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History (Optional) Notes, Mindmaps & Related Current Affairs

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  2. FREE Samples
    4 Submodules
    1. Sources
    9 Submodules
  4. 2. Pre-history and Proto-history
    3 Submodules
  5. 3. Indus Valley Civilization
    8 Submodules
  6. 4. Megalithic Cultures
    3 Submodules
  7. 5. Aryans and Vedic Period
    8 Submodules
  8. 6. Period of Mahajanapadas
    10 Submodules
  9. 7. Mauryan Empire
    7 Submodules
  10. 8. Post – Mauryan Period
    7 Submodules
  11. 9. Early State and Society in Eastern India, Deccan and South India
    9 Submodules
  12. 10. Guptas, Vakatakas and Vardhanas
    14 Submodules
  13. 11. The Regional States during the Gupta Era
    18 Submodules
  14. 12. Themes in Early Indian Cultural History
    9 Submodules
    13. Early Medieval India (750-1200)
    9 Submodules
  16. 14. Cultural Traditions in India (750-1200)
    11 Submodules
  17. 15. The Thirteenth Century
    2 Submodules
  18. 16. The Fourteenth Century
    6 Submodules
  19. 17. Administration, Society, Culture, Economy in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
    13 Submodules
  20. 18. The Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Century – Political Developments and Economy
    14 Submodules
  21. 19. The Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Century – Society and Culture
    3 Submodules
  22. 20. Akbar
    8 Submodules
  23. 21. Mughal Empire in the Seventeenth Century
    7 Submodules
  24. 22. Economy and Society in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
    11 Submodules
  25. 23. Culture in the Mughal Empire
    8 Submodules
  26. 24. The Eighteenth Century
    7 Submodules
    1. European Penetration into India
    6 Submodules
  28. 2. British Expansion in India
    4 Submodules
  29. 3. Early Structure of the British Raj
    9 Submodules
  30. 4. Economic Impact of British Colonial Rule
    12 Submodules
  31. 5. Social and Cultural Developments
    7 Submodules
  32. 6. Social and Religious Reform movements in Bengal and Other Areas
    8 Submodules
  33. 7. Indian Response to British Rule
    8 Submodules
  34. 8. Indian Nationalism - Part I
    11 Submodules
  35. 9. Indian Nationalism - Part II
    13 Submodules
  36. 10. Constitutional Developments in Colonial India between 1858 and 1935
  37. 11. Other strands in the National Movement (Revolutionaries & the Left)
  38. 12. Politics of Separatism
  39. 13. Consolidation as a Nation
  40. 14. Caste and Ethnicity after 1947
  41. 15. Economic development and political change
    16. Enlightenment and Modern ideas
  43. 17. Origins of Modern Politics
  44. 18. Industrialization
  45. 19. Nation-State System
  46. 20. Imperialism and Colonialism
  47. 21. Revolution and Counter-Revolution
  48. 22. World Wars
  49. 23. The World after World War II
  50. 24. Liberation from Colonial Rule
  51. 25. Decolonization and Underdevelopment
  52. 26. Unification of Europe
  53. 27. Disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Rise of the Unipolar World
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I. Introduction to the Simon Commission – Context and Controversy

Background and Establishment of the Simon Commission

  • The Simon Commission, officially known as the Indian Statutory Commission, was established by the British Government in 1927 under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon. The commission was tasked with reviewing the Government of India Act of 1919, which itself introduced significant reforms such as the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms.
  • The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms had introduced the system of dyarchy, which aimed to provide shared governance between British officials and Indian ministers. However, the system did not fully satisfy Indian aspirations towards self-governance, leading to significant political agitation.
  • The establishment of the Simon Commission was seen as a necessary step by the British Government to evaluate the functioning of the constitutional reforms and suggest new steps forward. However, it was perceived differently by the Indian populace.

Scope of the Simon Commission

  • The commission was empowered to study the functioning of the constitutional system in India and to suggest improvements. The scope was broad, covering topics from administrative structure to fiscal policies and more.
  • Despite its broad mandate, the commission did not include any Indian members, which was a point of major contention. All seven members of the commission were British Parliamentarians, which starkly highlighted the lack of Indian representation.

Reasons for Unpopularity among Indians

  • Lack of Indian Representation: The absence of Indian members on the commission was seen as a blatant disregard for Indian opinions and a continuation of colonial dominance. This led to widespread outrage across various strata of Indian society.
  • Timing During Heightened Political Activity: The commission was announced shortly after a period of intense political activities in India, including the Non-cooperation Movement (1920-1922) led by Mahatma Gandhi, which had heightened political consciousness and demand for greater self-rule.
  • Response to Indian Demands for Self-Governance: The Indian political leadership had been advocating for greater participation in the governance of India. The Simon Commission, in contrast, was seen as a unilateral British move, decided without consultation with Indian leaders.

British Response to Indian Critiques

  • The British Government defended the composition of the Simon Commission by arguing the necessity of an impartial group to study the complex administrative needs of India without the interference of local political agendas.
  • However, the defense did little to quell the dissatisfaction among Indians, leading to the famous slogan “Simon Go Back,” which was widely used during protests against the commission.

Initial Reception in India

  • Upon arrival in India in 1928, the Simon Commission was met with widespread protests. Demonstrations were organized across the country, with participants wearing black badges and flags to signify mourning their exclusion from the commission.
  • These protests were not limited to any single region or community but included a wide cross-section of Indian society, indicating the deep-seated resentment against the perceived imperial intentions of the Simon Commission.

Impact on Subsequent Political Movements

  • The opposition to the Simon Commission became a rallying point for various Indian political movements, serving to unite disparate groups under a common cause against British rule.
  • The controversy and the protests against the Simon Commission set the stage for later political events, including the formulation of the Nehru Report in 1928, which was an all-Indian answer to the British-led Simon Commission and proposed a Dominion Status for India, far beyond what the Simon Commission was prepared to consider.

II. Objectives and composition of the Simon Commission – detailed analysis of the commission’s mandate

Objectives of the Simon Commission

  • The primary objective of the Simon Commission, officially known as the Indian Statutory Commission, was to review the Government of India Act of 1919. This act had introduced significant changes including the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms which set up a dyarchy system in the provinces.
  • The commission aimed to assess the successes and failures of the 1919 Act, focusing on how well the dyarchy system functioned in decentralizing power and increasing Indian participation in governance.
  • Another key objective was to make recommendations for future governance structures based on the assessment, aiming to evolve the administrative and political structure in India towards a more effective and possibly more inclusive governance model.

Composition of the Simon Commission

  • The Simon Commission was entirely composed of British members, all of whom were Parliamentarians. This was a strategic choice by the British Government, meant to ensure that the commission’s findings were aligned with British interests and perspectives.
  • The absence of Indian members on the commission was a critical point of contention and sparked widespread protests across India, as it was perceived as a lack of consideration for Indian voices in decisions that affected their own country.

Members’ Backgrounds and Expertise

  • Sir John Simon, the chairman, was a prominent lawyer and politician, known for his work in British law and policy. His leadership was seen as aligning the commission with legalistic and administrative expertise rather than political sensitivity towards Indian aspirations.
  • Other members included Clement Attlee, who later became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and was instrumental in many of the decisions regarding India’s path to independence.
  • The expertise of the members ranged from law to politics, but critically lacked any direct experience or understanding of Indian social, cultural, or political contexts.

Implications of an All-British Panel

  • The all-British composition was intended to maintain control over the recommendations, ensuring that they did not overly favor Indian demands for self-rule or independence.
  • This composition underscored the colonial approach to governance of India, viewing it through a British imperial lens rather than as a collaborative effort with Indian leaders.

Comparison with other contemporary commissions and committees

Commission/CommitteeYear EstablishedCompositionPurpose of Commission/Committee
Simon Commission1927All-British members, no Indian representationReview Government of India Act 1919, make governance recommendations
Royal Commission on Labour1929Included British and Indian membersExamine labour conditions in India, recommend improvements
Indian Central Committee1928Mixed composition of British and Indian expertsDiscuss future constitutional reforms and economic policies

III. Indian responses to the Simon Commission – Multi-faceted opposition

Different forms of protests and their organizers

  • Demonstrations were widespread, characterized by mass gatherings in major cities across India, including Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata, which were pivotal in demonstrating public dissent against the Simon Commission.
  • Hartals, which involve closing businesses and suspending all commerce as a form of protest, were effectively used to shut down local economies for a day or more, demonstrating the economic impact Indians could leverage against British policies.
  • Public meetings became platforms for vocal opposition, where leaders delivered speeches condemning the all-British composition of the Simon Commission, using these gatherings to mobilize and educate the masses about the implications of the Commission’s recommendations.
  • Organizers included a wide array of political and social leaders, ranging from those aligned with the Indian National Congress to other regional and communal groups, each bringing their local influence and networks to bolster the protests.

Role of major political parties and figures

  • Jawaharlal Nehru, a prominent leader of the Indian National Congress, vocally criticized the Commission for its exclusion of Indians and led numerous rallies and meetings that articulated a vision for self-governance and democratic participation.
  • Muhammad Ali Jinnah, representing the interests of the Muslim community and later the driving force behind the Muslim League, initially participated in protests but sought to leverage the situation to highlight specific Muslim concerns, advocating for separate electorates.
  • The strategies employed by these leaders included direct confrontation, public speeches, and engagement with British officials to negotiate terms that could better represent Indian interests, albeit these efforts were largely rebuffed at the time.

Impact on communal and regional dynamics

  • The Simon Commission inadvertently served as a catalyst for bringing various communal groups together under a common cause, albeit this unity was often superficial and punctuated by underlying tensions.
  • Reactions from various communal groups included:
    • Hindus and Muslims uniting temporarily to oppose a common imperial threat, which was a significant but fleeting aspect of Indian nationalism during this period.
    • Sikh leaders in Punjab expressing their discontent, fearing that any changes proposed by the Commission might undermine their economic and political interests.
  • Regional identities played a crucial role, as responses to the Simon Commission varied significantly across different areas:
    • Strong opposition in Bengal due to its politically active populace and history of anti-British sentiment.
    • More measured responses in regions like Madras, where political alignment with British policies was more common due to regional political dynamics.

Table: Overview of responses by region and community

Region/CommunityType of ResponseSpecific Issues Highlighted
BengalStrong oppositionAnti-British sentiment, demand for self-rule
PunjabModerate oppositionEconomic, political concerns of Sikh community
MadrasMeasured responseAlignment with some British policies
Muslim CommunityInitial unity with other groupsLater focused on separate electorates for Muslims

IV. Simon Commission’s proceedings and interactions in India – Encounters and outcomes

Description of key incidents during the Commission’s tours in India

  • The Lahore protest, one of the most significant incidents during the Simon Commission’s tour, occurred in October 1928. This major event was marked by massive public demonstrations against the Commission’s arrival in the city.
    • During the protests in Lahore, the police resorted to lathi charges (baton charges) to control the crowd, which included prominent leaders and activists.
    • Lala Lajpat Rai, a leading nationalist and a key figure in the Indian independence movement, was severely injured during these charges. His injuries later led to his death in November 1928, which became a pivotal moment in the history of Indian nationalism.
    • The death of Lala Lajpat Rai galvanized national sentiment against the Simon Commission, leading to an intensification of the freedom struggle and fostering a sense of betrayal and anger against British rule.

Analysis of the interactions between the Commission and Indian officials, leaders, and the public

  • The interactions between the Simon Commission and various segments of Indian society were marked by significant contrasts and conflicts:
    • With Indian officials: The Commission often faced formal but cold receptions from Indian government officials who, while obligated to assist the Commission, were sympathetic to the nationalist cause.
    • With Indian leaders: Encounters with Indian political leaders were fraught with tension; many leaders boycotted the Commission altogether, refusing to meet with or acknowledge its legitimacy.
    • With the public: The general Indian populace showed overt hostility towards the Commission, often expressed through protests and slogans like “Simon Go Back.”

Contrasts between British and Indian narratives of these encounters

AspectBritish NarrativeIndian Narrative
Objectives of the CommissionPresented as a fact-finding mission to improve governanceViewed as an imposition, lacking legitimacy due to no Indian representation
Methods of EngagementDescribed as rational and proceduralPerceived as dismissive and oppressive
Reception by OfficialsSeen as cooperative and accommodatingConsidered reluctantly compliant, under duress
Public ResponseCharacterized as unruly and manipulated by nationalist leadersCelebrated as a widespread expression of self-determination and resistance
Outcome of EncountersRegarded as necessary for administrative insights and reformsDeemed as further evidence of colonial disregard for Indian aspirations

V. Reports and recommendations of the Simon Commission – Critical evaluation

Overview of the Simon Commission’s report

  • The Simon Commission submitted its report in 1930, which included detailed observations and recommendations concerning the governance of India.
  • Main recommendations included:
    • Abolition of the dyarchy system introduced by the Government of India Act of 1919 and the introduction of provincial autonomy as a step towards a federal structure in India.
    • Suggested the establishment of a federation of British India and princely states, although it acknowledged that the time was not yet ripe for such a major restructuring.
    • Recommended the continuation of the communal electorates, a contentious point that had previously exacerbated communal divisions in the country.
    • Advised on the restructuring of the central government to provide greater Indian participation, though it fell short of the demands for full self-governance or dominion status.

Criticism of the Simon Commission’s findings

  • The Simon Commission’s findings were met with intense scrutiny and criticism from various quarters:
    • Indian critiques focused on the lack of Indian involvement in the Commission, which undermined the legitimacy of its recommendations in the eyes of many Indian leaders.
    • Critics argued that the recommendations did little to address the real aspirations of the Indian people for autonomy and self-rule, viewing them as superficial changes that continued to uphold British supremacy.
    • The continuation of communal electorates was particularly criticized for perpetuating division rather than fostering unity in Indian society.
    • British critiques were more procedural and concerned with the practical aspects of implementing the recommendations, particularly the cautious approach towards federalism and the implications for British control over Indian affairs.

Comparative evaluation of the Simon Commission’s recommendations with other reformative proposals

Table: Comparative evaluation of the Simon Commission’s recommendations with other reformative proposals

ProposalYearProponentKey FeaturesAlignment with Simon Commission
Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms1919Edwin Montagu and Lord ChelmsfordIntroduced dyarchy, increased Indian administrative rolesPrecedes, less progressive
Nehru Report1928Motilal NehruProposed dominion status, no communal electoratesMore progressive
Government of India Act1935British GovernmentIntroduced provincial autonomy, no dyarchyLargely aligned, more detailed
Cripps Mission Proposals1942Sir Stafford CrippsOffered India dominion status post-WWIIMore progressive, direct offer

VI. Legacy and impact of the Simon Commission on Indian nationalism – Long-term effects

Influence on subsequent political developments

  • The Simon Commission significantly influenced key political events and documents that shaped India’s path towards independence:
    • The Nehru Report of 1928, drafted as a direct response to the Simon Commission, proposed a constitutional framework for India, advocating for dominion status and rejecting communal electorates, which contrasted with the Commission’s conservative stance.
    • The Round Table Conferences (1930-1932) were a series of discussions held in London to discuss future governance of India. These conferences were partly necessitated by the Indian reaction to the Simon Commission’s recommendations and aimed to further elaborate on them.

Comparative analysis of the Simon Commission’s impact on different strands of Indian nationalism

Strand of NationalismDescriptionImpact of Simon Commission
Gandhi’s Constructive ProgramFocused on self-sufficiency and non-cooperationMotivated more fervent adoption and innovation
Militant NationalismAdvocated for more aggressive actions against British ruleFueled by discontent and anger from Simon Commission’s findings
  • Gandhi’s Constructive Program: This aspect of Indian nationalism focused on building a self-reliant community through non-violent resistance and was indirectly bolstered by the Simon Commission. The perceived failures and insensitivity of the Commission encouraged more Indians to turn towards Gandhi’s methods as a form of protest and assertion of national identity.
  • Militant Nationalism: The more militant strands of Indian nationalism, which included groups like the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, found new impetus in their fight against British rule due to the provocations and dismissive nature of the Simon Commission’s approach.

Effect on political mobilization and consciousness

  • The Simon Commission played a critical role in enhancing political awareness and mobilization across different social and political groups within India:
    • Political thought: The Commission’s dismissive attitude towards Indian political aspirations catalyzed a broader reevaluation of colonial rule among the Indian populace, leading to increased support for the Indian National Congress and other nationalist movements.
    • Political action: The backlash against the Simon Commission spurred various forms of political activism, from organized protests and boycotts to the formulation of comprehensive political strategies aimed at countering British policies.
    • The Commission’s impact extended beyond immediate political reactions, influencing the long-term narrative of the Indian independence movement by highlighting the disconnect between British administrative policies and the Indian demand for self-governance.

VII. Historiographical perspectives on the Simon Commission – Debates and discussions

Examination of different historiographical interpretations of the Simon Commission

  • Nationalist perspectives often portray the Simon Commission as a catalyst for unified Indian resistance against British rule. This interpretation emphasizes the Commission’s role in galvanizing Indian nationalist movements by blatantly excluding Indian members and ignoring Indian political aspirations.
  • Postcolonial perspectives critique the Commission from a viewpoint that considers the lasting impacts of colonialism on India’s political landscape. These interpretations focus on the Commission as an example of colonial manipulation and the paternalistic attitudes that pervaded British policies in India.
  • British perspectives typically justify the Simon Commission’s formation and objectives as necessary steps towards assessing and reforming colonial governance. This view tends to highlight the administrative challenges faced by the British and portrays the Commission’s efforts as part of a rational process of policy evaluation and adjustment.

Debate on the effectiveness and fairness of the Simon Commission

Historian/ContemporaryViewpointDescription of Effectiveness and Fairness
Indian NationalistCriticalCriticizes exclusion of Indians, sees as ineffective
Postcolonial ScholarAnalyticalQuestions fairness, highlights lasting impacts
British OfficialJustificatoryDefends as necessary, argues for its rationality
  • The debate on the Simon Commission’s effectiveness and fairness is marked by diverse opinions. While Indian nationalists and postcolonial scholars often criticize the Commission for its exclusionary practices and its failure to genuinely engage with Indian demands, British historical accounts tend to defend the Commission’s setup and goals as pragmatic under the circumstances of the time.

Role in shaping the narrative of British imperialism and Indian resistance

  • The Simon Commission has played a significant role in historical narratives about the end of British rule in India:
    • In British historical narratives, the Commission is often mentioned as part of a larger narrative of gradual administrative reforms aimed at preparing India for self-governance, albeit on British terms.
    • In Indian historical narratives, the Commission is frequently depicted as a turning point that exposed the fallacies of British imperial policy and contributed to the strengthening of a unified front against colonial rule.
    • The historiography of the Simon Commission reflects broader debates about the nature of British imperialism and the strategies of Indian resistance. It highlights how historical interpretation can vary significantly based on the narrator’s cultural and ideological background.

VIII. Conclusion and reflections on the Simon Commission – Summation and future research directions

Summative assessment of the Simon Commission’s role and legacy in Indian history

  • The Simon Commission, established in 1927, remains a pivotal moment in the colonial history of India, marking both a profound challenge and a significant catalyst in the journey toward Indian self-rule.
  • The Commission’s legacy is twofold:
    • Negative impact: It incited widespread national outrage due to its all-British composition and lack of Indian representation, which was seen as a direct insult to the Indian populace and a denial of their political maturity.
    • Catalytic role: Despite its initial unpopularity, the Simon Commission inadvertently united various factions of the Indian independence movement against a common adversary, fostering a renewed and more organized push for autonomy.
  • The repercussions of the Simon Commission were far-reaching, influencing subsequent political actions and reforms such as the Government of India Act of 1935 and laying the groundwork for more assertive demands for independence.

Suggestions for future research topics based on newly available archives, oral histories, and less explored aspects of the Simon Commission’s impact on Indian society and politics

  • Archival research:
    • Investigate newly accessible British and Indian archives that may hold untapped documents, correspondence, and reports related to the Simon Commission. This can provide a more nuanced understanding of the internal dynamics and discussions that shaped the Commission’s policies and decisions.
  • Oral histories:
    • Collect and analyze oral histories from descendants of those involved in the protests against the Simon Commission or from regions significantly impacted by its aftermath. Such narratives could offer personal insights and stories that are not captured in traditional historical accounts.
  • Impact on regional political structures:
    • Detailed study of how different regions within India responded to the Simon Commission and how these responses influenced local political developments and leadership in the subsequent decades.
  • Comparative analysis:
    • Conduct a comparative analysis of the Simon Commission with other colonial commissions to evaluate common patterns, differences, and outcomes. This can help contextualize the Simon Commission within the broader spectrum of British imperial policies and their impact on colonized nations.
  • Long-term social impact:
    • Research the long-term social impact of the Simon Commission on various communities, including the role it played in shaping communal identities and political affiliations in pre-independent India.
  • Influence on constitutional development:
    • Explore how the Simon Commission’s recommendations influenced the development of India’s constitutional framework, particularly in relation to federalism, electoral politics, and public administration.

These research directions not only enhance the understanding of the Simon Commission’s direct impact but also contribute to a broader comprehension of the dynamics of British colonial policy and Indian political response. Such studies could further enrich the historiography of Indian nationalism and provide deeper insights into the complexities of colonial rule and its legacy.

  1. Analyze the effectiveness of the Simon Commission’s recommendations on future governance in India. (250 words)
  2. Discuss the role of Indian political leaders in shaping the public response to the Simon Commission. (250 words)
  3. Compare and contrast the historiographical interpretations of the Simon Commission’s impact on Indian nationalism. (250 words)


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