Class 10 History

Nationalism in Asia: Simon Commission, Lahore Congress

End of Non-cooperation Movement

By the end of 1921, the movement was turning violent at many places. Gandhiji decided to withdraw the non-cooperation movement in February 1922. Even many Congress leaders were fatigued by mass struggles and wanted to participate in the elections to the provincial councils. The provincial councils were set up by the Government of India Act of 1919. Many leaders were of the opinion that it was important to oppose the British policies by becoming a part of the system.

The older leaders, like Motilal Nehru formed the Swaraj Party (within the Congress) and began to argue for a return to council politics.

The younger leaders; like Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru; were in favour of more radical mass agitation and pressed for full independence.

This was a period of internal debate and dissension within the Congress. This was also the period when the effect of the Great Depression was being felt on India. Agricultural prices began to fall from 1926. The prices collapsed in 1930. The whole country was in turmoil because of the effects of Great Depression.

Simon Commission

The British government constituted a Statutory Commission under Sir John Simon. The commission was made to look into the functioning of the constitutional system in India and suggest changes.

Key Proposals of Simon Commission

But before the publication of Simon Commission report, a declaration was made in October 1929. This declaration said that dominion status was the goal of Indian constitutional development.

Problems with Simon Commission

All the members in the commission were British, and there was no Indian in the commission. Indian leaders' point was that a commission without an Indian as a member would fail to do justice to the needs of India. Hence, the Indian leaders opposed the commission.

The Simon Commission arrived in India in 1928. It was greeted with the slogan Go back Simon. All parties joined the protest which was led by the Indian National Congress. In October 1929, Lord Irwin announced a vague offer of dominion status for India but its timing was not specified. He also offered to hold a Round Table Conference to discuss the future constitution.

The radical leaders within the Congress became more assertive. They were not satisfied with the British proposal. The liberals and moderates were in favour of the dominion status, but they were losing their influence in Congress.

Lahore Congress and Declaration of Purna Swaraj

Indians were not satisfied with the offer of dominion status and wanted nothing short of complete independence. In December 1929, the Lahore Congress was presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru. At the Lahore session, the Indian National Congress passed the resolution of Purna Swaraj or full independence for India.

On 29 December 1929, Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the Indian flag at the bank of Ravi river in Lahore. Congress Party declared 26th January 1930 as the Independence Day and gave a call to the people to take a pledge to struggle for complete independence. But the celebrations attracted little public support.

It was then left to Mahatma Gandhi to correlate the abstract idea of freedom to more concrete issues of everyday life.

Purna Swaraj: Key points of declaration

Note: This is my (Ajay Anand's) narration of the Purna Swaraj Declaration. The original document is 750 words long and was written by Jawaharlal Nehru.