Monday, September 12, 2016

Why Government of India Act 1935 was a Failure at all Levels

The Government of India Act of 1935 promised too much and delivered too little. Following are the major contentions with the Act

1) Formation of All India Federation 

a. By giving 1/3rd representation to the Princely States, on the basis of nomination, in the proposed Federal Assembly, the British shrewdly desired to have their say in the Assembly through “committed princes”. Congress saw through this farce and it never came to fruition

2) Government of India Act 1935 Failure At the Federal Level 

a. On matters of foreign affairs, defence, tribal areas and ecclesiastical affairs, the Governor General was advised by executive councilor not responsible to Central Legislature

b. System of religion based and class based electorates was further strengthened thereby fuelling separatist tendencies

c. Governor General still retained residuary powers to overturn decisions of Central Legislature. Eg restore cuts in grants, certify bills rejected by Assembly etc

3) Government of India Act 1935 Failure At the Provincial Level - 

Government of India 1935 Act ostensibly tried to grant autonomy to provinces by deriving legal authority of Governor from British Crown. However following were the shortcomings

a. The governor had several special powers regarding minorities, rights of civil servants etc and he/she could take up and run administration in “special circumstances”

b. 40% of the budget could still not be voted upon

4) Government of India Act 1935 Failure At the Constitutional Level – 

It provided for a very rigid constitution with rights of amendment reserved by British Parliament, thereby denying Indians a semblance of right of self determination. In the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Government of India 1935 Act provided a car with all brakes and no engines.

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