The Cripps Mission was a British government initiative to grant India dominion status. It intended to implement the same proposals advanced in 1919, 1935, and during the Simon Commission. But it didn’t happen by chance. They imposed conditions that were unacceptable to the country’s leaders or political parties. You will learn more about it in this article. We’ll talk about “what is Cripps Mission” to give you a general idea of what this mission is all about. We will also discuss the Cripps members, the formation of the Cripps mission, Cripps Mission proposals, and the failure of the Cripps Mission. “Objection raised by the INC and Muslim League” and its aftermath are also available.
What is Cripps Mission?
The Cripps Mission was a plan to bring Indians into World War II to aid British forces. Sir Richard Cripps led it, with the backing of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Cripps was dispatched to India from March 22 to April 1942 with specific proposals in order to persuade the Indians to support the mission. While some backed the Cripps Mission because they saw it as a chance to free India, others opposed it. For example, Mahatma Gandhi opposed India’s involvement in the war because he was well aware that the Britishers were motivated by self-interest.
Cripps Mission Members
Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, a member of Britain’s left-wing Labour Party, led the Cripps Mission. He also served in Winston Churchill’s coalition government as a member of the War Cabinet. Other members included the Lord Privy Seal, members of the state council, the leader of the House of Commons, and others.
What led to the formation of the Cripps Mission?
The reasons behind the formation of the Cripps Mission are mainly three which is given below:
- It was the times of World War II. The British colonies of Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya were already overpowered by Japan which was the Axis Power. With the fall of Singapore and the acquisition of the Pearl Harbor Island of America, the Britishers grew more apprehensive about their colonies with the ensuing war.
- Japan was advancing with its forces towards the South East Asia. After acquiring Burma, they had their eyes set on the eastern flanks of India’s borders. Japan proved to be a threat to the British colony. The Britishers fearing Japanese invasion in India planned to amass India’s support in their favour.
- Moreover, they were unsuccessful in their attempts to gain favour from South East Asia. As a result, they intended to have support from the Indians which could only be fulfilled through the Cripps Mission.
- When the Second World War was already waging in 1939, the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow included India as part of the countries that will go to war against the Axis Powers. This decision was taken without the consultation of Indians which vexed them. The Congress Party which was the largest serving party in India vehemently opposed the decision.
- In reiteration, 7 Congress leaders who headed the provincial governments resigned from their respective posts. However, the Muslim League alongwith Linlithgow rejoiced the occassion and termed 22 December 1939 as the Day of Deliverance.
- The Allied forces were not happy with the imperial policies that the British practiced in India. They were putting pressure on Britain to gather Indian cooperation in the World War II. China and United States were particularly keen to involve India’s participation in the war. As a result, Winston Churchill sent Richard Cripps to held discussions on the Draft Declaration containing several proposals under the Cripps Mission.
Proposals of Cripps Mission
- The Cripps Mission proposed to grant dominion status to India. By doing this, India would be in the transitioning phase between British rule and self-governance. In that manner, Britain could continue to hold power in the land and have Indians participate in war efforts. As per the proposal, the country can choose to remain with the Commonwealth or secede from it. It also proposed that India can freely participate in international organisations.
- A Constituent Assembly would come into place that would be responsible for framing the Constitution of India. The Constituent Assembly would have elected members by the provincial assemblies through the proportional representation. It would also have members nominated by the princes of the states.
- Provinces that seek a separate union other than the Indian dominion are free to form a separate constitution. This could have widened the disparities between several religious identities and served as a blueprint for India’s partition.
- To safeguard the rights of minorities or the transfer of power, the Constituent Assembly can have discussions with the British government.
- The British government would have full control over India’s defence until the new Indian constitution is formulated. Additionally, the power exercised by the Governor General will remain the same.
What led to the Failure of Cripps Mission?
- The Cripps Mission plan did not win popular consensus with the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and other Indian parties. As it did not grant self-governance to India, the INC or other parties rejected the mission. Mahatma Gandhi termed the Cripps Mission as a “Post Dated cheque on a crashing bank”.
- The proposals placed by the Cripps Commission were seen as too radical by the British as they felt they had granted India more autonomy than expected. On the other hand, the proposals were too conservative with the Indian National Congress as they wanted no less than complete freedom.
- INC rejected the Cripps Mission as it allowed the formation of a separate union. This could have divided the country which nationalists clearly wanted to avoid.
- The Hindu Mahasabha and the Liberals didn’t want the states to secede.
- Although the proposals of the Cripps Mission kept the Depressed classes in consideration, they were dubious about the granting of their rights in a country where they formed the minority.
- There’s a general belief that Viceroy Linlithgow, Britain PM Winston Churchill and Leo Amery, the Secretary of State for India did not provide enough support to the Cripps Mission, due to which it failed.
How did the two major nationalist parties respond to the Cripps Mission?
Both the nationalist parties, the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League opposed the Cripps Mission but they had seperate reasons behind their responses.
Response from the Indian National Congress
- The aims of the Indian National Congress was clear. It wanted sovereignty and complete independence from British rule. As a consequence, the Congress party found the proposals placed by Cripps “unsatisfactory” as complete independence would not be granted to them.
- Indians objected to the fact that state representation would be carried out by nominated members instead of elected representatives.
- Since the right to secede or the formation of a different union was a part of the Cripps proposal, the Indians thwarted the idea as this was meant to divide India and forsake its aims of maintaining unity, integrity and solidarity.
- Moreover, the Party did not want Indians to serve in the World War II on behalf of the Britishers. They were completely against the Majesty’s Government to have “control” and direction of the Defence of India”.
- The Cripps Mission did not mention the exact period when power would be transferred by the British government to the Indians. Moreover, the Governor General would continue to exercise the power that he already had.
- The Congress Working Committee further rejected the Draft Declaration that was settled by the War Cabinet on 7April 1942. Two days later, Cripps made fresh attempts to win over the Congress members but to no avail. By the time President Theodore Roosevelt of United States requested Cripps to make a renewed effort, the latter was already back in his home country.
Response from the Muslim League
- The idea of a single union was thwarted by the Muslim League. The League under Jinnah wanted a seperate territory i.e., Pakistan but the Cripps proposals had no mention of them.
- The Muslim League also did not support the formation of the Constituent Assembly as proposed by the Cripps Mission. It even resisted the formulation of the new Constitution that would be framed after the Constituent Assembly comes into existence.
- The Muslim League also opposed the procedure stated by the British to join the Union or withdraw from it as they did not conform to their demands.
Aftermath of the failure of Cripps Mission
After the Cripps Mission failed, Sir Richard Cripps returned to India. The nationalist leader, Mahatma Gandhi saw this as an opportunity to facilitate British from voluntarily withdrawing from India. As a result, the Quit India Movement was called upon that protested for India’s full-fledged Independence against the British dominion.
The repeated attempts to grant India dominion status ended in failure. Indians valued their independence and would not accept anything less. They desired self-government and struggled for the same reason. Being a part of World War II was not something Indians aimed for. India was a British colony, not the United Kingdom. In fact, India was nothing but India.