The era of the First World War (1914-1919) was full of enormous nationalist political activities in India. The events occurred during the First World War and the prevalent sentiments were responsible for the signing of Lucknow Pact between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. This era was also known for the Establishment of the Home Rule League and the August Declaration.
Lucknow Pact was an agreement, that took place between the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Muslim League in 1916. The Congress and the League held their annual sessions simultaneously, in Lucknow.
Lucknow Pact (1916)
Efforts were being made to bring the Congress and the Muslim League to reach an agreement on the scheme of political reforms in India. In 1915, both of them met at Bombay, where the leaders of both the parties forged a joint plan of post-war constitutional reforms. In 1916, there were simultaneous sessions of both the Congress and the League at Lucknow, where the joint scheme of political reforms was put forward and adopted by both the parties in 1916. This agreement so signed by them came to be known as the Lucknow Pact.
Clauses of Lucknow Pact
- There shall be a self-government in India. Muslims should be given 1/3rd representation in the Central Government.
- There should be separate electorates for all the communities, until a community demanded joint electorates. System of weightage to minority political representation should be adopted.
- The number of the members of Imperial Legislative Council was to be 150, of which 4/5th were to be elected and 1/5th nominated. 1/3rd of the elected members were to be Muslims.
- At the Provincial level, 4/5th of the members of the Legislative Council should be elected and 1/5th should be nominated. All members except those nominated should be elected directly on the basis of Adult Franchise.
- The salaries of the Secretary of State for Indian affairs should be paid by the British Government, not from Indian funds. Out of the two secretaries, one should be Indian and other should be their own member. The Executive should be separate from the Judiciary.
- In Viceroy Executive Council, half the members were to be Indian, elected by the members of the Imperial Legislative Council.
- The Judiciary, in every province, shall be placed under the control of the highest court of that province and shall be separated from the Executive.
Circumstances Leading to the Lucknow Pact
The following circumstances were responsible for the Lucknow Pact, 1916:
During the Balkan wars, the policy of Britishers was not sumpathetic to turkey. In the First World War, Britain was fighting against Turkey, which was the holy place of all Muslims. Because of this, the Muslim League was unhappy with the British in the First World War. The Caliph of the ruler of Turkey was the religious head of the Muslims, so Muslims automatically were upset with British.
There were various national events, which changed the behavior of the Muslim League, like the Partition of Bengal was cancelled by the British. Nationalist Muslims like, Abul Kalam Azad, Ali Brothers spread nationalist ideas among the Muslims. Some prominent Muslim leaders were arrested under the ‘Seditious Meeting Act’.
A Compromise Between the Two Fractions of the Congress
The Lucknow Pact also manifested the establishment of cordial relations between the two prominent groups of the Indian National Congress (i.e, between the Extremists and the Moderates). The extremists were led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the Moderates were led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Tilak rejoined the Congress in 1916 and he played a major role in resolving the differences between the Congress and the Muslim League.
Significance of the Lucknow Pact
The Lucknow Pact is considered important as for the first time the Congress and the Muslim League had come up with a joint programme, which the British found difficult to ignore. The fear of Hindu-Muslim unity made the British to rethink their policies and they introduced different measures to placate the Indians. Therefore, the Government felt it necessary to pacify the Indians by the declarations of 20th August, 1917, which promised a policy of gradual development of self-government institutions in India.
Drawbacks of the Lucknow Pact
- The wishes of the masses were not considered, the Pact was confined only to the educated and to the rich Hindus and Muslims. It emphasised the political existence for the Hindus and the Muslims. It did not resolve the deadlock between the Executive and the Legislatures.
- ‘Communal Veto’ in legislation was provided by this pact. Because on Legislature could proceed with any bill, if 3/4th of the members of particular community opposed it. The government’s repressive policy followed the Declaration of August, 1917.
- The Congress lost its secular character by accepting separate electorates for Muslims and hence, paved the way for communal tension in the future.
Home Rule League
- Towards the demand for independence, the Home Rule Movement was an important step. The term Home Rule means self-government. Home Rule League became essential in the sense that the Indian leaders had by then realized that the British government would not give any substantial concessions unless pressurised to do so.
- The myth of the racial superiority of Western nations over the Asian nations was destroyed by the First Wold War. The war had also led to increased misery among the poorer masses, because of heavy taxation and soaring prices. As a result, the people were willing to join any movement of protest.
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak founded the Indian Home Rule League at Pune on 28th April, 1916. Annie Besant inspired by the Irish Rebellion, started the Home Rule Movement in India in September, 1916. The movement spread rapidly and branches of the Home Rule League were established all over India. Tilak whole-heartedly supported this movement. He joined forces with Annie Besant and persuaded the Muslim League to support this programme.
Objectives of the Home Rule Movement
To attain self-government within the British empire by constitutional means, was the main objective of the Home Rule Movement. The slogans of Swadeshi, National Education and Home Rule for India were raised by the Home Rule League.
The leaders of the Home Rule Movement used constitutional methods to attain their objectives. The Home Rule leaders travelled extensively, criticised the policy of the British Government of neglecting industries and education in India as well as their revenue policy.
Impact of the Home Rule Movement
The Home Rule League carried the propaganda demanding the self-government or Home Rule in India all over the country.
The Home Rule Movement also founded its echoes outside India and Home Rule League for India was established in London and New York. It was under the pressure of the Home Rule Movement that the government felt the need to appease Indians.
Steps to Attain Home Rule
Leaders used diplomatic ways to achieve their aims. Pamphlets were used throughout India and all Swadeshi goods were popularised. British Government was criticised for their works in various fields such as their neglect of industries, bad conditions of the education system, increasing poverty in India, etc.
Decline of the Movement
The seriousness of the demonstration was realised by the British Government. The Government felt that it was necessary to pacify the nationalists. It promised them a responsible government after the war through its August declaration of 1917. As a result, the Home Rule Movement gradually died out.
August Declaration (1917)
In 1917, the agitation for Home Rule reached an unprecedented height. The British Government made a declaration on 20th August, 1917, which came to be known as the August Declaration.
It was stated in the Declaration that the control over the Indian Government would be transferred gradually to the Indian people. This was the result of Hindu-Muslim unity exhibited in the Lucknow pact.
On the basis of the Montague-Chelmsford report, the Government of India Act 1919, was passed, which introduced several reforms:
- Introduction of a Bicameral Central Legislature as the Council of State and the Indian Legislative Assembly.
- Establishment of a Unicameral Provincial Legislature, known as the Legislative Council.
- Dyarchy or dual Government introduced in the provinces.
- Separate electorates for Sikhs, Europeans and the Anglo-Indians.
- The power of the Secretary of State for India to control the affairs relating to the Government of India was reduced.