The Atlee administration dispatched a powerful delegation to India in February 1946 called the Cabinet Mission. Pethick Lawrence, the Secretary of State for India, Stafford Cripps, the President of the Board of Trade, and A.V. Alexander, the First Lord of the Admiralty, were the three British cabinet members who participated in the mission to find strategies for a negotiated, peaceful transfer of power to India. Pethick Lawrence served as chairman of the expedition. We’ll talk about the Cabinet Mission for UPSC Exam Preparation in this article.
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Cabinet Mission History
The Minister of state Mission was established at the British Prime Minister Clement Atlee’s initiative. Viscount Pethick-Lawrence, AV Alexander, and Sir Stafford Cripps were its three members. Although he wasn’t a formal participant, Lord Wavell, the viceroy at the time, participated in the procedure. At the time, the Congress Party and the Muslim League had fundamental ideological differences that prevented them from finding common ground. They disagreed on almost every topic.
A strong central authority with few powers granted to the provinces was what Congress favoured. The League advocated for robust protections for the rights of Muslims, the biggest minority group in the world in India. The mission released its own set of proposals in May 1946 because both parties had major ideological differences and were unable to find common ground.
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Cabinet Mission Objective
The goal of the Cabinet Mission is to come to an understanding with Indian authorities regarding the drafting of an Indian constitution. It also seeks to establish a body that wills draught constitutions (the Constituent Assembly of India). Another goal is to establish an Executive Council with the assistance of the main political groups in India.
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Cabinet Mission Arrival
The Cabinet Mission landed in Delhi on March 24, 1946. It conducted extensive discussions on interim governance, as well as the rules and processes for drafting a new constitution that would give India independence, with Indian leaders from all parties and groups. The mission presented its own constitutional solution in May 1946 because the Congress and the League were unable to concur on the crucial question of India’s unity or partition.
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Cabinet Mission Proposal
Rejecting the call for a fully-fledged Pakistan because it would contain a sizable non-Muslim population—38% in the North-West and 48% in the North-East—and because the concept of communal self-determination itself would require the division of Punjab’s Ambala and Jalandhar divisions, which are dominated by Sikhs and Hindus, and western Bengal, which has a Hindu majority. Bengal and Punjab should not be divided because doing so would jeopardise long-standing regional ties, create logistical and communicational issues for Pakistan’s western and eastern regions, and be dangerous due to the separation of the armed forces.
Three divisions or groups would be created within the provinces:
- Madras, the Central Provinces, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bombay, and Orissa are all part of Group A.
- Punjab, Sindh, the NWFP, and Baluchistan make up Group B.
- Group C is made up of Assam and Bengal.
There is a three-tiered administration and legislature at the provincial, sectional, and union levels. A constituent assembly was to be chosen by proportional representation by provincial legislatures (voting in three groups: general, Muslims, and Sikhs). Provincial legislatures would send 292, Chief Commissioner’s provinces would send 4, and Princely States would send 93 to make up the 389-member constituent assembly.
The constituent assembly’s members from groups A, B, and C were required to take separate seats in order to decide on the constitutions for the provinces and, if feasible, the groups as well. The union constitution would then be drafted by the full constituent assembly (all three sections A, B, and C combined). Defense, communication, and foreign affairs would all be under the control of one central command. India was supposed to have a sovereign system.
Community-related issues in the central legislature had to be resolved by a simple majority of both communities that were present and voting. Princely states were to be freed from the dominance of the British government and given complete autonomy as well as reservist powers. They would be allowed to negotiate a deal with the British government or any successor governments. A province would be free to quit a group after the first general elections, and after ten years, free to ask for a review of the group’s or the union constitution. The constituent assembly was supposed to create an interim administration in the meantime.
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Cabinet Mission and Other Party Reaction
The Muslim League and Congress both approved the Cabinet Mission’s long-term strategy on June 6, 1946, and June 24, 1946, respectively. Provincial assemblies conducted elections for the Constituent Assembly in July 1946. On July 10, 1946, Nehru said, “We are not constrained by anything other than the decision we have made to enter the Constituent Assembly.
It suggested that the Constituent Assembly would set its own norms of procedure and be in charge. Because the NWFP and Assam would oppose to section B and section C being combined, it is likely that no grouping will take place. In reaction to Nehru’s remarks, the League withdrew its approval of the long-term plan on July 29, 1946, and called for “direct action” to be taken starting on August 16 to bring about Pakistan.
According to the Congress, the Cabinet Mission Plan was against the establishment of Pakistan because grouping was voluntary, only one constituent assembly was envisioned, and the League no longer had a veto power. It shouldn’t be necessary for provinces to leave an alliance after the first general election. They should have the option to initially decide against joining a club.
Compulsory grouping is in opposition to the emphasis on provincial autonomy that is frequently expressed. It was unacceptable that there was no provision in the constituent assembly for chosen representatives from the princely states (they could only be proposed by the princes).
Muslim League Reaction
According to the Muslim League, the mandatory grouping suggested Pakistan. In order to prepare for potential secession into Pakistan, Sections B and C should be coerced into becoming stable entities. The League anticipated that Congress would refuse the proposal, leading to the government inviting the League to establish an interim administration.
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Cabinet Mission Significance
The Plan, also known as the “State Paper,” had a significant impact on the Constituent Assembly’s discussions during their early stages, especially those centered on federalism and Nehru’s Objective Resolution.
The Assembly recognized that the Plan was a part of how it came to be, and it wanted to, as much as possible; follow its recommendations in order to preserve its formal legitimacy and to leave room for the Muslim League to participate in its activities. The Assembly argued that the people of India, not the Plan, were the source of its authority at the same time. Additionally, The Cabinet Mission Plan is essential reading for academic works that discuss various facets of Indian constitutionalism, law, politics, and history, especially those that deal with federalism and partition.
Some scholars stress that the British self-interest behind the setting up of the Cabinet Mission was ‘to secure Britain’s military interests in India and the Indian Ocean Area’. The Cabinet Mission and its Strategy have been evaluated by other academics as follows: The Cabinet Mission (‘non-Indians’) should never have tried to mediate between the Congress and the Muslim league, according to Granville Austin, because “it was foredoomed to failure.”
Generally speaking, The Cabinet Mission Plan remains important for academics and the general public in understanding and making meaning of not only the beginnings of the Indian Constitution but also the future of the Indian republic.
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Cabinet Mission Reason for Failure
The Congress opposed the concept of provinces competing for central authority by being divided into groups based on the Hindu-Muslim majority. Additionally, it went against the idea of a weak core. The Muslim League opposed any changes to the plans. In June 1946, the mission put forth a new proposal after the original one was rejected. A Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority India, subsequently known as Pakistan, were to be created under this plan.
Additionally, a roster of princely states that could either join the union or keep their independence was created. The Congress Party of Jawaharlal Nehru opposed the second strategy. Instead, it consented to participate in the constituent assembly. In order to establish an interim administration, the Viceroy called a meeting of 14 men. There were five members of the League, five of the Congress, and one each from the scheduled caste, Parsee, Sikh, and Indian Christian groups.
Five people could be appointed to the Viceroy’s interim committee by either the League or the Congress. The League protested to the nomination of Zakir Hussain by the Congress on the grounds that the League only represented Indian Muslims and no other party. By refusing to participate, the Muslim League. Nehru became the head of the temporary administration after the leaders of the Congress joined the viceroy’s provisional council. The job of drafting the nation’s constitution was started by the new administration.
Congress-led administrations were established in the majority of provinces, including the NWFP. Bengal and Sind administrations were established by the League. Jinnah and the League were opposed to the new central authority. He vowed to campaign for Pakistan and exhorted Muslims to use any means required to demand it. He advocated for a “Direct Action Day” on August 16, 1946.
This call sparked widespread communal rioting across the country, with 5000 people killed on the first day in Calcutta alone. Riots erupted in a number of other areas, most notably Noakhali and Bihar. As a result of the riots, there was a call for the country to be partitioned. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was among the first Congress leaders to recognize the inevitability of partition as a means of putting an end to the brutal violence.
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Cabinet Mission UPSC
The Cabinet Mission was approved by Congress and the Muslim League on June 24, 1946, and June 6, 1946, respectively. After that, the League pulled out of the deal and pushed for immediate action to guarantee Pakistan’s freedom. Atlee made a statement following the failure of Cabinet Mission 1946 in which he established a deadline for the handover of authority and departure from India. Learn all of the Cabinet Mission information for UPSC Exam preparation.
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