The Partition of Bengal and Assam: Contour of Freedom

By Bidyut Chakrabarty | Go to book overview
Save to active project



The Communal Award and its implications in Bengal

The debate over the separate and joint electorates as rival modes of election to the various representative institutions by the British began with the Simla deputation of 1906 and remained controversial till 1947. Not only was the issue controversial in the pre-Independent India, it also raises debates among contemporary historians and political scientists. For John Gallagher, the Communal Award was nothing but 'a sign of [the] determination [of the British Government] to warp the Indian question towards electoral politics'. 1 While looking into the operational aspect of the Award, Anil Seal also affirmed that 'by extending the electorate, the imperial croupier had summoned more players to his table'. 2 Looking at the Award from the British point of view, both of them thus arrived at the same conclusions: (1) the Award introduced the native politicians to the sophisticated world of parliamentary politics; and (2) as a result of the new arrangement, as stipulated in the 1935 Act, politics now percolated down to the localities. The available evidence, however, does reveal that the Award and the constitutional rights guaranteed to the Indians under the Act were the price the British paid for the continuity of the Indian Empire. What thus appears to be a calculated generous gesture was very much a political expedient. The surrender of power to Indian hands, though at the regional levels, was not welcomed by some senior officers, who saw an eclipse of British authority in this endeavour. 3

Bengal was a special case because (firstly) the representatives of the British power were divided on the question of the share of the two principal religious communities, Hindus and Muslims; and (secondly) the Award shook the foundations of Hindu domination.

This chapter thus deals with the complex question of how the Award was made and the reactions of the Bengali politicians, regardless of their religion, once the electoral arrangement of the Communal Award was a settled fact.

The Communal or Macdonald Award of 1932, according to the note circulated to the Commissioners and Collectors 'by the British Government at the request of the Indians themselves', 4 was an institutional arrangement


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Partition of Bengal and Assam: Contour of Freedom


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 278

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?