World War-II and Indian Response

  • The one-sided inclusion of India in 1939 by the British on the side of Allied Forces against the Axis Powers led to a sharp criticism from nationalist leaders. Congress demanded that Indians should be consulted before taking such important decisions and Congress ministries in provinces resigned in protest.
  • Congress, Socialists & Communists (before Germany’s attack on Russia) saw the WWII as an imperialist war and were against India’s participation in it.
  • When World War II broke out, Congress declared two basic conditions to be fulfilled by the government to get its support. Congress demanded that after the war a constituent assembly should be convened to determine the political structure of free India and an immediate form of responsible government should be established at centre. Linlithgow rejected the offer.
  • Pakistan Resolution, 1940: Muslim League passed a resolution calling for grouping of geographically contagious areas where Muslims are in majority into independent states in which consistent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.
  • August Offer, 1940: Linlithgow announced it to get Indian cooperation in WW-II. He proposed a dominion status as the objective of India, expansion of the Viceroy’s Executive Council and setting up of a Constituent Assembly. It was rejected by Congress. In July 1941, a National Defence Council was set up with purely advisory functions. 

Nationalist Response

  • Congress resigned from all its ministries in the provinces and focused on the mass struggle to gain independence.
  • Internal conflicts in Congress resulted in Subhash Chandra Bose forming another party, Forward bloc, and beginning the armed struggle.
  • There was a political vacuum in the absence of Congress. Muslim league took advantage of this vacuum to create communal nationalism and stronghold the demand of Pakistan.
  • British realised that without the support of India, it could not perform well in World War. Hence, they came up with numerous constitutional proposals such as August Offer, Cripps mission and the Wavell Plan.
  • Programs like Individual satyagraha shifted focus from Mass struggle to individual efforts to gain independence.
  • Now, Mahatma Gandhi changed his ideology from absolute non-violence to ethical violence means to employ violence for the right causes and against tyranny. He launched Quit India Movement with a slogan to ‘Do or Die’ to gain complete Independence.
  • Participation from individuals like Usha Mehta brought focus to women’s participation in the freedom struggle like never seen before.
  • Efforts from regional struggles like Parallel government in Ballia, Tamluk & Satara transform the focus of local anger into the demand for freedom.
  • A section of nationalists believed that they should cooperate with Axis Powers such as Germany, Japan & Italy for pursuing freedom of India. Subhash Bose allied closely with Japan and Germany. He led Indian National Army with Japanese assistance. INA fought against British forces bravely and even got early successes such as control of Andaman Islands etc.
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