Cripps Mission – 1942

The British Government sent a mission headed by a cabinet minister, Sir Stafford Cripps, in March 1942 to seek Indian support for the 2nd World War. The name of Cripps Mission is on the name of Sir Stafford Crips.

Sir Stafford Crips had earlier been a member of the Labour Party and the leader of the House of Commons and a member of the British War Cabinet. He was a strong supporter of the Indian National Movement.

Reasons for the Crips Mission

The Cripps Mission, headed by Stafford Cripps was sent to India with the purpose of Immediate support of the Indian effort in World War II.

The immediate reasons for the Crips Mission were as follows:

  • On 22nd June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Japan attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbour and joined the war on the side of Germany.
  • Japan overran the Philippines, Indo-China, Indonesia, Malaya, and Burma. It also occupied Rangoon in March 1942. The Japanese threat to invade India seemed real now, so the British Government now desperately wanted the active support of Indians in the war effort.
  • There was pressure on Britain from the Allies – USA, USSR, and China to seek Indian Cooperation. This also led the British Government to send the Cripps mission to India.
  • Indian Nationalists agreed to support the Allied cause if Britain transfer the substance of power to India immediately and completed independence after the war.

Main Proposals of Cripps Mission

The main proposals of Cripps Mission were as follows:

  • The setup of the Indian Union with dominion status. There was freedom to the dominion state to decide the relations with the commonwealth and free to participate in the United Nations or to collaborate with other international bodies.
  • A constituent assembly would be convened to frame a new constitution after the end of the war.
  • The members of the constituent assembly would be partly elected by the provincial assemblies through proportional representation and partly nominated by the princes.
  • If any province was not willing to join the Union, then it could form a separate constitution and separate Union.
  • The effect of immediate power transfer and safeguarding racial and religious minorities would be negotiated by the new constitution-making body and the British government.
  • The defense of India would remain in the British hands. The power of the Governor-general would not be altered. The Viceroy retained his autocratic powers in the present.

Significances of the Mission:

In the proposal of Cripps mission, there were significant differences in many aspects from previous offers by the British government:

  • The constitution-making was solely in the Indian hand for the first time.
  • For Constituent assembly, a concrete plan was provided.
  • It was a blueprint for India’s partition – “As the province were provided the option for the separate constitution and to form a separate union”.
  • After getting dominion status India had a choice to withdraw from Commonwealth.
  • In the interim period, Indians were allowed a good share in administration.

Reasons for the failure of Cripps Mission

The Cripps Mission proposals failed as the Indian leaders could not be satisfied by mere promises for the future by the British Government.  Various parties and leaders had objections to different points of the proposals. The Mission was rejected by INC, League, and other organizations.

Main points for the failure of Cripps Mission:
  • The main point for objection was the provinces’ right to secede.
  • The Liberals considered these proposals to be against the unity and security of India.
  • The Hindu Mahasabha opposed it on the basis of the right to secede.
  • The depressed classes also objected to it. They thought that the partition would leave them at the mercy of the caste Hindus.
  • Sikhs had objections because the partition would take away Punjab from them.
  • In the proposal, it was not clear who would implement and interpret the treaty affecting the transfer of power.
  • The reason for failure was also the lack of the support of Churchill (The then British Prime Minister), Amery (The secretary of state), Linlithgow (the viceroy), and Ward (the commander in chief)
Reasons for the INC rejected Cripps Mission

The INC rejected the Mission for the following reasons:

  • Congress objected to the point of dominion status instead of a provision for complete independence.
  • There was a provision for the representation of Princely states by nominees instead of elected representatives.
  • The provinces were given the right to secede. It went against the principle of National Unity.
  • The British government refused to accept Congress’s demand for the immediate transfer of effective power to Indians.
  • There was an absence of real share in defense,
  • The supremacy of the governor-general had been retained, and the demand of the Congress that “the governor-general be only the constitutional head” was rejected.
  • Gandhi described the scheme as “a post-dated cheque”
Reasons for the Muslim League rejected Cripps Mission

Reasons for the Muslim League objected to the Mission:

  • The Muslim League criticized the mission on the idea of a single Indian Union.
  • They did not like the process of the creation of a constituent assembly.
  • Also, they were against the procedure to decide on the accession of provinces to the Union.
  • They rejected it as the proposals denied the Muslim’s right to self-determination and also the creation of Pakistan.
Precurosre of Quit India Movement

The Stafford Cripps returned home. The failure of the Cripps Mission embittered the people of India.  While they still fully sympathized with the anti-fascist forces. They thought that the existing political situation in the country had become intolerable.

The CWC meeting at Wardha (14 July 1942) accepted the idea of struggle, and the charge would be in the hand of Gandhi. It was Proposed by Jawaharlal Nehru and seconded by Sardar Patel.

On 8 August 1942, the All India Congress Committee met in Bombay and passed the famous Quit India’ resolution and proposed the start of a non-violent mass struggle under Gandhi’s leadership.


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