This article provides a Notes on Gandhi–Irwin Pact and Aftermath!
With the efforts of Dr. Jayakar and Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Gandhi Irwin Pact was signed in 1931 by which all political prisoners were released and Congress agreed to withdraw civil disobedience movement, this paved way for the Congress to participate in Second Round-Table Conference, which was convened next year to find a solution to India’s political problem.
In the conference communal and vested interests were given upper most prominence. In the words of Jawahar Lal Nehru, at the conference Gandhiji was the only representative who thought in terms of nation as a whole.
This conference too failed, with the result that civil disobedience movement was again started. To deal with the situation government issued several ordinances to get extraordinary powers and the press was gagged. There were repressions and so on.
Since no solution to the political problem in India was insight, therefore, Lord MacDonald gave his Communal Award on August 16, 1932 with which separate electorates for special interests and minorities and the Muslims were retained. Depressed classes were also given recognition as minorities.
Weightage was given to the Muslims in Muslim majority provinces. Three per cent seats were reserved for women and separate electorate was provided for Indian Christians and Anglo-Indians. Seats were also reserved for labour, commerce, landlords and planters.
This Award was protested all over the country because it was unfair to the Hindus and gave over representation to Christians and Europeans. It was also detrimental to national unity and aimed at perpetuation of dissensions among the Hindus.
In order to undo the mischief of MacDonald Award Gandhiji decided to go on fast unto death. His health badly deteriorated and in a bid to save Gandhiji’s life Poona Pact was signed on September 20, 1932, with which much of the harm done on account of the Award was undone.
In order to solve India’s political problem a Third Round. Table Conference was convened on November 17, 1932, but again nothing concrete came out of it and the British government issued a White Paper in March, 1933. It was on the basis of this White Paper that a Bill was introduced in the House of Commons in 1935, which subsequently came to be known as the Government of India Act, 1935.
It will thus be seen that sufficient inputs were given to the Act from all sources. Indian National Congress, All India Muslim League, Indian Princes, Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Indian Christians, religious minorities and vested interests all gave sufficient inputs and feedbacks for the new system that was likely to replace the old one.
No less feedback was provided by the British Parliament, British and world public opinion so that new system could be as progressive as possibly it could be. But the system had its own limitations, namely, there was no desire to weaken the hold of autocracy or to make the system democratic and responsive to public opinion.