Round Table Conferences (India)
The three Round Table Conferences of 1930–32 were a series of conferences organized by the British Government to discuss constitutional reforms in India. They were conducted as per the recommendation by the report submitted by the Simon Commission in May 1930. Demands for swaraj, or self-rule, in India had been growing increasingly strong. By the 1930s, many British politicians believed that India needed to move towards dominion status. However, there were significant disagreements between the Indian and the British political parties that the Conferences would not resolve.
First Round Table Conference (November 1930 – January 1931)
The three British political parties were represented by sixteen delegates. There were fifty-seven political leaders from British India and sixteen delegates from the princely states. In total 89 delegates from India attended the Conference. However, the Indian National Congress, along with Indian business leaders, kept away from the conference. Many of them were in jail for their participation in Civil Disobedience Movement.
- British Representatives:
- Indian States' Representatives: Maharaja of Alwar, Maharaja of Baroda, Nawab of Bhopal, Maharaja of Bikaner, Rana of Dholpur, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja of Nawanagar, Maharaja of Patiala (Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes), Maharaja of Rewa, Chief Sahib of Sangli, Sir Prabhashankar Pattani (Bhavnagar), Manubhai Mehta (Baroda), Sardar Sahibzada Sultan Ahmed Khan (Gwalior), Akbar Hydari (Hyderabad), Mirza Ismail (Mysore), Col. Kailas Narain Haksar (Jammu and Kashmir)
- British-Indian Representatives:
- Muslims: Aga Khan III (leader of British-Indian delegation), Maulana Mohammad Ali, Muhammad Shafi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, A. K. Fazlul Huq, Hafiz Hidayat Hussain, Dr. Shafa'at Ahmad Khan, Raja Sher Muhammad Khan of Domeli, A. H. Ghuznavi
- Hindus: B. S. Moonje, M. R. Jayakar, Diwan Bahadur Raja Narendra Nath
- Liberals: J. N. Basu, Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamani, V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad
- Justice Party: Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, Bhaskarrao Vithojirao Jadhav, Sir A. P. Patro
- Depressed Classes: B. R. Ambedkar, Rettamalai Srinivasan
- Sikhs: Sardar Ujjal Singh, Sardar Sampuran Singh
- Parsis: Phiroze Sethna, Cowasji Jehangir, Homi Mody
- Indian Christians: A. T. Pannirselvam
- Europeans: Sir Hubert Carr, Sir Oscar de Glanville (Burma), T. F. Gavin Jones, C. E. Wood (Madras)
- Anglo-Indians: Henry Gidney
- Women: Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz, Radhabai Subbarayan
- Landlords: Maharaja Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga (Bihar), Muhammad Ahmad Said Khan Chhatari (United Provinces), Raja of Parlekhmundi (Orissa), Provash Chandra Mitter
- Labour: N. M. Joshi, B. Shiva Rao
- Universities: Syed Sultan Ahmed, Bisheshwar Dayal Seth,
- Burma: U Aung Thin, Ba U, M. M. Ohn Ghine
- Sindh: Shah Nawaz Bhutto, Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah
- Other Provinces: Chandradhar Barua (Assam), Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum (NWFP), S. B. Tambe (Central Provinces)
- Government of India: Narendra Nath Law, Bhupendra Nath Mitra, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, M. Ramachandra Rao
- Officials attending in consultative capacity: W. M. Hailey, C. A. Innes, A. C. MacWatters, H. G. Haig, L. W. Reynolds
- Indian States Delegation Staff:
- Hyderabad: Sir Richard Chenevix-Trench, Nawab Mahdi Yar Jung, Ahmed Hussain, Nawab Sir Amin Jung Bahadur, Sir Reginald Glancy
- South Indian States: T. Raghavaiah
- Baroda: V. T. Krishnamachari
- Orissa States: K. C. Neogy
- Nominated by the Chamber of Princes Special Organisation: L. F. Rushbrook Williams, Qazi Ali Haidar Abbasi, Jarmani Dass, A. B. Latthe, D. A. Surve
- Secretariats: S. K. Brown, V. Dawson, K. S. Fitze, W. H. Lewis, R. J. Stopford, J. Coatman, Marmaduke Pickthall, K. M. Panikkar, N. S. Subba Rao, Geoffrey Corbett, A. Latifi, Girija Shankar Bajpai
- Secretariat-General: R. H. A. Carter, Mian Abdul Aziz, W. D. Croft, G. E. J. Gent, B. G. Holdsworth, R. F. Mudie, G. S. Rajadhyaksha
The conference started with 6 plenary meetings where delegates put forward their issues. These were followed by discussions on the reports of the sub-committees on Federal Structure, Provincial Constitution, Minorities, Burma, North West Frontier Province, Franchise, Defence, Services and Sindh. These were followed by 2 more plenary meetings and a final concluding session.
The idea of an All-India Federation was moved to the centre of discussion. All the groups attending the conference supported this concept. The responsibility of the executive to the legislature was discussed, and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar demanded a separate electorate for the so-called Untouchables.
It was difficult for progress to be made in the absence of Congress (Indian National Congress) but some advances were made. The princes declared they would join future federation of India as long as their rights were recognized and the British agreed that representative government should be introduced on provincial level.
Second Round Table Conference (September – December 1931)
The second session opened on September 7, 1931. There were three major differences between the first and second Round Table Conferences. By the second:
- Congress Representation — The Gandhi-Irwin Pact opened the way for Congress participation in this conference. Mahatma Gandhi was invited from India and attended as the sole official Congress representative accompanied by Sarojini Naidu and also Madan Mohan Malaviya, Ghanshyam Das Birla, Muhammad Iqbal, Sir Mirza Ismail (Diwan of Mysore), S.K. Dutta and Sir Syed Ali Imam. Gandhi claimed that the Congress alone represented political India; that the Untouchables were Hindus and should not be treated as a “minority”; and that there should be no separate electorates or special safeguards for Muslims or other minorities. These claims were rejected by the other Indian participants. According to this pact, Gandhi was asked to call off the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and if he did so the prisoners of the British government would be freed excepting the criminal prisoners, i.e. those who had killed British officials. He returned to India, disappointed with the results and empty-handed.
- National Government — two weeks earlier the Labour government in London had fallen. Ramsay MacDonald now headed a National Government dominated by the Conservative Party.
- Financial Crisis – During the conference, Britain went off the Gold Standard further distracting the National Government.
During the Conference, Gandhi could not reach agreement with the Muslims on Muslim representation and safeguards. At the end of the conference Ramsay MacDonald undertook to produce a Communal Award for minority representation, with the provision that any free agreement between the parties could be substituted for his award.
Gandhi took particular exception to the treatment of untouchables as a minority separate from the rest of the Hindu community. He clashed with the leader of depressed classes, Dr.B. R. Ambedkar, over this issue: the two eventually resolved the situation with the Poona Pact of 1932.
- British Representatives:
- Labour: Ramsay Macdonald, Wedgwood Benn, Arthur Henderson, William Jowitt, Hastings Lees-Smith, F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, Lord Sankey, Lord Snell, J. H. Thomas
- Conservative: Viscount Hailsham, Samuel Hoare, Earl Peel, Oliver Stanley, Marquess of Zetland
- Scottish Unionist: Walter Elliot
- Liberal: Isaac Foot, Henry Graham White, Robert Hamilton, Marquess of Lothian, Marquess of Reading,
- Indian States' Representatives: Maharaja of Alwar, Maharaja of Baroda, Nawab of Bhopal, Maharaja of Bikaner, Maharao of Cutch, Rana of Dholpur, Maharaja of Indore, Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja of Kapurthala, Maharaja of Nawanagar, Maharaja of Patiala, Maharaja of Rewa, Chief Sahib of Sangli, Raja of Korea, Raja of Sarila, Sir Prabhashankar Pattani (Bhavnagar), Manubhai Mehta (Baroda), Sardar Sahibzada Sultan Ahmed Khan (Gwalior), Sir Muhammad Akbar Hydari (Hyderabad), Mirza Ismail (Mysore), Col. K.N. Haksar (Jammu and Kashmir), T. Raghavaiah (Travancore), Liaqat Hayat Khan (Patiala)
- British-Indian Representatives: Aga Khan III, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, Syed Ali Imam, Maulana Shaukat Ali, B. R. Ambedkar, Chandradhar Barua, J. N. Basu, E. C. Benthall, Shah Nawaz Bhutto, Ghanshyam Das Birla, Raja of Bobbili, Sir Hubert Carr, C. Y. Chintamani, Muhammad Ahmad Said Khan Chhatari, Maneckji Dadabhoy, Maulvi Muhammad Shafi Daudi, Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga, Surendra Kumar Datta, Raja Sher Muhammad Khan of Domeli, A. K. Fazlul Huq, Mahatma Gandhi, A. H. Ghuznavi, Henry Gidney, Sir Padamji Ginwala, V. V. Giri, Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah, Hafiz Hidayat Hussain, Muhammad Iqbal, A. Rangaswami Iyengar, Bhaskarrao Vithojirao Jadhav, Jamal Muhammad, M. R. Jayakar, Cowasji Jehangir, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, T. F. Gavin Jones, N. M. Joshi, Narendra Nath Law, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Nawab Sahibzada Sayed Muhammad Mehr Shah, Sir Provash Chandra Mitter, Homi Mody, B. S. Moonje, Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, Sarojini Naidu, Diwan Bahadur Raja Narendra Nath, Sayed Muhammad Padshah Saheb Bahadur, A. T. Pannirselvam, Raja of Parlakimedi, Sir A. P. Patro, Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum, M. Ramachandra Rao, B. Shiva Rao, Syed Sultan Ahmed, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Muhammad Shafi, Sardar Sampuran Singh, V. S. Srinivasa Sastri, Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad, Bisheshwar Dayal Seth, Phiroze Sethna, Dr. Shafa'at Ahmad Khan, Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz, Rettamalai Srinivasan, Radhabai Subbarayan, S. B. Tambe, Purshotamdas Thakurdas, Sardar Ujjal Singh, C. E. Wood, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan
- Indian States Delegation Staff: V. T. Krishnamachari (Baroda), Richard Chenevix-Trench (Hyderabad), Nawab Mahdi Yar Jung (Hyderabad), S. M. Bapna (Indore), Amar Nath Atal (Jaipur), J. W. Young (Jodhpur), Ram Chandra Kak (Jammu and Kashmir), Sahibzada Abdus Samad Khan (Rampur), K. C. Neogy (Orissa states), L. F. Rushbrook Williams, Jarmani Dass, Muhammad Saleh Akbar Hydari, K. M. Panikkar, N. Madhava Rao
- British Delegation Staff: H. G. Haig, V. Dawson, K. S. Fitze, J. G. Laithwaite, W. H. Lewis, P. J. Patrick, J. Coatman, G. T. Garratt, R. J. Stopford
- British Indian Delegation Staff: Geoffrey Corbett, A. Latifi, Girija Shankar Bajpai, Benegal Rama Rau, Syed Amjad Ali, Prince Aly Khan, A. M. Chaudhury, Mahadev Desai, Govind Malaviya, K. T. Shah, P. Sinha
- Secretariat-General: R. H. A. Carter, K. Anderson, C. D. Deshmukh, J. M. Sladen, Hugh MacGregor, G. F. Steward, A. H. Joyce, Syed Amjad Ali, Ram Babu Saksena
Third Round Table Conference (November – December 1932)
The third and last session assembled on November 17, 1932. Only forty-six delegates attended since most of the main political figures of India were not present. The Labour Party from Britain and the Indian National Congress refused to attend.
- Indian States' Representatives: Akbar Hydari (Dewan of Hyderabad), Mirza Ismail (Dewan of Mysore), V. T. Krishnamachari (Dewan of Baroda), Wajahat Hussain (Jammu and Kashmir), Sir Sukhdeo Prasad (Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur), J. A. Surve (Kolhapur), Raja Oudh Narain Bisarya (Bhopal), Manubhai Mehta (Bikaner), Nawab Liaqat Hayat Khan (Patiala), Fateh Naseeb Khan (Alwar State), L. F. Rushbrook Williams (Nawanagar), Raja of Sarila (small states)
- British-Indian Representatives: Aga Khan III, B. R. Ambedkar (Depressed Classes), Ramakrishna Ranga Rao of Bobbili, Sir Hubert Carr (Europeans), Nanak Chand Pandit, A. H. Ghuznavi, Henry Gidney (Anglo-Indians), Hafiz Hidayat Hussain, Muhammad Iqbal, M. R. Jayakar, Cowasji Jehangir, N. M. Joshi (Labour), Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar, Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz (Women), A. P. Patro, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Dr. Shafa'at Ahmad Khan, Sir Shadi Lal, Tara Singh Malhotra, Sir Nripendra Nath Sircar, Sir Purshottamdas Thakurdas, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan
- Indian Round Table Conference Proceedings. Government of India. 1931.
- Indian Round Table Conference (Second Session) Proceedings of the Plenary Sessions. 1932.
- Menon, V. P. (1995). "Integration of the Indian States",'Orient Longman Ltd'
- Essay on Indian Constitutional Round Table Conferences, London 1931–1933[dubious ]