Round Table Conferences (India)

Round Table Conferences (India)

"This article is about the Anglo-Indian Round Table Conferences. For the Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference, see Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference. For other uses of Round Table, see Round Table (disambiguation)."

The three Round Table Conferences of 1930–32 were organised by the British government following the Simon Commission meeting so much resistance they did not even complete their report. Demands for swaraj, or self-rule, in India had been growing increasingly strong. By the 1930s, many British politicians believed that India needed to move towards dominion status. However, there were significant disagreements between the Indian and the British political parties that the Conferences would not resolve.

First Round Table Conference (November 1930 – January 1931)

The Round Table Conference was opened officially by King George V on Thursday, November 13, 1930 and chaired by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald. The Indian National Congress, along with Indian business leaders, kept away from the conference. Many of them were in jail for their participation in civil disobedience.

However, the Conference was attended by Muslim leaders including Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Shafi, the Aga Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Zafrulla Khan; Hindu Mahasabha leaders including B. S. Moonje and Jaylar; Liberals including Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamani and Srinivas Shashtri; and a large contingent of rulers of princely states.

The idea of an All-India Federation was moved to the centre of discussion. All the groups attending the conference supported this concept. The responsibility of the Executive to Legislature was discussed, and B. R. Ambedkar demanded a separate electorate for the Untouchables.

econd Round Table Conference (September – December 1931)

There were three major differences between the first and second Round Table Conferences. By the second:

*"Congress Representation" — The Gandhi-Irwin Pact opened the way for Congress participation in this conference. Gandhi attended as the sole official Congress representative. Gandhi claimed that the Congress alone represented political India; that the Untouchables were Hindus and should not be treated as a “minority”; and that there should be no separate electorates or special safeguards for Muslims or other minorities. These claims were rejected by the other Indian participants. According to this pact, Gandhi was asked to call off the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and if he did so the prisoners of the British government would be freed excepting the criminal prisoners, i.e those who had killed British officials.

*"National Government" — two weeks earlier the Labour government in London had fallen. Ramsay MacDonald now headed a National Government dominated by the Conservative Party.

*"Financial Crisis" – During the conference, Britain went off the Gold Standard. Cabinet tied the rupee to sterling thus using India gold to stabilize Britain’s currency.Fact|date=February 2007 During the Conference, Gandhi could not reach agreement with the Muslims on Muslim representation and safeguards. At the end of the conference Ramsay MacDonald undertook to produce a Communal Award for minority representation, with the provision that any free agreement between the parties could be substituted for his award.

Gandhi took particular exception to the treatment of untouchables as a minority separate from the rest of the Hindu community. He clashed with the Untouchable leader, B. R. Ambedkar, over this issue: the two eventually resolved the situation with the Poona Pact of 1932.

Third Round Table Conference (November – December 1932)

From September 1931 until March 1933, under the supervision of Samuel Hoare, the proposed reforms took the form reflected in the Government of India Act 1935.

Most of the main political figures of India were not present for this conference.

In this conference, Chaudhary Rahmat Ali, a college student, coined the name PAKISTAN. Pakistan means the land of pure. He took the P from Punjab, the A from the Afghan, the KI from Kashmir, the S from Sindh and the TAN from Balochistan.In this Conference M.A.Jinnah was not present.

* [ Essay on Indian Constitutional Round Table Conferences, London 1931–1933]

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