In this article, we will learn about the main proposal of Cripps Mission, its implications and failure of the mission. In March 1942, a mission headed by Sir Stafford Cripps was sent to India and it was named as Cripps Mission. The main aim of Cripps mission is to secure complete support and cooperation for their endeavors in World War II.
What is Cripps Mission?
Sir Stafford Cripps was a government minister and a senior left-wing politician in the Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet. He was sent for the purpose of negotiating an agreement with the nationalist leaders who were speaking for most of the Indian population and Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was speaking for the Muslim minorities.
Cripps tried very hard to keep Indians loyal to the British and India would obtain complete self-government after the war. An another promise to grant the Dominion status and conduct elections was also made. Cripps published the proposals after discussing them with the Indian leaders. The 2 major parties the League and the Congress rejected the proposals of Cripps and the mission was a complete failure.
The proposals of the Cripps mission were designed by Cripps himself but they were radical for both the Indians and Churchill. There was no middle way either. Congress, progressing towards the Quit India Movement, completely refused to cooperate the British in the war effort while in the duration of the war, the British imprisoned the complete leadership of the Congress practically in the course of war.
Behind the scenes
- The Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, formally announced India a hostile state on the Britain’s side without consulting the elected provincial representatives or Indian political leaders.
- In India, this had caused a considerable resentment and provoked the resignation of elected Congress Party Provincial Governments arousing the prospect of political disorder and public revolt in India.
- The Muslims, along with smaller minorities, extended their support to Britain and celebrated the “Day of Deliverance” because they were oppressed during the Congress rule.
- The British feared that the destabilization of India would might encourage the invasion of Japan and this would decrease the number of people who volunteered to participate in the war.
- In 1942, Japan was into Burma after overrunning Malaya and the threat regarding the invasion of India was real.
- The Indian Political Leaders’ support and cooperation was needed by London for recruiting more Indians into the British Indian Army that was fighting in Middle East theater. They recruited over 2.5 million men in the event and this is termed as the largest volunteer army in the history.
Debate over Protest or Cooperation for Cripps Mission
Upon its response to the entry of India into world War II, the Congress was partitioned. In spite of the gravity of War in Europe that threatened the own freedom of the Britain, few leaders of Congress were in favor of launching a revolt against the British.
Others like Chakravarti Rajagopalachari recommended to offer an Olive branch to British by providing support to them in this critical time with the hope that the British would offer them Independence after the war.
Suspecting the intentions of the British, the major leader, Mohandas Gandhi opposed to the involvement of India in the war as he was against violence and wouldn’t endorse a war. He had a strong belief that the British were not sincere about the aspirations of India for independence.
But, Rajagopalachari, supported by Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad and Sardar and Vallabhbhai Patel had a meeting with Cripps and agreed upon offering complete support to British and in return, they would get quick self-governance and eventual independence.
Cripps in India as a part of Cripps Mission
Cripps held discussions with the leaders of India upon his arrival in India. There was a confusion over what Cripps was allowed to offer the nationalist politicians of India by Leo Amery (The then Secretary of State for India) and Churchill. He started by offering complete dominion status to India at the end of the war and with a chance to leave the Commonwealth and go for complete independence.
Cripps also promised privately to remove Linlithgow and grant dominion status immediately, retaining only the Ministry of Defence for the British. He, however, failed to present any strong proposals other than giving vague commitment to add more members of India to the Executive Council of Viceroy. Cripps had spent most of time in obtaining the support of Jinnah and the leaders of Congress to come to a common arrangement in the support of war and the government.
At that stage, there are only a small amount of trust between Congress and the British and both the sides felt that both had other intentions and were not revealing them. Guided by Gandhi, the Congress had stopped talks with Cripps and the immediate self-government was demanded by the national leadership in return for the war support. The offer of Cripps to grant the Dominion status to India was stated by Gandhi as a “post-dated cheque drawn on a crashing bank”.
Quit India Movement
- The Indian National Congress and Gandhi started planning a major public revolt known as the Quit India Movement at the time when British remained unresponsive.
- This Movement demanded the immediate withdrawal of British from India. With the conquest of Burma, as the Imperial Japanese Army came closer to India, Indians realized the British’s inability to defend India.
- The elements of the Indian National Army established and led by Subhas Chandra Bose were present in the invasion force.
- It mostly consisted of Indians who were the prisoners that were captured with the Singapore’s fall in early 1942.
- The response of the British to the Quit India Movement was to put most of the Congress leadership in Jail.
- The Muslim League of Jinnah criticized the Quit India Movement and took part in the legislative councils of the Raj and in the provincial governments. It encouraged the Muslims to take part in the war.
- The British continued administering India during the war with this cooperation using the military personnel and officials where the Indian politicians couldn’t be found. However, in the long term, this wouldn’t prove to be feasible.
Causes of Cripps Mission Failure
There are 3 main reasons for the failure of Cripps Mission. They are as follows
- The Indian National Congress rejected the offer of the British due to strong opposition from Gandhi.
- The original British offer was modified by Cripps that stated no real shift of power.
- The efforts of the Secretary of State for India and the Viceroy behind-the-scenes to vandalize the mission.
The messages between L. S. S. Amery, the then Secretary of State and Viceroy Lord Linlithgow revealed that both had opposed the Cripps Mission and they undercut Cripps deliberately. While the Cripps Mission was utilized by the Government of British as an evidence of its liberal colonial policy, the private and personal correspondence reveals elation upon its failure and contempt for it.
Long-Term impact of Cripps Mission
- The significance of the Cripps Mission was seen only in the aftermath of the war as the troops were sent back home after getting demobilized.
- Churchill recognized that there could be no withdrawal of the offer regarding the Independence which Cripps had made but Churchill was out of power by the end of the war and could do nothing but become a spectator as India was granted Independence by the new labor government.
- The politicians of the Congress party stood in the 1945-1946 elections and formed the provincial governments as they had confidence that British would leave soon.