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The Simon Commission was opposed primarily because it did not have any Indian representation in the assemblage. The government of Britain had appointed this Commission in 1927. The goal of the Simon Commission was to give an account of how the Indian constitution was working. The British government wanted to determine, through the Commission’s study, whether there needed to be any amendments to the Government of India Act. This Act was originally introduced in India in 1919.
The leaders and people of India felt that this seven-member Commission did not represent them and their wishes at all. They felt that its recommendations would not address their concerns as they really had little input. The people of India wanted a Constitution created by Indians for Indians. They believed it was their inherent right to decide their future for themselves, not have an all-white Commission composed of Brits doing this for them.
So, in essence, the Simon Commission was opposed for these three reasons:
1. Lack of Indian members on the Commission.
2. The fear that the Brits would lord it over them, without giving serious thought to their interests.
3. The Indian people felt offended by the Commission. To them it was an arrogant British move that stonewalled them out of it.
The Indian Statutory Commission was formed in 1927 to gauge the progress of constitutional reform in India. It consisted of seven members and was usually referred to as the Simon Seven or the Simon Commission. All seven members of the commission were also members of the British Parliament.
Prior to this, the Government of India Act of 1919 had been formed to encourage further Indian participation in government. However, the Act set up a system of dyarchy(rule of two) to accomplish its aims, and it proved to be an unworkable system. Essentially, every province was ruled by two groups of officials: executive councillors and ministers. Above them, the governor ruled as the executive head of the province. The councillors dealt with reserved subjects such as finance and law, while the ministers dealt with transferred subjects such as education, agriculture, and health.
However, this type of government effectively sidelined the Indian ministers. Whenever disagreements arose between councillors and ministers, the British Governor would invariably side with the councillors. The Simon Commission was supposed to correct this state of affairs; however, it proved unpopular for three reasons:
1) The British eschewed Indian representation on the Commission. It made the excuse that the Commission was a Parliamentary commission and therefore, needed to be chaired by impartial and competent experts who would be able to make actionable recommendations to the British Parliament. Of course, British leaders defined "impartial" and "competent" according to their belief that Indians could not be trusted to remain neutral on any Commission.
While the British claimed that Hindu and Muslim divisions would endanger the progress of the Commission, the Indians were insulted that no native subjects were represented on a Commission meant to increase Indian participation in government. The Indian National Congress boycotted the Commission and members of the Muslim League (under Muhammad Ali Jinnah) also followed suit.
2) At this time, the average Indian citizen yearned for complete independence from the British. They wanted a self-determined India, not an India still beholden to its British oppressors. Essentially, they opposed the idea of shared power, and they resented continued British interference into local affairs. Indian citizens resented the English inclination to decide India's future based on colonial interests.
3) Last, but not least, the draconian British response to Indian concerns sparked more opposition to the Commission. On the 30th of October in 1928, things came to a head when an Indian 'hartal' or boycott demonstration against the Simon Seven was violently suppressed. Fearing further unrest, the British police had beaten back the crowds by using their lathis (sticks). Lala Lajpat Rai (the leader of the non-cooperative movement and the boycott) suffered grave injuries that led to his eventual death.
Before Lala succumbed to his injuries, he proclaimed: "The blows which fell on me today, are the last nails driven into the coffin of British imperialism." Lala's death galvanized the Indians. Essentially, the harsh British response to the demonstrations further cemented India's rejection of the Commission.
1) Freedom Fighters of India (in 4 volumes) by M.G. Agrawal.
2) The Indian Struggle (1922-1934) by Subhas Chandra Bose.
3) A Comprehensive History of India (Volume 3) by Chopra, Puri, Das, and Pradhan.
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