muslims’. It is interesting to note that Allama
Iqbal did not call for Kashmir or Bengal to be included, even though they were
both Muslim- majority areas.
Allama Iqbal`s contributes were extremely important to the Pakistan movement.
He was the first Muslim leader to suggest partition of the subcontinent in
keeping with the Two- Nation Theory. He has, therefore, been called the
father of the ideology of Pakistan.
His views acted as an inspiration to many Muslims who were uncertain about
how to defend their religion and culture. Iqbal gave them a clear- cut
objective, as he set out a goal for Muslims to work towards.
Allama Iqbal was also the inspiration for other Muslim leaders. In 1933
Rahmat Ali`s Pakistan scheme was built upon his ideas. They were also to be
the basis of Jinnah’s `Pakistan Resolution’ in 1940.
Iqbal`s poetry was a source of inspiration for the Muslims of India. It kindled
a sense of nationhood and motivated them to work hard to achieve their
The Round Table Conferences:
Despite the opposition it faced, the Simon Commission still managed to
produce a two- volume report in 1930. The report had little in it to cheer
the Muslim community. Although it supported the idea of separate
electorates, it rejected Muslims having a one- third share of seats in the
Central Assembly and the idea of Sindh being separated from Bombay. The
British then called a Round Table Conference to discuss the Commission`s
The Round Table Conferences- November 1930:
The first conference was held in London in November1930. It was attended by
the Muslim League, the Liberals and representatives of the Princely States.
However, Congress refused to attend unless there was guarantee that anything
agreed at the conference would be implemented. No such guarantee was given.
Instead of attending, Congress began its programme of non- cooperation. Since
Congress was India`s largest party, it was difficult for significant progress to be
made in the talks in its absence. However, some advances were made:
The princes declared that they would join a future federation of India as
long as their rights were recognized.
The British agreed the representative government should be introduced at
provincial level. Some ground had been gained.
The Muslims, whose representatives included Jinnah, Maulana Muhammad Ali and
the Agha Khan, left the conference feeling some ground had been gained.
The Second Round Table Conference September 1931:
When the Indian representatives returned from the first Round Table Conference,
they urged Gandhi to stop his non- cooperation and agree to attend the next
set of talks. In February 1931 Gandhi met the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, in the first
of a series of meetings to agree the terms of future progress. Some British
politicians, especially Winston Churchill, objected to Irwin holding talks with
someone who had just been imprisoned for opposition to British rule. Irwin,
however, understood the need to bring Congress into the discussions.
So on 5 March 1931 the `Gandhi- Irwin Pact’ was signed. Irwin agreed to release
most political prisoners and return property seized by the government; Gandhi
agreed to call off the non- cooperation campaign and attend the next round of
talks. He also agreed to give up his demand for full independence in return for a
promise that in a federal India, Indians would have a genuine say in how they
The Labour Party had lost power in Britain and the new coalition
government was less keen to reach a compromise in India.
Gandhi took a hard line in the talks and refused to recognize the problems
of the minorities in the subcontinent.
Consequently little was achieved at the conference, other than an agreement
that the NWFP and Sindh should be made provinces with their own governers.
The British warned that if agreement could not soon be reached, they would
impose their own solution to the ` Indian problem’.
The Communal Award 1932:
The British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, saw himself as `a friend of the
Indians’ and wanted to thus resolve the issues in India. After the failure of the
Second Round Table conference, he announced the ` Communal Award’ on August
This gave the right of separate electorate to all the minority communities in the
country. The principle of weightage was also applied.
The Award was not popular with the Muslims as it hard reduced their majority
in Punjab and Bengal. For example in the Punjab, although the Muslims
constituted almost 56 percent of the total population of Punjab, they were
given only 86 out of 175 seats in the Punjab Assembly. However, they were
prepared to accept the Award and the League passed a resolution saying “though
the decision falls far short of the Muslim demands, the Muslims have accepted it
in the best interest of the country, reserving to themselves the right to press
for the acceptance of all their demands.”
Congress rejected the Award and decided to launch a campaign against it. Gandhi
protested against the declaration of Untouchables as a minority and undertook a
fast unto death. He also held meetings with the Untouchable leadership for the
first time to persuade them that they were not minorities, but part of
mainstream Hindu society.