Quit India Movement

Arora IAS Class Notes


  • Gandhi drafted a resolution for British withdrawal and nonviolent non-cooperation in case of a Japanese invasion after Cripps’ departure.
  • The resolution was accepted at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Wardha on July 14, 1942.
  • Gandhi was given command of the movement at the Wardha meeting.

Resolution and Launch:

  • Ratification of the ‘Quit India’ resolution at the All India Congress Committee meeting in Bombay in August.
  • Movement commenced at Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai, known as August Kranti Maidan.
  • Slogans: “Quit India” and “Bharat Chodo.” Gandhi’s mantra: “Do or die.”

Resolution Details:

  • August 8, 1942: Congress meeting ratified the Quit India Resolution at Gowalia Tank, Bombay.
  • Demands immediate end to British rule, commitment to defend against Fascism and imperialism, formation of provisional Government of India, and sanction of civil disobedience.

Gandhi’s Instructions:

  • Government employees: Pledge allegiance to INC instead of resigning.
  • Soldiers: Stay with the army but refrain from firing on comrades.
  • Landlords/Zamindars: Pay rent if anti-government; abstain if pro-government.
  • Students: Can leave studies if confident.
  • Princes and people of princely states: Stand behind people, support monarch if anti-government, declare as Indian citizens.

Reasons for Movement:

  • Japanese threat on India’s north-eastern frontiers.
  • British abandonment of Southeast Asian colonies.
  • Belief that British withdrawal would deter Japanese invasion.
  • Frustration over British wartime hardships and defeats.
  • Response to failure of Cripps Mission to address India’s issues.


Nature of the Quit India Movement (August 1942)


Shift from Non-Violence:

  • Unlike previous Civil Disobedience Movements (NCM & CDM), Quit India aimed for a massive uprising from the start.
  • Gandhi, frustrated by British actions and Indian sentiment, sanctioned violence in self-defense.
  • Focus shifted towards achieving freedom (ends) by any means (methods).

Clear Goal and Objectives:

  • Demanded complete British withdrawal from India.
  • Accommodated violence against the state.
  • Involved anyone seeking independence, not just trained activists.
  • Empowered students to lead after senior leader arrests.
  • Advocated total defiance of government authority.

Leaderless Movement and Grassroots Action:

  • Leader arrests led to a more radical, “un-Gandhian” phase.
  • Gandhi’s prior endorsement of violence and youth leadership fueled this shift.
  • Movement developed organically at the local level.

Underground Activities:

  • Aimed to maintain morale, establish command, distribute arms, and guide the movement.
  • Key figures: Rammanohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Aruna Asaf Ali (established an underground radio station in Bombay).

Parallel Governments:

  • Established in some parts of India.


Phases of Quit India Movement

First Phase: Rampage by Public

  • Public attacked authority symbols, hoisted national flags on public buildings.
  • Satyagrahis surrendered to arrest, bridges blown up, railway tracks removed, telegraph lines severed.
  • Most prevalent in eastern United Provinces and Bihar.
  • Students struck in schools, colleges, distributed illegal news sheets, acted as couriers.
  • Strikes in Ahmedabad, Bombay, Jamshedpur, Ahmednagar, Poona.

Second Phase: Underground Activities

  • Nationalists engaged in subversive activities, fled underground.
  • Involvement of socialists, Forward Bloc members, Gandhi ashramites, revolutionary nationalists, local organizations.
  • Key figures: Rammanohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, Aruna Asaf Ali, Usha Mehta, Biju Patnaik, among others.
  • Usha Mehta founded underground radio station in Bombay.
  • Aimed to maintain popular morale, provide command, guidance, distribution of arms.

Third Phase: Parallel Governments

  • Establishment of parallel governments in Ballia, Tamluk, Satara.
  • Ballia: Led by Chittu Pandey, secured release of Congress members.
  • Tamluk: Jatiya Sarkar focused on relief, education, distribution of resources.
  • Satara: Organized by leaders like Y.B. Chavan, Nana Patil, implemented various social reforms.
  • Active assistance from businessmen, students, villagers, pilots, train drivers, government officials.


Regional Participation in the Quit India Movement (August 1942)

Strong Participation:

  • Bihar:
    • Students, workers, peasants actively involved.
    • Underground activities led by Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia.
    • Parallel government formed near Nepal border (until 1944).
    • Socialist group Azad Dastas carried out underground activities.
  • Uttar Pradesh:
    • Armed villagers targeted police and courts.
    • Strikes in Kanpur, Lucknow, Nagpur.

Urban Focus:

  • Bengal:
    • Protests, sabotage, damage to infrastructure in towns and cities.
    • Worker, tribal, peasant movements gained momentum.

Western India:

  • Maharashtra & Gujarat:
    • Peasant guerilla attacks on government property and collaborators.
    • “Azad Government” parallel government established in Ahmedabad.
    • Bombay inspired by underground publications.

South India:

  • Bangalore:T. Bhashyam led trade union strikes.

Social Base of the Movement:

  • Students:Played a significant role, especially in Bihar and eastern UP.
  • Workers:Involved in strikes across the country.
  • Peasants:Limited participation, but more active in Bihar and eastern UP.
  • Tribals:Participated in Bengal and Orissa.
  • Government Officials:Lower-ranked police and administration joined, decreasing government loyalty. Some passed information to activists.
  • Women:Actively participated in protests, strikes, and community mobilization.


Impact of the Quit India Movement (August 1942)

Crackdown and Leadership Shift:

  • British arrested prominent Congress leaders including Gandhi, Nehru, Patel. (around 100,000 detained in total)
  • New leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia emerged.
  • Aruna Asaf Ali became a prominent figure.

Popular Reaction and Violence:

  • Unrest led to violence and property damage due to lack of central leadership.
  • Government used force (mass floggings, lathi charges) – around 10,000 killed.
  • Women and children were not spared.

Opposition to the Movement:

  • Muslim League (Jinnah): Wanted a separate Muslim nation before British leave.
  • Communist Party of India: Supported British war effort due to alliance with USSR.
  • Indian bureaucracy opposed the movement.
  • C Rajagopalachari (Congress member) resigned due to disagreement with complete independence.

Support and Spread:

  • Strikes and demonstrations across the country.
  • Workers (especially in factories) supported the movement.
  • Movement concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Midnapore, Karnataka (lasted until 1944).


  • People from all walks of life participated (students, workers, peasants).
  • Showed deep-rooted nationalism and the need for Indian consent in governance.
  • Forced the British to seriously consider Indian independence.
  • Paved the way for negotiations and eventual independence in 1947.
  • Put the demand for immediate independence at the forefront of the freedom struggle.

Limitations of the Quit India Movement (August 1942)

Failed Objectives:

  • Did not achieve immediate independence (further struggle and negotiations needed).

Leadership and Coordination:

  • Lack of central leadership led to confusion and fragmentation.


  • Muslim League (Jinnah):Wanted separate nation before British leave.
  • Communist Party of India:Supported British war effort due to alliance with USSR.
  • Indian Bureaucracy:Opposed the movement.
  • R. Ambedkar & Periyar:Also against the movement.

Communal Divide:

  • Lower Muslim participation compared to previous movements (Jinnah urged Muslims to join British army).
  • Strengthened Muslim League’s demand for a separate state (contributed to Partition).
  • Some instances of communal violence during the movement.

Limited Focus by Historians:

  • Due to the absence of major political parties and leaders in central roles.

Bengal Famine of 1943

  • Affected Regions & Casualties
    • Worst Hit: South-west Bengal (Tamluk, Contai, Diamond Harbour), Dacca, Faridpur, Tippera, Noakhali.
    • Estimated Deaths: 1.5 – 3 million people.
    • Causes:
      • Food diversion for wartime British army.
      • Halt in rice imports from Burma & Southeast Asia.
      • Mismanagement, profiteering, delayed rationing.

Rajagopalachari Formula (1944)

  • Content
    • Proposed by C. Rajagopalachari.
    • Tacit acceptance of Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan.
    • Key Points:
      • Muslim League support for Congress’ demand for independence.
      • Cooperation in forming a central provisional government.
      • Plebiscite in Muslim-majority areas to decide on a separate state (post-war).
      • Agreements on defense, commerce if partition occurs.
      • Conditional on full power transfer from England to India.
    • Objections
      • Jinnah’s Demands:
        • Congress accept two-nation theory.
        • Limited voting in plebiscite.
        • Opposition to a common center.
      • Differing Goals:
        • Congress – United India’s independence.
        • League – Sole focus on separate Muslim nation.
      • Hindu Opposition: Led by Vir Savarkar, condemned the CR Formula.

Efforts to Resolve the Deadlock (1944-1945)

Desai-Liaqat Pact (1944)

  • Leaders involved: Bhulabhai Desai (Congress) & Liaqat Ali Khan (Muslim League)
  • Proposed an interim government with:
    • Equal number of seats from Congress & League in central legislature.
    • 20% reserved seats for minorities.
  • Significance: Established a concept of parity between Congress & League (not implemented).


Wavell Plan (1945)


  • British Motivation:
    • Upcoming UK election (1945) – Wanted to appear proactive on Indian solution.
    • Pressure from Allies for continued Indian cooperation in WW2.
    • Divert Indian energy towards British interests.
  • Viceroy Wavell’s Role:
    • Released Congress leaders in June 1945.
    • Convened Shimla Conference (June 1945) to negotiate with Indian leaders.

The Plan:

  • Reconstruct Governor-General’s Executive Council (interim government).
  • All members (except Governor-General & Commander-in-Chief) to be Indian.
  • Equal representation for caste Hindus & Muslims.
  • Function within 1935 Act (not responsible to Central Assembly).
  • Governor-General retains veto power.
  • Parties submit joint list for nominations, or separate lists if no agreement.
  • Negotiations for a new constitution after the war.


  • Muslim League:
    • Demanded all Muslim members be League nominees (feared marginalization by other minorities).
    • Wanted a “veto” – decisions needing a two-thirds majority for approval if opposed by Muslims.
  • Congress:
    • Objected to being seen as a “caste Hindu” party.
    • Demanded right to nominate members from all communities.
  • Wavell’s Mistake:
    • Announced breakdown of talks, giving League a de facto veto.
    • Strengthened League’s position and boosted Jinnah’s influence.

Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army (INA)

Subhas Chandra Bose: A Revolutionary Path

  • Early Life & Activism:
    • Passed Indian Civil Services exam (1920s).
    • Resigned to join freedom struggle (1921).
    • Became Mayor of Calcutta (1923).
    • Disagreed with Gandhi’s methods, sought a more militant approach.
  • Parting Ways with Congress:
    • Formed Forward Bloc (1939) advocating for complete independence.
    • Launched “Anti-Compromise Conference” (1940) opposing British war efforts.
  • Escape and International Support:
    • Escaped house arrest in 1941.
    • Sought help from Russia (unsuccessful due to WW2 alliance).
    • Reached Germany, formed “Free India Centre” and “Azad Hind Fauj” (INA) with POWs.
  • Leadership of the INA:
    • Moved to Southeast Asia in 1943.
    • Took command of INA from Rashbehari Bose in Singapore.
    • Led INA in fight against British forces alongside Japan.
    • Became known as “Netaji” (respected leader) and gave the slogan “Jai Hind” (Victory to India).

Indian National Army (INA): Origins and First Phase (1942-1943)

Mohan Singh and the First Attempt (1942)

  • Idea & Support:
    • Mohan Singh, an Indian POW officer, conceived the INA with Japanese help.
    • Japanese encouraged anti-British Indian organizations among civilians.
  • Recruitment & Goal:
    • POWs recruited to form an INA (Indian National Army).
    • Goal – Act only on invitation from Indian National Congress and Indian people.
    • Seen as a check on Japanese misconduct and potential occupation.
  • Initial Growth (1942):
    • Quit India Movement boosted INA’s appeal.
    • 1st INA division formed in September 1942 with 16,300 soldiers.

Friction with Japan and Leadership Change

  • Japanese Objective:Desired a small, symbolic INA force (2,000 troops).
  • Mohan Singh’s Vision:Advocated for a much larger INA.
  • Disagreements & Outcome:
    • Disagreements over INA’s role led to Mohan Singh’s detainment by the Japanese.
    • Subhas Chandra Bose’s arrival in Southeast Asia marked the INA’s second phase.

Role of Rashbehari Bose (1915-1943):

  • Fled to Japan (1915):Following failed revolutionary activities in India.
  • Efforts in Japan:
    • Became a Japanese citizen.
    • Founded Indian Club of Tokyo, advocated against Western imperialism.
    • Instrumental in getting Japan interested in Indian independence.
  • Indian Independence League & INA Leadership:
    • Founded the Indian Independence League in Tokyo (1942).
    • Became the INA’s leader after a conference in Bangkok (1943).

Subhas Chandra Bose Takes Charge (1943)

  • Arrival & Negotiations:
    • Reached Tokyo under a pseudonym (Abid Hussain) in June 1943.
    • Met Japanese Prime Minister Tojo.
  • Leadership Transition:
    • Took control of the INA and Indian Independence League from Rashbehari Bose (July 1943).
    • Built upon Rashbehari Bose’s groundwork.
  • Key Developments under Bose:
    • Became INA’s Supreme Commander on August 25, 1943.
    • Formed the Provisional Government of Free India (October 21, 1943).
    • Established the Azad Hind Radio.
    • Formed the Rani Jhansi Regiment, an all-women’s unit.
    • Shifted INA headquarters to Rangoon (Burma) in January 1944.
    • Provisional Government declared war on Britain and the US (recognized by Axis powers).
    • Andaman and Nicobar Islands handed over to INA by Japan (renamed Shahid Dweep and Swaraj Dweep).
    • Addressed Mahatma Gandhi as “Father of the Nation” on Azad Hind Radio (July 6, 1944).

Military Campaigns and Challenges (1943-1944)

  • First INA Troops on Indian Soil (March 18, 1944):Crossed the Burma border.
  • Advance and Setbacks:
    • INA units reached Kohima and Imphal.
    • Faced discrimination from the Japanese (rations, arms, menial tasks).
    • Forced retreat after Allied advances (July 18, 1944).

End of the First Phase (1945):

  • Japanese Surrender (August 15, 1945):Sealed INA’s fate.
  • Subhas Chandra Bose’s Disappearance:Reportedly died in a plane crash on August 18, 1945 (Taipei).
  • INA POWs and the Rise of Support:Court-martialled after the war, sparking a movement in their defense.

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