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Quit India Movement

Quit India Movement


  • It was in 1942 when the world was going through the havoc caused by World War II. India too was facing the heat and after the Cripps Mission had failed, and on 8 August 1942, Mahatma Gandhi made a Do or Die call through the Quit India movement.
  • Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank Maidan also known as August Kranti Maidan is the place where the quit India movement was launched by Mahatma Gandhi. He along with other leaders gathered here on August 8 and 9, 1942.
  • The outcome of the movement was that Congress was declared an unlawful association and its offices all over the country were raided.
  • The leaders were arrested and there rose a chaotic moment with this incident.

Gandhi’s Instructions To Various Sections Of The Public

  • Government servants: do not resign your job but proclaim loyalty to the INC.
  • Soldiers: be with the army but refrain from firing on compatriots.
  • Peasants: pay the agreed-upon rent if the landlords/Zamindars are anti-government; if they are pro-government, do not pay the rent.
  • Students: can leave studies if they are confident enough.
  • Princes: support the people and accept the sovereignty of them.
  • People of the princely states: support the ruler only if he is anti-government; declare themselves as part of the Indian nation.

Key Facts

  • Several national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Abdul Kalam Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were arrested.
  • The Congress was declared an unlawful association, leaders were arrested and its offices all over the country were raided and their funds were frozen.
  • The first half of the movement was peaceful with demonstrations and processions. The peaceful protest was carried till Mahatma Gandhi’s release.
  • The second half of the movement was violent with raids and setting fire at post offices, government buildings and railway stations. Lord Linlithgow adopted the policy of violence.
  • The Viceroy’s Council of Muslims, Communist Party and Americans supported Britishers.

Spread of Movement  | Quit India Movement

  • A spontaneous outburst of mass anger: the arrest of leaders led to mass upsurge all over the country for six or seven weeks after the unexpected event of August 9, 1942.
  • ‘Do or Die’ mantra: Gandhi’s famous mantra “We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery” led to an arrest of all the top leaders of the Congress in the early hours of August 9, 1942, and being taken to unknown destinations.
  • National flags were forcibly hoisted on public buildings in defiance of the police. Cities, towns and villages witnessed the people’s wrath. The greatest level of violence occurred in Bihar and Eastern United Province (now Uttar Pradesh).
  • Methods used: people devised a variety of ways of expressing their anger. In some places, huge crowds attacked police stations, post offices, courts, railway stations and other symbols of a government authority.
  • Parallel governments were established at many places:
  • Ballia (in August 1942 for a week) under Chittu Pandey.
  • Satara (mid-1943 to 1945), “Prati Sarkar”, was organised under leaders like Y.B. Chavan, Nana Patil, etc.
  • Tamluk (Midnapore, from December 1942 to September 1944) Jatiya Sarkar undertook cyclone relief work, sanctioned grants to schools, supplied paddy from the rich to the poor, organised Vidyut Vahinis, etc.
  • Mahatma Gandhi refused to condemn the violence of the masses and held the government responsible for this violence.

Why Was The Movement Launched?

  • The Second World War had started in 1939 and Japan, which was part of the Axis Powers that were opposed to the British in the war were gaining onto the north-eastern frontiers of India.
  • The British had abandoned their territories in South-East Asia and had left their population in the lurch. This act did not garner much faith among the Indian population who had doubts about the British ability to defend India against Axis aggression.
  • Gandhi also believed that if the British left India, Japan would not have enough reason to invade India.
  • Apart from hearing news about British setbacks in the war, the war-time difficulties such as high prices of essential commodities fostered resentment against the British government.
  • The failure of the Cripps Mission to guarantee any kind of a constitutional remedy to India’s problems also led to the INC calling for a mass civil disobedience movement.

Impact of the Quit India Movement

  • It kept the Congress Party united through their difficult times.
  • It played a crucial role in India’s independence.
  • Since the movement was responsible in the destruction of many edifices and facilities, the British had to reconstruct many facilities if they were to rule India for a longer period of time.
  • The movement conveyed to the British that India had the support of global leaders, as the then American President Franklin Roosevelt had urged the British administration to consider at least some of the demands put forth by the Indian leaders.

Significance Of The Movement

  • The movement was carried forward without the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, or any other leader, all of whom were jailed on its commencement.
  • The slogan of ‘Do or Die’ remains the most Krantikari slogan to this day.
  • Decentralized command was the prime significance of this movement.
  • All sections of people participated in huge numbers.
  • The British began to seriously think about the issue of Indian independence after seeing the upsurge among the masses. It changed the nature of political negotiations with British empire in 1940s which ultimately paved the way of India’s independence.
  • It is also a symbol of political betrayal. Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) and even the undivided Communist party opposed Gandhi as well as his call for complete civil disobedience.

Drawbacks | Quit India Movement

  • The movement was crushed in a relatively short period of time by the British.
  • Use of violent methods by the volunteers and participants.
  • Lack of leadership did not lead to well-coordinated guidance and progress of the movement, with the intensity restricted to a few pockets.


Indian Polity

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