Lord Mountbatten, then Viceroy of India, describes the 15th August as ‘the most remarkable and inspiring day of my life’…. He was asked to become the Governor-General of India after independence, which he accepted for a limited transitional period…
Viceroy’s personal report no. 17, dated 16th August, 1947, marked as
Top Secret and Personal, says :
“ At 6 p.m. the great event of the day was to take place – the salutation of the new Dominion flag. This programme had originally included a ceremonial lowering of the Union Jack: but when I discussed this with Nehru he entirely agreed that this was a day they wanted everybody to be happy, and if the lowering of the Union Jack in any way offended British susceptibilities, he would certainly see that it did not take place, the more so as the Union Jack would still be flown on a dozen days a year in the Dominion.”
And new India led by Jawaharlal Nehru promised India would continue to be part of Commonwealth led by the British Crown. India continues to be so till date.
Following are EXTRACTS from some materials, official and historical documents, about 1947 August 15. Notes, and emphases are added by us. They show what a sham the independence was.
1) Indian Independence Act 1947
1947 CHAPTER 30 10 and 11 Geo 6
An Act to make provision for the setting up in India of two independent Dominions, to substitute other provisions for certain provisions of the Government of India Act 1935, which apply outside those Dominions, and to provide for other matters consequential on or connected with the setting up of those Dominions [18th July 1947]
The new Dominions.
(1)As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan.
(2)The said Dominions are hereafter in this Act referred to as “the new Dominions”, and the said fifteenth day of August is hereafter in this Act referred to as “the appointed day”.
Long title : An Act to make provision for the setting up in India of two independent Dominion states, to substitute other provisions for certain provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, which apply outside those Dominions, and to provide for other matters consequential on or connected with the setting up of those Dominions.
Citation: 1947 c. 30 (10 & 11. Geo. 6.)
Date of Royal assent 18 July 1947.
Note : The word independence nowhere occurs….It says : two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan.
The Concise OXFORD Dictionary gives the meaning : “ Dominion (historical) is a self-governing territory of the British Commonwealth”
It speaks of “setting up in India”….here India can only mean British India… , ie., setting up two units, India and Pakistan, in British India.
Earl of Listowel , a minister in the (wartime) Churchill and Attlee governments, who was part of Mountbatten’s team wrote : We had assumed, when the Bill was drafted, that the two new Dominions would have a common Governor-General, and that Mountbatten would be willing to stay on in this capacity.
That is both will have the same British Boss.
He revealed, rather recalled in a 1980 speech :
“ In the first draft of the India Bill, the title at its head appeared as ‘India (Dominion Status) Bill’. Cripps sensed immediately that Indian opinion would think that this was an imperialist trick to give something less than complete independence. At his suggestion the Cabinet therefore decided to change the title to ‘India (Independence) Bill’…” However, the content remains the same, and speaks of setting up two dominions. (More about him and his speech is given below)
The legislation was formulated by the government of Clement Attlee with the recommendation of the Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten, after representatives of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Sikh community came to an agreement with Lord Mountbatten on what has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or Mountbatten Plan. This plan was the last plan for independence.
Article 395 of Constitution of India – Repeals The Indian Independence Act, 1947 , and the Government of India Act, 1935 , together with all enactment s amending or supplementing the latter Act, but not including the Abolition of Privy Council Jurisdiction Act, 1949 ..Thus this Act of 1947 was in operation until 1950 January 26. Later, it is repealed, but its content is essentially retained. India continues to be part of Commonwealth as envisaged in it.
The 1947 Act has not been repealed in the United Kingdom, where it still has effect, although some sections of it have been repealed, says Wikipedia.
Picture : The British Empire’s Seal under which the Act was made
- The British Partner in the Transfer of Power
Ninth Lecture – by the Earl of Listowel 24 June 1980
(Following extracts from the lecture are self-evident. They stress the deciding role of Britain, and Mountbatten as its Representative. Emphases added.)
The story of the transfer of power has been told before…. I know from my personal experience as a minister in the (wartime) Churchill and Attlee governments. This gave me some insight into the part played by the British Government in its dealings with the Government of India and the Indian political leaders during the final stages. But before I proceed any further I am sure you would wish me to remind you that we are meeting on the eve of what would have been Lord Mountbatten’s eightieth birthday…..
He accomplished his task with so much skill and understanding that it bound our two countries in the close friendship we enjoy at the present time. This was brought home to me with startling vividness by the welcome accorded to a parliamentary delegation with which I visited India last year, traversing the country from New Delhi to Chandigarh, and from there to Madras and Bombay. Wherever we went his (Mountbatten’s) name was remembered and acclaimed, with that of Nehru and Gandhi, as one of the founding fathers of the Indian nation. …
But imagine our astonishment when Mountbatten went on to inform us that both new nations now wished to stay in the Commonwealth, on condition that their independence could be expedited. He pointed out that Jinnah had always wanted Pakistan to become a Dominion in the Commonwealth, and that Congress, realizing that this would place them at a disadvantage, had asked for a similar constitutional status, provided the transfer could be effected earlier than June 1948. Nehru also regarded Dominion Status as a transitional arrangement that might lead to Indian unity.
It was V. P. Menon who drafted the Dominion Status scheme, which had proved acceptable to all concerned. Ministers were of course delighted by this change of front, and agreed without a murmur to a plan for the final transfer that now had the support of both communities as well as the Viceroy. ….
The process of partitioning British India was now in the hands of Mountbatten and the Indian party leaders,….. For this purpose Boundary Commissions were set up, and I was asked to find an independent chairman. As he was to have a casting vote, he would in fact decide the boundaries between the two new Dominions, and this obviously required the judicial mind of someone outside politics. I was advised that the best choice would be a High Court judge, with a brilliant record at the Bar, Sir Cyril Radcliffe. …I remember my trepidation when I went to see him …But with fine public spirit he accepted this difficult and controversial assignment without a moment’s hesitation….
We were thankful that Mountbatten shared our views to the full. We owe it to his remarkable influence with their rulers that the vast majority of the Princely States speedily negotiated their accession to one or other of the new Dominions. It was thus, thanks mainly to Mountbatten’s persuasive power and royal blood, that a legacy of potential strife and further fragmentation was avoided…
- Role of Patel :
Over 560 princely states acceded to India by 15 August. Much credit is given to Patel and the Army in building new India. Facts are otherwise. Vast majority of the Princely States speedily negotiated their accession to one or other of the new Dominions, influenced and guided by Mountbatten, as seen above.
Vallabhai Patel , the Iron man, was only implementing the accession Plan by the British political engineer Mountbatten.
It was executed by the Indian Army, trained and reared under the British for more than a century, which continued to be under the Supreme Command of the British Commander-in-Chief, General Boucher for two years after August 15, 1947. Communist Revolutionary T. Nagi Reddy, in his monumental work , India Mortgaged, quotes Indian army’s Brigadier J.R Dalvi, author of the famous book, Himalayan Blunder :
“ Thus the Indian Army was developed as a mercenary army in the interests of the Imperialist power, completely cut off from the mainstream of the people, without national aims, and purposefully kept aloof from the political environment. It was such an army as this that the Indian Government received as a legacy from the British. Along with its anti-national legacy, the Indian Army continued to be under the Supreme Command of the British Commander-in-Chief, General Boucher for two years after August 15, 1947. Our Defence Services Education continued to be in the hands of the Imperialists, as was the case at the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington where, in October 1950 “the Commandant, General W.D.A. Lontaigne, strode into the main lecture hall, interrupted the lecturer and proceeded to denounce our leaders for their short sightedness and inaction in the face of Chinese Action “…
(Brigadier J.R Dalvi, Himalayan Blunder, Page. 28)
(See article The Bourgeoisie And The Bourgeois Democratic Revolution,
by MK Adithya, in countercurrents.org, of August 13, 2016.
Before the India Office disappeared for ever on 15 August, the day of Indian Independence, I was expected to return my seals of office to the King. But when I asked for them, I was informed by my officials that they had been lost a long time ago by one of my predecessors. This has always seemed to me rather a strange story, as Secretaries of State do not go about with their seals of office like small
change in their pockets. But I dare say the mystery of the vanishing seals will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of history. …
4) Indian Independence: Transfer of Power
Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma’s personal report No. 17 which was his last report as Viceroy of India, 16 August 1947, the last week of British rule in India. [IOR: L/PO/6/123]
(The extracts, self-explanatory, throw light on the mood of the day, August 15, 1947, as seen by him, and among elite classes, and reveals the slavish mindset, cultivated by the Congress etc. The numbers indicate the para numbers of the Report. Emphases added.)
Above : Times of India reports independence.
Lord Mountbatten, Viceroy of India, describes the 15th August as ‘the most remarkable and inspiring day of my life’ (see para 62). He was asked to become the Governor-General of India after independence, which he accepted for a limited transitional period.
Top Secret and Personal
Viceroy’s personal report no. 17, dated 16th August, 1947.
This last week of British rule in India has been the most hectic of any. We have been working longer hours and under more trying conditions, and with crises of differing magnitudes arising every day, and sometimes two or three times a day. The problem of the States continued to occupy most of my time, particularly of those Rulers who have kept changing their mind up to the last moment, whether to accede to India, to Pakistan, or to neither. I paid my farewell visit to Karachi, and took part in unbelievable scenes on the day of the transfer of power in Delhi. The issue which has created the greatest and most serious crisis to date has been the awards of the Boundary Commissions, a summary of which is given in appendix I.
- We got back from Karachi on the afternoon of the 14th. At twenty minutes past midnight on that night the President of the Constituent Assembly, Rajendra Prasad, and the new Prime Minister , Nehru, arrived to tell me that at the midnight session of the Constituent Assembly they had taken over power, and had endorsed the request of the leaders that I should become their first Governor General. The press had been allowed into my study to witness this historic event and after “Rajen Babu” as Rajendra Prasad is called by his friends, had delivered his message, Nehru said in ceremonious tones “May I submit to you the portfolios of the new Cabinet”. He then handed me a carefully addressed envelope, (on opening it after his departure I found it to be empty).
- The 15th August has certainly turned out to be the most remarkable and inspiring day of my life. We started at 8.30 with the Swearing-In ceremony in the Durbar Hall in front of an official audience of some 500, including a number of ruling Princes. The official guests, including Ambassadors, Princes and the Cabinet, then drove in procession from Government House (ex-Viceroy’s House) to the Council Chamber.
- Never have such crowds been seen within the memory of anyone I have spoken to. Not only did they line every rooftop and vantage point, but they pressed round so thick as to become finally quite unmanageable….
- It took us half an hour to go the short distance back, for we had to go slowly through the crowds. Once we were held up for some five minutes by the pressure of the crowds. Apart from the usual cries of “Jai Hind” and “Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai” and “Pandit Nehru ki Jai”, a surprising number shouted out “Mountbatten ki jai”.
- At 6 p.m. the great event of the day was to take place – the salutation of the new Dominion flag. This programme had originally included a ceremonial lowering of the Union Jack: but when I discussed this with Nehru he entirely agreed that this was a day they wanted everybody to be happy, and if the lowering of the Union Jack in any way offended British susceptibilities, he would certainly see that it did not take place, the more so as the Union Jack would still be flown on a dozen days a year in the Dominion.
- Meanwhile danger of a large scale accident (because of huge crowds-Ed) was becoming so great that we decided that the only thing to do was to try and move the coach on through the crowd and draw the crowd with us. For this reason I invited Nehru to stay in the coach which he did, sitting like a schoolboy on the front hood above the seats. ….Hundreds of thousands of people all running together is an impressive sight; several thousands ran the whole three miles back alongside the coach and behind it, being stopped finally by the police only at the gates of Government House.
- No British or Indian whom I have since met has ever remembered crowd scenes even approaching those that were witnessed yesterday; Indian observers all agreed that the reception which was accorded to us was no whit less enthusiastic than that accorded to their own leaders. This sounds rather incredible but it appears to be a fact and was generously referred to by Nehru in his speech last night as the best omen for the future good relations between our two countries.
- There are two other significant facts which I feel I should report. The first is that the President of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, invited me on behalf of the Assembly to send back a “loyal” message of thanks to His Majesty saying that India and Britain even if their precise future relations wee different would always be the greatest friends. The other is that at a State banquet of a hundred that night Nehru made a speech in the most friendly terms possible prior to proposing the toast of the King. I replied and proposed the Dominion of India.
- Close on 3,000 people came to our evening party at Government House and stayed till after two o’clock in the morning. At this dinner and subsequent party the Ambassadors, the new Cabinet, the senior British and Indian officers of the Services, and Ruling Princes were freely mixed. I have never experienced such a day in my life…..
Postscript telephoned from Bombay on the evening of 17 August
The departure of British troops went off extremely well amidst scenes of great enthusiasm.
Our reception in Bombay was far more remarkable than in Delhi. The local police estimated the crowd as the greatest in the history of the city. Several hundreds of thousands lined the many miles of route, often breaking through the cordon and stopping our open car through sheer weight of numbers….
The crowd definitely shouted out, England Zindabad and Jai England.
- (Extract) Secret Cabinet paper of conclusions of a meeting held at 10 Downing Street on 31 Dec 1946 – concerning the withdrawal from India.
“The general feeling of the Cabinet was that withdrawal from India need not appear to be forced upon us by our weakness nor to be the first step in the dissolution of the Empire. On the contrary this action must be shown to be the logical conclusion, which we welcomed, of a policy followed by successive Governments for many years. It was too late to reverse the whole direction of our Indian policy, even if we had had any desire to do so, and there was no reason to fear special repercussions from the completion of that policy. Our main objective now was to bring the principal communities in India to co-operate, so that there should be a properly representative authority to whom we could hand over power. If the Viceroy was correct in his estimate that we should in any case be unable to continue effectively to rule India beyond the early part of 1948, and if the announcement of our intention to leave India by a specified date might have the effect of bringing the communities together, then it would be well of derive whatever advantage we could from the early announcement of action which would, in fact, be inevitable.”
“The view was expressed that a statement in these terms would give the impression that we were being forced out of India because we were unable to maintain our position there. In fact, our withdrawal would be the final stage in a deliberate policy of encouraging India’s development towards self-government, to which successive Governments in this country had subscribed for the last thirty years. It was certainly the desire of the present Government that the Indian people should assume full responsibility of self-government. There was, therefore, no occasion to excuse our withdrawal: we should rather claim credit for taking this initiative in terminating British rule in India and transferring our responsibilities to the representatives of the Indian people. ….
“Thus independence was proclaimed. The Union Jack was hauled down. The tri-colour was hoisted.
“At last the bride was brought home, but only after she had become a prostitute ”The national leaders “sought to cheat destiny by constitutional cunning “.
(Karl Marx. “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.”)
The above lines are from chapter one of INDIA MORTGAGED by Tarimela Nagi Reddy ,pages 2-8, 1971. It narrates how transfer of power took place and it was not real independence.
(MK Adithya is a mediaperson, who often contributed to countercurrents.org )