Round Table Conferences, 1930-1932

Date: 
12 Nov 1930
Event location: 

London

About: 

In response to the inadequacy of the Simon Report, the Labour Government, which had come to power under Ramsay MacDonald in 1929, decided to hold a series of Round Table Conferences in London.

The first Round Table Conference convened from 12 November 1930 to 19 January 1931. Prior to the Conference, M. K. Gandhi had initiated the Civil Disobedience Movement on behalf of the Indian National Congress. Consequently, since many of the Congress' leaders were in jail, Congress did not participate in the first conference, but representatives from all other Indian parties and a number of Princes did. The outcomes of the first Round Table Conference were minimal: India was to develop into a federation, safeguards regarding defence and finance were agreed and other departments were to be transferred. However, little was done to implement these recommendations and civil disobedience continued in India. The British Government realized that the Indian National Congress needed to be part of deciding the future of constitutional government in India.

Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, met with Gandhi to reach a compromise. On 5 March 1931 they agreed the folowing to pave the way for the Congress' participation in the second Round Table Conference: Congress would discontinue the Civil Disobedience Movement, it would participate in the second Round Table Conference, the Government would withdraw all ordinances issued to curb the Congress, the Government would withdraw all prosecutions relating to offenses not involving violence and the Government would release all persons undergoing sentences of imprisonment for their activities in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

The second Round Table Conference was held in London from 7 September 1931 to 1 December 1931 with the participation of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. Two weeks before the Conference convened, the Labour government had been replaced by the Conservatives. At the conference, Gandhi claimed to represent all people of India. This view, however, was not shared by other delegates. In fact, the division between the many attending groups was one of the reasons why the outcomes of the second Round Table Conference were again no substantial results regarding India's constitutional future. Meanwhile, civil unrest had spread throughout India again, and upon return to India Gandhi was arrested along with other Congress leaders. A separate province of Sind was created and the interests of minorities were safeguarded by MacDonald's Communal Award.

The third Round Table Conference (17 November 1932 - 24 December 1932) was not attended by the Indian National Congress and Gandhi. Many other Indian leaders were also absent. Like the two first conferences, little was achieved. The recommendations were published in a White Paper in March 1933 and debated in Parliament afterwards. A Joint Select Committee was formed to analyse the recommendations and formulate a new Act for India. The Committee produced a draft Bill in February 1935 which was enforced as the Government of India Act of 1935 in July 1935.

Organizer: 

Labour Government

People involved: 

 R. Z. Abbasy, C. P. Ramaswami Aiyer, Sir Sultan Ahmed, B. R. Ambedkar, Rai Bahadur Pandit Amar Nath Atal, Rai Bahadur Raja Oudh Narain Bisarya, Pandit Nanak Chand, Rao Bahadur Krishnama Chari, C. Y. Chintamani, Maulvi Fazl-i-Haq, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, A. H. Ghuznavi, K. V. Godbole, Khan Bahadur Hafiz Hidayat Husain, Wajahat Hussain, Nawab Liaqat Hyat-Khan, Sir Akbar Hydari, Mohammad Iqbal, Sir Mirza Ismail, M. R. Jayakar, Sir Cowasji Jehangir, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, N. M. Joshi, Maulana Muhammad Ali Joukar, Nawab Mahdi Yar Jung, Pandit Ramachandra Kak, N. C. Kelkar, Raja of Khallicote, Sir Aga Khan,Sahibzada Mumtaz Ali Khan of Malerkotla, Nawab Hamidullah Khan of Bhopal, Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Shafaat Ahmed Khan, Mir Maqbul Mahmood, Sir Manubhai N. Mehta, Sir B. N. Mitra, B. S. Moonje, Diwan Bahadur Mudaliyar, Sarojini Naidu, Begum Shah Nawaz, K. C. Neogy, Major Pande, Rao Bahadur Pandit,  K. M. Panikkar, Sir Sukhdeo Prasad, Pandit P. N. Pathak, Rao Bahadur Sir A. P. Patro, Sir Prabhashankar Pattani, G. B. Pillai, B. I. Powar, S. Qureshi,  R. K. Ranadive, K. S. Ranjitsinhji of Nawanagar, Madhava Rao, Sayaji Rao, Raja of Sarila, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Srinivasa Sastri, C. N. Seddon, Muhammad Shafi,  Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja Ganga Singh, Maharaja Hari Singh, Sardar Ujjal Singh, Yuvaraj Shri Digvijaya Sinhji of Limbdi, Sir Nripendra Nath Sircar, R. K. Sorabji, Rao Sahib D. A. Surve, Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas, B. H. Zaidi.

R. A. Butler, Sir Hubert Carr, C. L. Corfield, J. C. C. Davidson, Sir Henry Gidney, Viscount Hailsham, C. G. Herbert, Sir Samuel Hoare, Lord Irwin, Mr. Gavin Jones, Lord Lothian, Ramsay MacDonald (Prime Minister), Lord Peel, Viscount Sankey, Sir Richard Chenevix-Trench, L. F. Rushbrook Williams, J. W. Young, Marquess of Zetland.

Published works: 

Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930 - 19th January, 1931: Proceedings of Sub-Committees (London: H. M. S. O., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930 - 19th January, 1931: Proceedings, Presented by the Secretary of State for India to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, January, 1931 (London: H. M. S. O., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930 - 19th January, 1931, Sub-Committees' Reports, Conference Resolution, and Prime Minister's Statement: Presented by the Secretary of State for India to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, January, 1931 (London: H. M. S. O., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, St. James's Palace: Delegates from the Indian States and British India (London, 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930 - 19th January, 1931: The Question of Constituting Sind as a Separate Province (Karachi: Indus Publications, 1979) 

Indian Round Table Conference: 7th September - 1st December 1931: Statement Made by the Prime Minister to the Conference at the Conclusion of Its Second Session on the 1st December 1931 (London: H. M. S. O., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, Second Session, 7th September, 1931 - 1st December, 1931: Proceedings of Federal Structire Committee and Minorities Committee (London: H. M. S. O., 1932)

The Round Table Conference: India's Demand for Dominion Status: Speeches by the King, the Premier, the British Party Leaders and the Representatives of the Princes and People of India (Madras: G. A. Natesan & Co., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference: Second Session, 7th September, 1931 - 1st December, 1931: Proceedings (London: H. M. S. O., 1932)

Indian Round Table Conference: 7th September - 1st December, 1931: Reports of Committees (London: 1932)

Indian Round Table Conference, Third Session, 17th November, 1932 - 24th December, 1932 (London: H. M. S. O., 1933)

Secondary works: 

Arora, K. C., Indian Nationalist Movement in Britain (New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 1992)

Bridge, Carl, Holding India to the Empire: The British Conservative Party and the 1935 Constitution (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1986) 

Goyal, P. K., Battle of India's Freedom Movement (Delhi: Vista International Publishing House, 2005)

Jinnah, Mohammed Ali, Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah Speeches: Round Table Conference (1930-1932), Muhammad Ali Siddiqui (ed.) (Karachi: Quaid-i-Azam Academy, 1996)