Everything About Quit India Movement

About Quit India Movement:

  • The Quit India Movement started on August 9, 1942, and set in motion a chain of events over the following five years, which finally led to the end of the British rule in India.
  • Also known as the August Kranti, the mass civil disobedience movement is considered to be one of the most significant events in the history of India’s freedom struggle.

Factors that led to the declaration of Quit India movement:

  1. Collapse of Cripps Mission:
  • In March 1942, a mission headed by Stafford Cripps was sentto India with constitutional proposals to seek Indian supportfor the WorldWar-II.
  • Major proposals:
    • An Indian Union with a Dominion status would be set up.
    • After the end of the war, a Constituent Assemblywould be convened to frame a new Constitution.
    • Any province notwilling to join the Union could have a separate Constitutionand form a separate Union.

  • Reasons for failure:
    • The Indian National Congress (INC) rejected the offer of dominion status and demandedfor complete independence.
    • The right to provinces to secede went against the principle of national unity.
    • Absence of any plan for immediate transfer of powerand absence of any real share in defence.
    • The Muslim League criticised the idea of a single Indian Union.

  1. Rising anger and frustration among the people:
  • Due to World War-II, the economy of India was already in shatters.
  • High prices and shortage of goods during the War had led to frustration building up among the people.
  • In the east, the Government had requisitioned resources, including boats, in preparation for the Japanese invasion, depriving many communities of their means of livelihood.
  • Reports of selective British evacuations in areas overrun by the Japanese — taking out the Whites while leaving the local people to the bayonets and brutality of the invaders — triggered anger, outrage, and fear that the same would be done in the Indian mainland once the war reached home.
  1. Sense of Britain’s vulnerability:
  • News of the Allied defeats in the Warand reports and rumours that trains from Assam were bringing in massive numbers of injured and dead British soldiers, created a sense that the end of the British Rule was near.
  • The great strength of the Empire had been the idea of its permanence and stability; there were now gaps in that belief.
  • Popular faith in the stability of British rule was so low that people were withdrawing deposits from banks and post offices.

Ratification of Quit India Resolution:

  • The Quit India Resolution was proposed by Jawaharlal Nehru and seconded by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  • The resolution was ratified at the All-India Congress Working Committee meeting at Gowalia Tank, Bombay, on August 8, 1942.
  • On August 9, 1942, the committee launched the movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Attaching the slogan of “Do or Die” to the movement, Mahatma Gandhi delivered a speech in Gowalia Tank Maidan, also referred to as the August Kranti Maidan.
  • In the speech, he demanded that the British leave the country immediately and grant India freedom. 

Extent of mass participation:

  • The participation was on many levels. There were no communal clashes during the movement.
  • Youth, especially the students of schools and colleges,remained in the forefront.
  • Women, especially school and college girls, activelyparticipated in the movement.
  • Peasants of all strata were at the heart of the movement.Even some zamindars participated. These peasants concentratedtheir offensive on symbols of authority and there wascomplete absence of anti-zamindar violence.
  • Government officials, especially those belonging tolower levels in police and administration, participated resulting in erosion of government loyalty.

Underground Activity:

  • Many nationalists went underground and took to subversive activities.
  • The main personalities taking up underground activity were Rammanohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Aruna Asaf Ali, Usha Mehta, Biju Patnaik, Chhotubhai Puranik, Achyut Patwardhan, Sucheta Kripalani and R.P. Goenka.
  • Usha Mehta started an underground radio in Bombay.
  • This phase of underground activity was meant to keep up popular morale by continuing to provide a line of command and guidance to distribute arms and ammunition.

Parallel Governments:

  • There was formation of many independent national or parallel governments in the isolated pockets of the country, such as Ballia, Satara, Tamluk, etc.

Opposition to Quit India Movement:

  • The Communists did not join the movement; in thewake of Russia (where the communists were in power) beingattacked by Nazi Germany, the Communists began to supportthe British war against Germany.
  • The Muslim League opposed the movement, fearingthat if the British left India at that time, the minorities wouldbe oppressed by the Hindus.
  • The Hindu Mahasabha boycotted the movement.
  • The Princely states showed a low-key response.

Suppression of the Movement:

  • The British Government’s suppression was severe. The number of those killed is estimated at 10,000.
  • In the five months up to December 1942, an estimated 60,000 people had been thrown into prison. Some 26,000 people were convicted for small and large offences, and 18,000 were detained under the Defence of India Act.
  • The military took over many cities;police and secret service reigned supreme.
  • Rebellious villageswere fined heavily and in many villages, mass flogging wasdone.
  • All the members of the INC’s working committee, including Mahatma Gandhi, were imprisoned by the Government.
  • In February 1943, Mahatma Gandhi went on 21-day hunger strike against the violence of the State.

Conclusion

  • Though the movement was supressed, it changed the character of the Indian freedom struggle.
  • A greater sense of unity and brotherhood emerged due to the Quit India Movement.
  • This movement also gave some future prominent leaders such as Biju Patnaik, Aruna Asif Ali, Ram Manohar Lohia, Sucheta Kripalani, J.P. Narayan, etc.
  • By the end of World War-II, Britain’s position in the world had changed dramatically and the demand for independence could no longer be ignored.

 Polity & Governance

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