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Round Table Conferences (India)

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The three Round Table Conferences of 1930–32 were a series of conferences organized by the British Government to discuss constitutional reforms in India. They were conducted as per the recommendation of Jinnah to Lord Irwin viceroy and his friend Ramsay MacDonald then Prime Minister of Great Britain, and by the report submitted by the Simon Commission in May 1930. 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.

Contents

First Round Table Conference (November 1930 – January 1931)

The Round Table Conference officially inaugurated by His Majesty George V on November 12, 1930 in Royal Gallery House of Lords at London and chaired by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald.

The three British political parties were represented by sixteen delegates. There were fifty-eight political leaders from British India and sixteen delegates from the princely states. In total 89 delegates from India attended the Conference. However, 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 Movement.

Participants

  • British Representatives:
  • Labour: Ramsay Macdonald, Lord Sankey, Wedgwood Benn, Arthur Henderson, J. H. Thomas, William Jowitt, Hastings Lees-Smith, Earl Russell
  • Conservative: Earl Peel, Marquess of Zetland, Samuel Hoare, Oliver Stanley
  • Liberal: Marquess of Reading, Marquess of Lothian, Sir Robert Hamilton, Isaac Foot
  • Indian States' Representatives: Maharaja of Alwar, Maharaja of Baroda, Nawab of Bhopal, Maharaja of Bikaner, Rana of Dholpur, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja of Nawanagar, Maharaja of Patiala (Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes), Maharaja of Rewa, Chief Sahib of Sangli, Sir Prabhashankar Pattani (Bhavnagar), Manubhai Mehta (Baroda), Sardar Sahibzada Sultan Ahmed Khan (Gwalior), Akbar Hydari (Hyderabad), Mirza Ismail (Mysore), Col. Kailas Narain Haksar (Jammu and Kashmir)
  • British-Indian Representatives:
  • Muslim League: Aga Khan III (leader of British-Indian delegation), Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Muhammad Shafi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, A. K. Fazlul Huq, Hafiz Ghulam Hussain Hidayat Ullah, Dr. Shafa'at Ahmad Khan, Raja Sher Muhammad Khan of Domeli, A. H. Ghuznavi
  • Hindus: B. S. Moonje, M. R. Jayakar, Diwan Bahadur Raja Narendra Nath
  • Liberals: J. N. Basu, Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamani, V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad
  • Justice Party: Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, Bhaskarrao Vithojirao Jadhav, Sir A. P. Patro
  • Depressed Classes: B. R. Ambedkar, Rettamalai Srinivasan
  • Sikhs: Sardar Ujjal Singh, Sardar Sampuran Singh
  • Parsis: Phiroze Sethna, Cowasji Jehangir, Homi Mody
  • Indian Christians: K. T. Paul
  • Europeans: Sir Hubert Carr, Sir Oscar de Glanville (Burma), T. F. Gavin Jones, C. E. Wood (Madras)
  • Anglo-Indians: Henry Gidney
  • Women: Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz, Radhabai Subbarayan
  • Landlords: Maharaja Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga (Bihar), Muhammad Ahmad Said Khan Chhatari (United Provinces), Raja of Parlekhmundi (Orissa), Provash Chandra Mitter
  • Labour: N. M. Joshi, B. Shiva Rao
  • Universities: Syed Sultan Ahmed, Bisheshwar Dayal Seth,
  • Burma: U Aung Thin, Ba U, M. M. Ohn Ghine
  • Sindh: Shah Nawaz Bhutto, Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah
  • Other Provinces: Chandradhar Barua (Assam), Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum (NWFP), S. B. Tambe (Central Provinces)
  • Government of India: Narendra Nath Law, Bhupendra Nath Mitra, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, M. Ramachandra Rao
  • Officials attending in consultative capacity: W. M. Hailey, C. A. Innes, A. C. MacWatters, H. G. Haig, L. W. Reynolds
  • Indian States Delegation Staff:
  • Hyderabad: Sir Richard Chenevix-Trench, Nawab Mahdi Yar Jung, Ahmed Hussain, Nawab Sir Amin Jung Bahadur, Sir Reginald Glancy
  • South Indian States: T. Raghavaiah
  • Baroda: V. T. Krishnamachari
  • Orissa States: K. C. Neogy
  • Nominated by the Chamber of Princes Special Organisation: L. F. Rushbrook Williams, Qazi Ali Haidar Abbasi, Jarmani Dass, A. B. Latthe, D. A. Surve
  • Secretariats: S. K. Brown, V. Dawson, K. S. Fitze, W. H. Lewis, R. J. Stopford, J. Coatman, Marmaduke Pickthall, K. M. Panikkar, N. S. Subba Rao, Geoffrey Corbett, A. Latifi, Girija Shankar Bajpai
  • Secretariat-General: R. H. A. Carter, Mian Abdul Aziz, W. D. Croft, G. E. J. Gent, B. G. Holdsworth, R. F. Mudie, G. S. Rajadhyaksha
  • Proceedings

    The conference started with 6 plenary meetings where delegates put forward their issues 8 sub committees were formed to deal with several different matters including federal structure, provincial constitution, province of Sindh and NWFP, defense services and minorities e.t.c. These were followed by discussions on the reports of the sub-committees on Federal Structure, Provincial Constitution, Minorities, Burma, North West Frontier Province, Franchise, Defense services and Sindh. These were followed by 2 more plenary meetings and a final concluding session. It was difficult for progress to be made in the absence of the Indian National Congress but some advances were made.

    The idea of an All-India Federation was moved to the centre of discussion by Tej Bahadur Sapru. All the groups attending the conference supported this concept. The princely states agreed to the proposed federation provided that their internal sovereignty was guaranteed. The Muslim League also supported the federation as it had always been opposed to a strong Centre. The British agreed that representative government should be introduced on provincial level.

    Other important discussions were the responsibility of the executive to the legislature and a separate electorate for the so-called Untouchables as demanded by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

    Second Round Table Conference (September – December 1931)

    The Congress had boycotted the first conference was requested to come to a settlement by Sapru, M. R. Jayakar and V. S. Srinivasa Sastri. A settlement between Mahatma Gandhi and Viceroy Lord Irwin known as the Gandhi–Irwin Pact was reached and Gandhi was appointed as the sole representative of the Congress to the second Round Table Conference. By this time, there was a coalition Government in Britain with a Conservative majority.

  • British Representatives:
  • Labour: Ramsay Macdonald, Wedgwood Benn, Arthur Henderson, William Jowitt, Hastings Lees-Smith, F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, Lord Sankey, Lord Snell, J. H. Thomas
  • Conservative: Viscount Hailsham, Samuel Hoare, Earl Peel, Oliver Stanley, Marquess of Zetland
  • Scottish Unionist: Walter Elliot
  • Liberal: Isaac Foot, Henry Graham White, Robert Hamilton, Marquess of Lothian, Marquess of Reading,
  • Indian States' Representatives: Maharaja of Alwar, Maharaja of Baroda, Nawab of Bhopal, Maharaja of Bikaner, Maharao of Kutch, Rana of Dholpur, Maharaja of Indore, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja of Kapurthala, Maharaja of Nawanagar, Maharaja of Patiala, Maharaja of Rewa, Chief Sahib of Sangli, Raja of Korea, Raja of Sarila, Sir Prabhashankar Pattani (Bhavnagar), Manubhai Mehta (Baroda), Sardar Sahibzada Sultan Ahmed Khan (Gwalior), Sir Muhammad Akbar Hydari (Hyderabad), Mirza Ismail (Mysore), Col. K.N. Haksar (Jammu and Kashmir), T. Raghavaiah (Travancore), Liaqat Hayat Khan (Patiala)
  • British-Indian Representatives:
  • Government of India: C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, Narendra Nath Law, M. Ramachandra Rao
  • Indian National Congress: Mahatma Gandhi, A. Rangaswami Iyengar, Madan Mohan Malaviya
  • Muslims: Aga Khan III, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, A. K. Fazlul Huq, Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Shafi, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, Syed Ali Imam, Maulvi Muhammad Shafi Daudi, Raja Sher Muhammad Khan of Domeli, A. H. Ghuznavi, Hafiz Hidayat Hussain, Sayed Muhammad Padshah Saheb Bahadur, Dr. Shafa'at Ahmad Khan, Jamal Muhammad, Nawab Sahibzada Sayed Muhammad Mehr Shah
  • Hindus: M. R. Jayakar, B. S. Moonje, Diwan Bahadur Raja Narendra Nath
  • Liberals: J. N. Basu, C. Y. Chintamani, Tej Bahadur Sapru, V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad
  • Justice Party: Raja of Bobbili, Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, Sir A. P. Patro, Bhaskarrao Vithojirao Jadhav
  • Depressed Classes: B. R. Ambedkar, Rettamalai Srinivasan,
  • Sikhs: Sardar Ujjal Singh, Sardar Sampuran Singh
  • Parsis: Cowasji Jehangir, Homi Mody, Phiroze Sethna
  • Indian Christians: Surendra Kumar Datta, A. T. Pannirselvam
  • Europeans: E. C. Benthall, Sir Hubert Carr, T. F. Gavin Jones, C. E. Wood (Madras)
  • Anglo-Indians: Henry Gidney
  • Women: Sarojini Naidu, Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz, Radhabai Subbarayan
  • Landlords: Muhammad Ahmad Said Khan Chhatari (United Provinces), Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga (Bihar), Raja of Parlakimedi (Orissa), Sir Provash Chandra Mitter
  • Industry: Ghanshyam Das Birla, Sir Purshottamdas Thakurdas, Maneckji Dadabhoy
  • Labour: N. M. Joshi, B. Shiva Rao, V. V. Giri
  • Universities: Syed Sultan Ahmed, Bisheshwar Dayal Seth
  • Burma: Sir Padamji Ginwala
  • Sindh: Shah Nawaz Bhutto, Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah
  • Other Provinces: Chandradhar Barua (Assam), Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum (NWFP), S. B. Tambe (Central Provinces)
  • Indian States Delegation Staff: V. T. Krishnamachari (Baroda), Richard Chenevix-Trench (Hyderabad), Nawab Mahdi Yar Jung (Hyderabad), S. M. Bapna (Indore), Amar Nath Atal (Jaipur), J. W. Young (Jodhpur), Ram Chandra Kak (Jammu and Kashmir), Sahibzada Abdus Samad Khan (Rampur), K. C. Neogy (Orissa states), L. F. Rushbrook Williams, Jarmani Dass, Muhammad Saleh Akbar Hydari, K. M. Panikkar, N. Madhava Rao
  • British Delegation Staff: H. G. Haig, V. Dawson, K. S. Fitze, J. G. Laithwaite, W. H. Lewis, P. J. Patrick, J. Coatman, G. T. Garratt, R. J. Stopford
  • British Indian Delegation Staff: Geoffrey Corbett, A. Latifi, Girija Shankar Bajpai, Benegal Rama Rau, Syed Amjad Ali, Prince Aly Khan, A. M. Chaudhury, Mahadev Desai, Govind Malaviya, K. T. Shah, P. Sinha
  • Secretariat-General: R. H. A. Carter, K. Anderson, C. D. Deshmukh, J. M. Sladen, Hugh MacGregor, G. F. Steward, A. H. Joyce, Syed Amjad Ali, Ram Babu Saksena
  • Proceedings

    The second session opened on September 7, 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. Mahatma Gandhi was invited from India and attended as the sole official Congress representative accompanied by Sarojini Naidu and also Madan Mohan Malaviya, Ghanshyam Das Birla, Muhammad Iqbal, Sir Mirza Ismail (Diwan of Mysore), S.K. Dutta and Sir Syed Ali Imam. 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. He returned to India, disappointed with the results and empty-handed.
  • 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 further distracting the National Government.

  • 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 leader of depressed classes, Dr.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)

    The third and last session assembled on November 17, 1932. Only forty-six delegates attended since most of the main political figures of India were not present. The Labour Party from Britain and the Indian National Congress refused to attend.

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

  • Indian States' Representatives: Akbar Hydari (Dewan of Hyderabad), Mirza Ismail (Dewan of Mysore), V. T. Krishnamachari (Dewan of Baroda), Wajahat Hussain (Jammu and Kashmir), Sir Sukhdeo Prasad (Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur), J. A. Surve (Kolhapur), Raja Oudh Narain Bisarya (Bhopal), Manubhai Mehta (Bikaner), Nawab Liaqat Hayat Khan (Patiala), Fateh Naseeb Khan (Alwar State), L. F. Rushbrook Williams (Nawanagar), Raja of Sarila (small states)
  • British-Indian Representatives: Aga Khan III, B. R. Ambedkar (Depressed Classes), Ramakrishna Ranga Rao of Bobbili, Sir Hubert Carr (Europeans), Nanak Chand Pandit, A. H. Ghuznavi, Henry Gidney (Anglo-Indians), Hafiz Hidayat Hussain, Muhammad Iqbal, M. R. Jayakar, Cowasji Jehangir, N. M. Joshi (Labour), Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar, Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz (Women), A. P. Patro, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Dr. Shafa'at Ahmad Khan, Sir Shadi Lal, Tara Singh Malhotra, Sir Nripendra Nath Sircar, Sir Purshottamdas Thakurdas, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan
  • References

    Round Table Conferences (India) Wikipedia


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