First Round Table Conference (November 1930-January 1931)

The First Round Table Conference (November 1930-January 1931) was held in London. After the launch of civil disobedience movement by INC under the leadership of Gandhi and after his arrest there was widespread mass demonstrations and protests against the British. Therefore the British government felt the need to initiate talks with Indian leaders. Three round table conferences were held between 1930 to 1932 as per the report submitted by the Simon Commission in May 1930.

Aim of first round table conference

The major aim of first round table conference was to pacify the increasing tides of nationalism in India under the leadership of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. The INC had launched Civil Disobedience movement which had alarmed various sections of British political leadership and therefore they felt the need to initiate talks with Indians. The other aim of first round table conference was to discuss about the constitutional reforms as per the report of the Simon Commission which was set up earlier by the British Government. One more aim of first round table conference was to create division between Indians by using the policy of divide and rule.

First round table conference held in 1930

First round table conference held in 1930 was inaugurated by King George V on November 12, 1930 in London. The conference was chaired by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald. Sixteen delegates representing the three political parties of Britain participated in the conference. From India, 58 political leaders and 16 members are representing the princely states participated in the conference. However, the leaders of Indian National Congress and business leaders did not participate in the first Round table conference.

The Main leaders from India who participated in the conference were

Muslim League: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mohammed Shafi, Aga Khan

Hindu Mahasabha: B.S Monjee and M.R.Jayakar

Depressed classes: Dr BR Ambedkar, Rettamalai Srinivasan

Sikhs: Sardar Ujjal Singh

Discussions in the conference

Nine sub committees were set up to discuss the issues of Federal and provincial structure of government Ministries, Defence, North West Frontier Province, Burma, Franchise, Executive responsibility to the legislature etc. Except for the minority committee, the working of other committees went smoothly. The issue of rights of minorities was a matter where there was a lack of consensus. There was consensus on the idea of all India Federation, the idea of which was moved for discussion by Tej Bahadur Sapru. The idea of all India Federation was supported by all the groups who attended the First Round Table Conference.

The First Round Table conference held in 1930, ended on 19th January 1931. The principal on reforms that were agreed upon were hardly implemented. Also, the Congress party leaders carried on the civil disobedience movement during this period. After the conference, the Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay MacDonald had expressed his hope about the participation of Indian National Congress in the Second Round Table Conference.

The First Round Table conference viceroy was Lord Irwin. After the end of first Round table conference, Tej Bahadur Sapru, C.Y. Chintamani and Srinivas Shastri appealed and tried to persuade Mahatma Gandhi to talk with the Viceroy Lord Irwin. The British Indian government released the political leaders of Congress to make a favourable environment for the talks between Gandhi and Lord Irwin.

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