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Cripps Mission – Objectives & Failure

  • Last Updated : 31 Jan, 2022

After the Simon Mission of 1928, Cripps mission was sent to India to carry out constitutional development in our country, headed by Sir Stafford Cripps in March 1942. The main motive of this mission was to seek the cooperation of Indians in the British war efforts in World war II. The government had already come up with constitutional acts of 1919, 1935, and the Simon commission and now it was the turn of Cripps Mission to prove its efficiency.

Background: 

At the beginning of World war II, Japan had emerged as a superpower and attacked the colonies of the British in South East Asia. The British colonial territory of Malaya, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong has been acquired by Japan and now they were heading towards India. The British confidence reached its nadir with the fall of Singapore in 1942. Japan had also acquired the Pearl Harbor island of America. This political crisis pushed Britain to acquire support from India to protect its Indian colony from Japanese threat.

In India, the leaders were divided on the opinion of India’s involvement in the war. it was seen that some leaders agreed to support the British in the war with the hope of it being reciprocated with independence after the war, but leaders like Mahatma Gandhi was not in support of India’s joining hands with Britain in the war because he was aware of Britain sincerity about India’s development. Under the pressure of the USA, USSR and China, and others, Britain was compelled to acquire the support of India in the war and for that reason, it sent Cripps Mission, headed under Staffords Cripps to India.

Objective: 

After the fall of Burma, the Japanese forces were on the border of India. The solution to this Japanese threat was to persuade Indian leaders to support the British in their war efforts in world war II. Therefore, Cripps Mission was sent to create a connection between political London and the leaders of the independence movement in India.

During world war II, the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow had announced India’s involvement in the war on the British side, even without asking India about it. This gesture of the British angered the Indian and in reiteration of this, the congress resigned from the seats of 7 states. This created a vacuum and so Cripps mission main motive was to fill this political vacuum. 

It was seen that Britain was facing pressure from its allies (USA, USSR, China) over its policies in India, and in order to ameliorate its own position and secure India’s cooperation in the war, the British government was compelled to send Cripps mission to India.

One of the reasons for the British defeat in south Asia was that it was unable to obtain the support of the citizens of that country. The Britishers did not want to repeat that same mistake in India, and so they were incessantly making efforts to gain India’s support for the war.

Proposals:

  • After the war ends, the Cripps mission proposed to provide dominion status to India. That means that India would be in a transition phase between colonial and self-government. keeping it aloof from the rule of self-government.
  • It proposed to frame the Constituent Assembly, which would be authorized to frame its own constitution and the members of which would be partly elected by the provincial assemblies through proportional representation and partly nominated by the princes. it also stated that the new constitution-making body would safeguard the racial and religious minorities.
  • It also provided the Indian provinces to either join the Indian territory or secede from it and form its separate constitution and a separate union. Basically, it aimed to break the Sovereignty and integrity of our country. and act as a blueprint of India’s partition.
  • Under this, defense power was kept under the British hands and the governor-general powers would remain intact.

Congress Objection To Cripps Mission: 

  • In the 1929 congress session, the congress had declared self-government as its goal, but the Cripps mission offered dominion status instead of the provision of complete independence. This offer of the British did not fulfill congress’s dreams of self-government.
  • The Congress objected to the  British plan of  State representation by nominated members and not by the elected representatives.
  • The clause of the right to secede from the Indian union if desired was acting as a blueprint of partition of India went against the principles of making a united India.
  • The Mission lacked any clear-cut timeline of transfer of power from British to Indian hands and also the supremacy of the governor-general would be retained was not accepted by the congress.

Muslim League Objection To Cripps Mission:

  • Muslim league objected to the idea of a single union of India. The plan did not talk about the creation of a separate territory called Pakistan, as per the demand of the Muslim league.
  • The Muslim League did not like the British way of constituting a constituent assembly for India to frame its own constitution.
  • The Muslim League did not like the procedure stated by the British to join the Union or secede from it. This, in no way catered to the demands of the Muslim League.

Reason for Failure:

  • The mission failed to meet the demands of self-government of the Leaders. This Mission also kept itself confined to the goal of Dominion status as stated in the August Offer of 1940. For this reason, Gandhi Stated the Cripps Mission as a ‘Post Dated cheque on a Crashing bank‘.
  • It put a question upon the unity of India by providing provinces with the right to secede from the Union. This was the first step toward creating a separate territory called Pakistan.
  • Though it provided for the creation of constituent assembly and thereafter the constitution of India, the member of the constituent assembly for not elected but nominated. This created much resentment among the people of India.
  • Though the Mission proposed to Transfer the powers to India, the actual date was not mentioned and Indians could not trust the British of its promises made.
  • It was seen that Indians were already aware of British Policies and attitude, it was not in a mood to trust the British again with such a menial proposal, and that too at a time when India was in a position of Japanese threat.
  • The ‘take it or leave it‘ attitude of the British resulted in the deadlock of the mission.

The Cripps Mission, like the earlier movement was unsuccessful in its attempt. This attempt failed to influence the Indians to its side and its voluntary withdrawal from India resulted in the launch of the Quit India Movement. Therefore, Cripps Mission can be said as the precursor of the Quit India Movement of Gandhiji in India. 

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