India Reform of 1935

By | December 16, 2021

The reform of 1935 was strongly opposed by the Indian Congress, which nevertheless ended up deciding to participate in the elections of January-February 1937; rightly so, because they marked his great success. Congress refused, however, to establish ministries in the seven provinces in which it had a majority if the governors had not declared that they were renouncing to make use of the special powers reserved to them by the constitution. In these provinces, therefore, provisional ministries had to be established, without sufficient support in the chambers (April 1, 1937). The crisis lasted for three months and ended when, following a conciliatory message from the viceroy who gave ample assurances on the use of special powers, Congress decided to take responsibility for the government; during July, congress ministries were formed in the seven provinces. In February 1938 there was a brief conflict between governors and prime ministers in Bihar and the United Provinces over the issue of the release of political prisoners, which the governors vetoed. Apart from this crisis, which soon ended with a compromise, the constitutional experiment in the provinces worked satisfactorily. The Indian ruling class was able to show sufficient administrative skills and a constructive spirit, especially in the thorny problem of public education. the hostility, shown by the congress ministries, to Muslim interests. In four years the Muslim League, hitherto of little influence in the country, began to attract more and more of the Muslim masses into its ranks, disappointed by the congressional experiment and incredulous of a peaceful coexistence with the Hindus. On the other hand, the Hindū Mahāsabhā, a Hindu orthodox organization that fought the Congress for its alleged compliance towards Muslims, acquired a certain importance.

Successfully applied in the provinces, the 1935 law never managed to enter into force in the central administration, which remained as it was in 1919. The Indian federation envisaged by the statute could not be constituted. It was fiercely opposed, for opposite reasons, by the Indian princes, fearful of an excessive diminution of their prerogatives, and the Congress which saw in the central government and in the wide powers reserved to the viceroy an instrument of England to make vain the wide autonomy of the provinces. Parliamentary opposition from Congress in the Central Legislative Assembly led to disapproval of the 1938-39 budget; Platonic affirmation of mistrust, because the viceroy used his reserved powers to declare the budget approved. As for the Indian princes, they definitively rejected the federation on June 2, 1939. However, the new times were making themselves felt even in the closed autocratic world of the native states; from 1937 onwards a good number of them introduced more or less important reforms. The pressure exerted from below contributed greatly to this, that is, by the subjects organized in local movements, theoretically independent, but practically guided and inspired by the Indian Congress. On some occasions the struggle took on dramatic aspects, as in Raikot, a small state of Kathiawar, where Gandhi intervened, starting a fast (March 3, 1939) to force the sovereign to keep his promises; the conflict was closed through arbitration by the Chief Justice of India. starting a fast (March 3, 1939) to force the sovereign to keep his promises; the conflict was closed through arbitration by the Chief Justice of India. starting a fast (March 3, 1939) to force the sovereign to keep his promises; the conflict was closed through arbitration by the Chief Justice of India. For India 2003, please check

Congress thus appeared to be on its way to becoming a ruling party, slightly easing its opposition to England. This did not fail, of course, to arouse impatience in the country, especially among the most heated elements. The interpreter of this discontent was S. Ch. Bose, who, re-elected president of the Congress on January 29, 1939, resigned due to his incurable conflict with Gandhi, and founded the Forward Block on May 3. This ultra-nationalist organization had a decent following, especially in Bengal, without however seriously undermining the position of Congress.

This development of the Indian situation was abruptly interrupted and events were channeled in an entirely different direction by the outbreak of the Second World War.

India Reform