Do You Agree with the View Expressed in Source H That the Concessions Made to Indian Democracy by 1919 Were Given Simply to Shore Up the British Raj?

Topics: British Raj, India, British Empire Pages: 5 (1853 words) Published: December 16, 2010
Do you agree with the view expressed in source H that the concessions made to Indian democracy by 1919 were given simply to shore up the British Raj? All the sources H, P and Q seem to suggest that the concessions made by the Government of India towards a democracy were mainly to ensure the continuation of support for the British Raj. However we do know that there were some more liberal members of the Government of India such as John Morley the Secretary of State and that there were those who supported these reforms in an attempt to create colonial self-government in India. Edwin Montagu was also extremely focused on reform and it appears that there were steps towards liberating India. However it is also evident that these reforms were modest and still ensured that the British were ultimate rulers causing historians to question the true motives of reforms such as the Government of India Act in 1919. All reforms could also be seen to refer to events of unrest or expectations of the Indian population that were necessary to fulfil in order to satisfy the political opposition and prevent outright protest. Firstly the British Raj was under a lot of pressure from the newly emerging political groups in the early 1900s. Indian nationalism was a fairly new idea and though the Indian National Congress had been founded in 1885 it was not until 1908 that it became a serious political party. The amount of support that the INC began to generate after 1908 meant that the Government of India needed to make some concessions in order to keep at least the more moderate members of the INC under control. This idea is supported by source H which sees the 1909 Councils Act as an attempt to ‘defuse the forces of Indian Nationalism’, through small extensions of the franchise and the number of Indian electorates on the councils. Many argue that the only reason Britain introduced the Indian Councils Act along with the Morley-Minto reforms was to ‘shore-up’ the British Raj and to prevent the unrest that the British Raj had previously seen in 1857 in the Indian Mutiny and more recently in 1905 after the partition of Bengal. This view could be supported with the fact that most reforms happened to be made when there was either much unrest or expectation amongst the population such as after WWI when India’s voluntary contribution and support deserved reward which was given by the 1919 Government of India Act. However this was only partly successful as it did not satisfy the expectations of the INC who boycotted the elections nor did it satisfy the residents of the Punjab who became increasingly violent. However we can see through the Rowlatt Acts that Source H is not altogether correct in its opinion that the reforms introduced were in order to ‘shore up’ the British Raj as when threatened with the unrest that the Government of India Act caused it did not introduce more reforms to appease opposition it introduced repression and repealed the reforms made over the past two decades, such as fair trials in the law and the discontinuation of censorship and house arrest. This certainly did not please political activists in India at the time. Muhammad Ali Jinnah resigned from his post in the government and in Source Q we can see he felt that ‘constitutional rights... [have been]... violated’ and the ‘principles of justice have been uprooted’. However it would be in Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s interests to exaggerate in a letter to the Viceroy in an attempt to make him listen through using such strong words. The source also shows the opinion of one man who is educated and can not represent the true feelings of the entire population. The fact that in the face of opposition in 1919 caused from famines and the huge deaths after the Spanish Influenza pandemic, 13 million deaths are thought to have been a result of the disease, the British Raj chose repression over reformation shows us that perhaps the reforms previously introduced weren’t to ‘shore up’ the British Raj but...
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