INTRODUCTION TO INDIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (1939-1945)

 

UNIT STRUCTURE

1. Learning Objectives
2. Introduction
3. Second World War and the Indian National Movement

1. Rise of Communal Politics - The Pakistan Resolution
2. Quit India Movement


4. Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army
5. Let Us sum Up
6. Further Readings
7. Answers To Check Your Progress
8. Possible Questions

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

 
After going through this unit, you will be able to:
discuss the political scenario of India during the Second World War,
discuss the communal politics which took a firm grip on Indian Government during this period,
explain the circumstances that led to the Quit India Movement,
list the importance of the Quit India Movement,
discuss the contribution of Subhash Chandra Bose to the Indian National Movement.

INTRODUCTION


The Second World War broke out in Europe in 1939 and continued till 1945. During this period the Indian National Movement took a new turn. The communal politics took the ground. The Muslim League put forward the demand for a separate nation. Mahatma Gandhi adopted a new set of programmes. The last of his series of movements, the Quit India Movement, was started by him. Though the movement did not succeed, it made the British realise that they could no longer deny the cry for freedom made by the Indian people. During this period Subhash Chandra Bose tried to make his country free from the British rule by forming the Indian National Army (INA).
 

SECOND WORLD WAR AND THE INDIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT


The Second World War broke out in September 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in pursuance of Hitler’s scheme for German expansion. England declared war against Germany on September 3, 1939 and the same day Viceroy Lord Linlithgow dragged India into war without consulting the leaders of Indian political parties. The Indian National Congress strongly reacted against this one sided decision of the Viceroy. The Congress made it clear to the British Government that India was always willing to help England to the best of her might and ability provided the latter makes a clear declaration to free India after the war. But the British attitude remained evasive. Consequently, all the Congress ministries resigned on October 22, 1939.


Rise of Communal Politics - Pakistan Resolution


The relation between the Congress and the Muslim League had worsened due to the Muslim League’s failure to achieve any success even in the Muslim majority provinces like Sindh, Punjab and Bengal in the election of 1937. The formation of the Congress ministries in seven provinces and refusal of the Congress to form a ministry with the support of the Muslim League in United Provinces was resented. The League raised the cry of “Islam is in danger” and termed the Indian National Congress as an organization of the Hindus. When the Congress ministries resigned on December 22 the Muslim League celebrated ‘Liberation Day’ all over the country. On the very same day the League passed a resolution blaming the Congress ministries of violating the religious, social and political rights of the Muslims. This policy of the League provided a surge to the poisonous tree of communalism. The League proposed the ‘Two Nation Theory’ and tried its best to assure the Muslim masses and the British rulers that Muslim interests were not common with the Hindus, rather the existence of the minority Muslims was always in danger because of the majority Hindus. In its Lahore Session of March 1940, the League passed the Pakistan Resolution where the demand for an independent and sovereign Pakistan was raised. It is worthy to mention that a plan for partitioning the country and formation of Pakistan was under active consideration since long ago. In 1939, Muhammad Iqbal in his Presidential remarks of the League had laid emphasis on the establishment of a separate state in order to protect the interests of the Muslims. However, the word ‘Pakistan’ was first used in January 1930 in a pamphlet ‘Now or Never’ brought out by Cambridge University student Chaudhari Rahamot Ali and three of his companions.

The communal problems underwent a complete change after the passing of ‘Pakistan Resolution’ in Lahore session. The League gave up its stance of separate electorates and the protection of the rights of minorities. Now its demand was the partition of the country. The League opposed the Quit India Movement of the Congress and, exploiting the circumstances, launched a strong movement in favour of Pakistan when almost all the Congress leaders were behind bars. The newspapers like Dawn, Anjam, Jang, Inquilab, Hamdam and Ajad made a strong case in favour of the creation of Pakistan.

It is worthwhile to note that all the Muslims were not in favour of this demand of the League. Jamayaate - ul - Ulema - i - Hind strongly opposed the League’s demand for Pakistan and laid stress on the point that every Muslim was an Indian from the nationalistic point of view. The Muslim organizations like Khudai - Khidmadgarh, Majlis - i -Ahrar - i - Hind, All India Momin Conference and All India Shia Political Conference too did not favour the partition of India. However, despite opposition from all of them the Muslim League stuck to its demand for Pakistan.

Quit India Movement


In order to garner Indian support for the Second World War and to end the Indian constitutional deadlock, the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow made an offer on August 8, 1940, which came to be known as ‘August Offer’. But this offer did not mention anything about the complete independence demand made by the Congress. So it was rejected by the Congress Working Committee. The August Offer resulted in increasing the tension between the Congress and the government. When Gandhiji’s appeal to the Viceroy fell on deaf ears, the Congress decided to launch Individual Satyagraha in order to express its resentment against the British Government’s attitude towards India and to attract world attention towards India’s struggle for independence. On October 17, 1940, Gandhiji declared the launching of this movement by appointing Vinoba Bhabe to be the first Satyagrahi. Vinoba Bhabe was arrested on October 21. Gandhiji chose Jawaharlal Nehru as the second Satyagrahi, who was also arrested. The government placed the press under strict control and banned the publication of Gandhiji’s papers ‘Harijan Bandhu’ and ‘Harijan Sewak’. Soon almost all the prominent Congress leaders were put behind bars. The Individual Satyagraha continued from October 1940 to January 1942. Its main objective was to express faith in truth and non-violence and to demand the right of freedom of speech for Indians to express their opposition to the war. Though the movement could not become a success, it made it amply clear to the world that India’s most important political organization , the Indian National Congress and the Indian masses were against the Second World War. As the British Government was eager to seek Indian cooperation in the war the Satyagrahis were released from the prison. Considering the crisis the Congress Working Committee withdrew the Individual Satyagraha.

In the meantime the position of the Allies in the Second World War was going from bad to worse. Japanese forces occupied Rangoon in March 1942 and thus the war reached the threshold of India. Hence Britain’s allies America and China started putting pressure on Britain to accede to India’s demand for freedom.

Thus, in order to initiate a dialogue with the Indian leaders and also to seek their cooperation in the war efforts, the British Government sent in March 1942, a mission to India headed by Sir Stafford Cripps, the leader of the House of Commons.

The mission proposed that India would be given Dominion Status under the British Commonwealth after the war. It also proposed that a constitution making body would be created to draft a constitution for the Indian states. The provinces were given the right of remaining out of the Indian Union in case they did not approve of the new constitution. None of the political parties accepted the Cripps proposals. The British Prime Minister Churchill was not in a mood to concede independence to India. The apprehension of Japanese attack on India was rising steadily. Gandhiji was of the opinion that the British presence in India was encouraging Japanese aggression on the country. In an article dated April 26, 1942 Gandhiji appealed to the British to leave India in an orderly manner. But the British turned a deaf ear to it. Hence he made up his mind to launch a mass movement to oust the British from India.

On August 8, 1942, the All India Congress Committee met in Bombay. It passed the historic ‘Quit India’ resolution and decided to launch a non-violent mass struggle under Gandhiji to achieve this goal. The resolution declared: “the immediate ending of British rule in India is an urgent necessity, both for the sake of India and for the success of the cause of the United Nations. The ending of British rule in the country is thus a vital and immediate issue on which depends the future of the war and the success of freedom and democracy”. Addressing the Congress delegates on the night of 8 August, Gandhiji said that he wanted freedom immediately. He gave the people a mantra - “Do or Die”. No definite plan was formulated regarding the programmes of this movement. A small booklet containing a 12 point programme instructing the masses to resort to peaceful hartals, public rallies, salt making and non-payment of land revenue was published, but it was confiscated by the government on August 11, 1942. Gandhiji advised the masses to make non-violence the basis of the movement and said that every person should guide himself. But the British Government was already prepared to face the situation. Gandhiji and other prominent Congress leaders were arrested early in the morning of August 9. The Congress was declared illegal and a policy of harsh repression was adopted towards the agitators. But the excitement and resentment of the masses increased with the intensification of the government’s repressive measure. Gandhiji’s mantra ‘Do or Die’ became very popular among the common masses.

The Congress Socialist Party furthered the movement after the arrest of almost all the prominent leaders of the Congress. The important Congress Socialist Party leaders like Ram Monohar Lohia, Achyut Patvardhan, S.M. Joshi and Ramananda Mishra, etc decided to continue the movement while working underground. Students, workers and peasants proved to be the main base of this movement. Three generations of Indians i.e., school students, college and university youth and experienced politicians all collectively participated in this movement.

In the first phase of the movement from 9th August to 11th August hartals, demonstrations and public meetings were held in the cities and the towns. The workers struck their work in mills and factories. However, workers under the influence of communism remained loyal to the government. Railway lines and telephone cables were cut off at many places and government buildings were put to fire. British authority disappeared in the United Provinces, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and West Bengal and at many places in Maharashtra. In some areas such as Balia in modern Uttar Pradesh, Tamluk in Midnapore district of Bengal and Satara district of Bombay, the agitators set up parallel governments after overthrowing the British authority.

Gradually, the movement reached the villages. Armed crowd attacked the government buildings and hurled bombs at various places in Bengal, Madras, Bombay and United Provinces. The people resorted to violence as a result of the harsh repressive policy followed by the government. On May 6, 1944, Gandhiji was released from jail. By this time the Second World War was coming to an end. In July 1944, the British Government slowly started releasing the political prisoners. As a result of it, the Quit India Movement also came to an end.

The lower middle class made a significant contribution in this movement. More than seven thousand people lost their lives during the movement and more than sixty thousand were made prisoners. Factors like defective organization and programme, loyalty of the government servants and officials, harsh repressive policy of the government and lack of support of all the communities and the political parties mainly contributed to the failure of this movement. The Communists did not support the Congress proposals of August 1942. The Muslim League also did not cooperate. Anglo-Indians opposed the movement .The Parsis supported the movement but the Sikh and the Hindu Mahasabha remained indifferent to it.

The Quit India Movement was the last great struggle launched for the freedom of India. Although the movement failed to achieve its goal immediately, its contribution to the freedom struggle of India was really very significant. It emboldened the common masses to face the harsh repressive policies of the government and turned the prisons into the places of pilgrimage. The fire of this movement burnt all the talks of Dominion Status into ashes and India now wanted nothing less than complete independence. It compelled the various political parties of England to give a serious thought to the Indian problem and the British withdrawal from India became certain.

LET US KNOW

Hindu Mahasabha was established by Madan Mohan Malviya in 1915 on the occasion of Kumbh Mela at Haridwar. Leaders like V.D. Savarkar, Dr. V.S. Munje and Lala Lajpat Rai took part in it. The main objective of this Sabha was to awaken the Hindus socially and politically. However, its influence in the Indian National Movement remained limited as at a later period it was considered responsible for creating communal feeling among the Hindus.


ACTIVITY


Write three proposals made by the Cripps Mission

CHECK YOUR PROGRESS



1. Match the following:

a) The Second World War started on 1) October 17, 1940
b) Pakistan Resolution was passed on 2) 8 August, 1942
c) August offer was passed on 3) March 1942
d) Individual Satyagraha was started on 4) September 3, 1939
e) Cripps Mission was sent in 5) March 1940
f) Quit India Resolution was passed on 6) August 8, 1940

2. Fill in the blanks:

a) On December 22, 1939, the Muslim League observed

b) The word ‘Pakistan’ was first used in January 1930 in ________________.

c) The first individual Satyagrahi was ______________ .

d) ______________ was the head of the Cripps Mission.

e) On the eve of the Quit India Movement Gandhiji gave the people a mantra __________.

f) In some areas such as Balia in modern UP the agitators set up ____________ overthrowing the British authority.


SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE AND THE INDIAN NATIONAL ARMY (INA)


Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army occupies a very important place in the history of the Indian National Movement. Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack. His father Janki Nath was a seasoned lawyer and a social reformer. He proved his extraordinary talent by securing fourth position in the Indian Civil Service Examination in 1920. But in May 1921, he resigned from the Indian Civil Service and devoted himself fully to the service of the country. He developed some differences with Gandhiji due to the sudden suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement by the latter. He extended significant cooperation to Desbandhu Chittaranjan Das in the formation of Swarajya Party and became the editor of ‘Forward’ a paper published by the party. He formed the Independent League in 1928 with the cooperation of Jawaharlal Nehru. He rejoined Congress after it passed the resolution of ‘Complete Independence’ in December 1929 in its Lahore session.

Subhas Chandra Bose was a supporter of Tilak’s extremism. He was elected the President of the Congress in its Haripura session in 1938. Due to his revolutionary views, he had developed some differences of opinion with Gandhiji. He wanted that the Indian National Congress should declare a definite date for the achievement of freedom. Bose was elected President of the Tripuri session of the Congress. But he had to leave the Indian National Congress in view of Gandhiji’s opposition and organized the ‘Forward Bloc’ in 1939. Very soon a large member of youth joined his party. He believed that it was very difficult to achieve independence without external support. Subhas Chandra Bose wanted to get the country immediately free by taking advantage of the circumstances arising out of the Second World War. During this period he came into contact with Vir Savarkar. Vir Savarkar inspired him to leave the country and work for the freedom of the country from an alien land. But Subhash was arrested under the Defence of India Rules on July 2, 1940 and was imprisoned in the Presidency Jail in Calcutta. Later on he was put on house arrest.

However, on January 17, 1941 Subhas managed to escape in the guise of a Khilji Pathan and was successful in reaching Berlin after facing many hardships. Subhas believed in the popular maxim,’ enemy’s enemy is a friend’. Hitler and Mussolini irrespective of their political ideology were enemies of imperial Anglo-French bloc. Hence, they were India’s friends and could help India in uprooting British rule from India. Further, Bose realised that ‘Britain’s difficulty was India’s opportunity’. He did not hesitate to align himself with Fascist forces against the British in order to achieve his goal of a free India. He formed a Liberation Army in Germany and propagated against the British Government from the Berlin radio. It was in Germany that he came to be known as ‘Netaji’.

In the meantime, Japan also joined the war against Britain on December 7, 1941. Therefore, Bose went to Japan in 1943 so that an armed struggle could be launched against the British with Japanese help. In those days, the famous Indian revolutionary Ras Bihari Bose was in Japan. He along with Captain Mohan Singh who was an officer of the British Indian Army had organized an Indian National Army in Singapore from among the Indian prisoners of war, with the help of Japan. On the invitation of Ras Bihari Bose, Netaji arrived in Tokyo, the capital of Japan on June 20, 1943 where Ras Bihari Bose handed over to him the command of the Indian National Army. On October 21, 1943, Netaji formed the Ajad Hind Government of free India in Singapore. As the Commander - in - Chief of I.N.A on November 8, 1943, Japan handed over the Andaman and Nicober Islands to Subhas Chandra Bose which was named Shaheed Dweep and Swarajya Dweep respectively. In January, 1944 Rangoon was made the headquarters of Azad Hind Government.

Subhas Chandra Bose divided the Indian National Army into Gandhi, Azad, Nehru, Subhas and Rani Jhansi brigades and quickened the activities to deliver mother India from the bonds of slavery. The Indian National Army raising the battle cries of Delhi Chalo and Jai Hind headed to the border of Assam and Manipur. By February 1944, the Indian National Army was successful in freeing Kohima, Palel, Tiddim, etc from British control. In March 1944, this army reached Imphal and was able to free around 250 square miles of Indian land. On December 22, 1944 Subhas Chandra Bose celebrated ‘Martyrs Day’.

But suddenly there occurred a dramatic change in the war position. In the second half of 1944, Japan started losing in the World War. With the Allies taking control over Rangoon, the capital of Burma, the Indian National Army had to withdraw itself from Burma. The defeat of Japan decided the fate of the Indian National Army. Most of the soldiers and officials of the Indian National Army were made prisoners. On his way to Tokyo from Bangkok, Netaji was reportedly killed in an air crash near Formosa island. The Government decided to put three main officers of Indian National Army - Colonel Shahnawaz Khan, Lt. Prem Kumar Sehgal and Captain Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon on trial in November, 1945.They were tried in a special Army Court in the Red Fort at Delhi. The Court declared the three accused guilty and awarded them death sentences. Consequently, a wave of resentment originated among the masses. In the end, the Government had to bow before the popular Indian opinion. The Viceroy using his special powers set them free.

Indeed, Subhas Chandra Bose was an immortal soldier of the Indian struggle for freedom. It is true, that the INA could not achieve its immediate object, but there is no denying the fact that its activities brought the country very near the portals of freedom.

ACTIVITY


Write five lines about I.N.A.


CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


1. Answer the following:
a) When was Subhas Chandra Bose elected as President of the Indian National Congress for the first time?

b) Name the party organized by Subhas Chandra Bose in 1939?

c) Who was Ras Bihari Bose?

d) Where was the ‘Azad Hind’ Government formed and by whom?

2. Fill in the blanks:

a) Subhas Chandra Bose was the editor of _______________, a paper published.

b) _______________ inspired Subhas Chandra Bose to leave the country and work for the freedom of the country from an alien land.

c) Subhas Chandra Bose came to be known as ‘Netaji’ for the first time in ___________.

d) On December 22, 1944, Subhas Chandra Bose celebrated the____________.


 


LET US SUM UP


In this unit we have learnt about the developments that took place during the period of the Second World War (1939-1945). We have also learnt that the War had brought about changes in the political field of India. The British Government tried hard to get cooperation from the Indian people in the War. So they sent the Cripps Mission, the proposals of which did not satisfy the people. Gandhiji and the Indian National Congress made new plans like Individual Satyagraha and then the Quit India Movement. It became hard for the government to further deny the much sought freedom. Subhas Chandra Bose and his I.N.A. posed a challenge to the British Government. Ultimately the British Government was bound to consider the idea of granting freedom to India.

FURTHER READING


1. Chandra, Bipan: Indian’s Struggle For Independence
2. Sarkar, Sumit,: Modern India
3. Dutt, P. P. : India Today

ANSWERS TO CHECK YOUR PROGRESS


 
1. CHECK YOUR PROGRESS: A

1.
a) 4
b) 5
c) 6
d) 1
e) 3
f) 2

2. a) Liberation day b) A pamphlet ‘ Now or Never’ c) Vinoba Bhabe d) Stafford Cripps e) Do or Die f) Parallel government
2. CHECK YOUR PROGRESS: B

1. a) 1938
b) Forward Bloc
c) A famous Indian revolutionary
d) In Singapore by Subhas Chandra Bose

2. a) Forward
b) Vir Savarkar
c) Germany
d) Martyrs Day

POSSIBLE QUESTIONS


1. Throw light on the growth of the Indian National Movement during the Second World War.

2. Under what circumstances did the Muslim League pass the Pakistan Resolution?

3. Discuss the circumstances under which the Quit India Movement was launched. What was its main feature?

4. Write a note on Individual Satyagraha.

5. Discuss in brief how the Quit India Movement proceeded. Throw light on the British attitude towards it.

6. Make an assessment of the contribution of Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army in the Indian National Movement.