What was the Gandhi-Irwin Pact 1931?

What was Gandhi-Irwin pact

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The Gandhi-Irwin Pact was the first pact to be signed between a British leader and an Indian leader in the early 1900s. It was an outcome of the discussions between Lord Irwin and Mahatma Gandhi. The pact subdued the Civil Disobedience Movement which was in full fervor during that period. This article elaborates on this important pact signed between the rivals Indians and Britishers. 

Here, we will talk about Gandhi-Irwin Pact and the frequently Asked Questions covering topics like what was Gandhi-Irwin pact, where Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed, who signed Gandhi-Irwin pact and more.

Background of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact 

Mahatma Gandhi’s started Dandi march on 12 March 1930 from Sabarmati Ashram and reached Dandi on 6 April 1930. The march started as a mark of protest against the British salt monopoly. After reaching Dandi, Mahatma Gandhi broke the salt law by evaporating water and making salt. That is how the Civil Disobedience Movement was initiated. Several Indians committed themselves to performing Civil Disobedience Acts. It was an act of defiance against the British rules and policies. 

Following the making of salt which was against governmental norms, Gandhiji along with other nationalists like Jawaharlal Nehru were arrested. The Dandi march received worldwide attention and the news of the protest received maximum media coverage all over the world. The British domination and the laws imposed by them were highly criticized. After a year, Gandhiji was released from jail (January, 1931) as Irwin wanted to end the attention that the salt march was receiving. Other members of the Congress Working Committee were also released. This was followed by negotiating on the Gandhi-Irwin pact between the two leaders. 

What was Gandhi-Irwin pact? 

The Gandhi-Irwin Pact was an agreement signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin who was the viceroy of India. It was signed on 5 March 1931 between the two leaders before the Second Round Table Conference. The Gandhi-Irwin pact took place in Delhi and is even known as Delhi-pact or Gandhi Irwin pact. A total of 8 meetings were conducted that equaled 24 hours. 

Gandhiji had discussion with Lord Irwin to hold the Second Round Table Conference in England. Later, Irwin seemed sincere in his talks with Gandhiji. 

British officials and conservatives were outraged by the fact that a pact between India and Britain was being planned out. People were vexed that the chief enemy of the British is trying to have a discussion with them. For instance, Winston Churchill described Mahatma Gandhi as a “seditious fakir” and “half-naked” man who is trying to parley out with the representative of the King Emperor. 

Following Gandhi’s release from jail in January 1931, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) under its President Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, granted him the authority to negotiate with the Britishers. 

Mahatma Gandhi attended the Second Round Table Conference in the true spirit of a satyagrahi. India had a lot of trust placed on Mahatma Gandhi and he requested them to just pray for the future of the country and wait patiently. 

Some Indians were disappointed with Gandhiji for putting an end to the Civil Disobedience Movement particularly when it had taken full-flight towards success. However, Gandhiji had a different approach to life and he suggested Indians to be “satyagrahis”, a term he used for “truth-force”. He wanted Indians to fight for their freedom but in a peaceful manner, through non-violent means. 

Mahatma Gandhi praised India’s spirit for facing all troubles with fervor and asked them to stay prepared for the next phase of freedom struggle that will require double the amount of vigor. 

The proposed conditions of the Gandhi-Irwin fact are as follows: 

  • Indian National Congress will not carry out any other Salt March. 
  • Indian National Congress will participate in the Second Round Table Conference. 
  • The curbs imposed on the Indian National Congress by the Government of India will be curtailed. 
  • All prosecutions against political offences except violence will be withdrawn. 
  • The prisoners that were arrested during Dandi March should be released. 
  • The government monopoly on salt will be lifted and Indians can produce, trade and sell salt both legally and for private use. 

Results of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact 

The initial Round Table Conference was boycotted by the Indians. However, the release of Gandhiji from jail and Lord Irwin interested in talks, made the Satyagrahi leader attend the Second Round Table Conference. 

The outcome of these talks was the halting of the Civil Disobedience Movement on behalf of the Indian National Congress. 

Mahatma Gandhi agreed to go for another session of the Second Round Table Conference. In the second session, talks would be held regarding the constitutional reforms. 

The British Majesty’s government agreed on the following terms: 

  • All the ordinances passed and prosecutions will be withdrawn. 
  • All prisoners will be released except those opting for violent means against the British. 
  • Satyagrahis can carry out peaceful picketing in front of liquor shops and foreign goods. 
  • All the confiscated properties of the Satyagrahis will be duly returned to their original owners. 
  • People near the coast can legally collect and market salt when desired. 

Although police brutality was performed during the Civil Disobedience Movement, no further investigation was encouraged. Gandhiji didn’t even press Lord Irwin to forestall freedom fighters’ (Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru) life imprisonment and death sentences. Freedom fighters used violence as a means to usurp the British Government. Since Mahatma Gandhi was not an advocate of violence, he was not adamant on their release. 

Indian National Congress came to be recognized as a party of importance as it received the support of several Indian nationals. 

The pact ushered in a new direction for subsequent acts (Government of India Act 1935) passed by the British Government. With these acts, Indians could freely serve as representatives of the people. In other words, Indian party members could easily contest elections. 

Important Dates 

  • October 1929- Lord Irwin made an unclear remark about the dominion status in India where the British will be a co-ruler in India. 
  • 12 March 1930 to 6 April 1930- Mahatma Gandhi marched with 78 trusted volunteers from Sabarmati to Dandi to make salt from the coast; Civil Disobedience Movement was initiated by Gandhiji. 
  • 6 April, 1930 (8:30 a.m.)- Gandhiji protested against the British rule by making salt by evaporating water from the sea coast. 
  • 4-5th May 1930- Mahatma Gandhi was arrested for violating the salt laws that was exclusively meant for the British government. 
  • January 1931- The British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald hinted at the idea that Mahatma Gandhi could be a part of the next Round Table Conference; Mahatma Gandhi was released from jail in this period. 
  • 5 March 1931- The Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin (Viceroy of India). 
  • September-December 1931- Second Round Table Conference was held in London. 

FAQs on Gandhi-Irwin Pact 

  1. What was Gandhi-Irwin Pact?

Gandhi-Irwin Pact was a formal agreement signed between the two representatives of India and Britain. India was represented by Mahatma Gandhi and Britain was represented by the Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin. Gandhi-Irwin Pact consisted of certain norms agreed upon by both parties. For example, Indian National Congress will not take part in any Salt marches and they will be a part of the Second Round Table Conference etc. 

  1. Where was the Gandhi-Irwin Pact signed?

Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed in Delhi, India. It was signed before the Round Table Conference took place in sessions from September to December in 1931 (London).  

  1. When was the Gandhi-Irwin Pact signed?

The Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed on 5th March 1931 between Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (the leader of the Indian nationalist movement) and Lord Irwin who was the British viceroy of India. 

  1. What is the other name of Gandhi-Irwin Pact?

The other name of Gandhi-Irwin Pact is also known as Delhi Pact because it was signed between M.K Gandhi and Lord Irwin (later Lord Halifax) in Delhi, India. 

  1. Why was the Gandhi-Irwin Pact signed?

The Gandhi-Irwin pact was signed to pacify the world protests against British dominion in India. Prior to the Pact between the two leaders, the salt laws were broken by Gandhiji along with his volunteers. Salt production was strictly a government monopoly during that period. This event of struggle against British rule in India was captured and circulated through newspapers and newsreels all across the world. As a result, Lord Irwin decided to come at an agreement with the leader of the Indian nationalist movement, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. 

The Final Thought

It is said that Gandhiji shouldn’t have stopped the Civil Disobedience Movement. The movement sparked protests both nationally and internationally. India’s struggle against the Britishers was becoming a global issue. At this juncture, it was highly essential for Indians to take advantage of the situation. However, Mahatma Gandhi decided to take the peaceful route to India’s freedom. He adopted Satyagraha that meant fighting against opponents with truth as a force. His trust in Satyagraha eventually gave India its due freedom. 

Hopefully, you have your answers to : What was Gandhi-Irwin pact, where Gandhi-Irwin pact was signed, who signed Gandhi-Irwin pact etc.

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