The Government of India Act, 1935

by Ben Alford

The result of the Round Table Conferences was the Government of India Act in 1935. For the first time Indians played a significant part in the government of their country, but the British retained real control.

• India was divided into eleven provinces, each of which had a legislative assembly and a provincial government. The provinces would control almost all policies, with the exception of defence and foreign affairs. The Legislative Assemblies would be mostly Indian.

• Each province would have an appointed governor, who retained the power to act in an emergency, for example to protect the interests of minorities, or maintain law and order.

• There would also be a central parliament in Delhi, with two chambers. In both chambers there were elected and appointed members. The Assembly contained 250 seats for Indian constituencies and 125 seats for the Indian princes.

• The Viceroy would still be appointed by Westminster and would be responsible for defence and foreign affairs. But the Viceroy would have to follow the advice of an Executive Committee, which was mostly Indian.

Reactions to the Government of India Act

Congress rejected the Government of India Act because:

• It wanted a complete break from Britain, not a ‘halfway house’ and it did believe that the British intended to give India complete independence.

• It did not want to have to make special provision for minorities, which might limit its power in the future.

 

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