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UPSC Modern Indian History
The Wavell Plan was a proposal presented at the Shimla Conference in 1945 that aimed to provide a formula for a future government of India that would be acceptable to both the Indian National Congress and the All-India Muslim League. However, the conference was unsuccessful in reaching an agreement.
Jan 19, 2023
2 min read
The Wavell Plan and Shimla Conference were significant events in the history of India's struggle for independence from British rule. The Wavell Plan, named after Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India, was presented at the Shimla Conference in 1945. The plan proposed a formula for the future government of India that would be acceptable to both the Indian National Congress and the All-India Muslim League, allowing for a smooth transition of power.
The Wavell Plan proposed the formation of a Viceroy's Executive Council with all Indian members except the Viceroy himself and the commanders-in-chief. The council was to have a "balanced representation" of all Indians, including "caste-Hindus", Muslims, Depressed Classes, Sikhs, etc. Muslims were given 6 out of 14 members, which accounted for more than their share of the population (25%). The Viceroy/Governor-General would still have the power of veto but its use would be minimal. The foreign affairs portfolio would be transferred from the Governor-General to an Indian member, and the defense would be handled by a British general until the full transfer of power was made.
The Shimla Conference was convened by Lord Wavell to discuss the Wavell Plan and to get a list of all the members recommended to the Council from all parties concerned. However, the conference was a failure as the League and the Congress could not settle their differences. Jinnah insisted that only League members could be the Muslim representatives in the Council, and opposed the Congress nominating Muslim members. This was because Jinnah wanted the League to be the sole representative of Muslims in India, but the Congress would never agree to this demand.
In conclusion, the Wavell Plan and Shimla Conference were important attempts at resolving the political situation in India during the 1940s. Although the plan and conference failed, they were significant steps towards Indian independence and the formation of a government that represented the diverse communities of India. Image: Wavell meets Indian leaders at Shimla Conference, Wikimedia Commons
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