'An Indefensible System'
By the time of the Lucknow Pact, the mood of India was already changing. The war was dragging on longer than anyone had expected, and as the death toll mounted among the Indian volunteers, disillusionment grew. In his presidential speech at the League session, Jinnah had declared that the 'united India demand must eventually prove irresistible'. He had gone on to assure his listeners that when the war was won, 'India will have to be granted her birthright as a free, responsible and equal member of the British Empire.' But the British government was already showing signs that it did not agree with him.
There was to be an Imperial War Conference in 1917, to formulate policy both for the continuation of the war and for the peace afterwards. All the white dominions would participate as a matter of course. The Indians, who were contributing so much to the Allied cause, believed they had a right to be there, too. Hardinge pressed India's claim, which he thought was entirely just. But he was ignored by a war cabinet dominated by Curzon and Kitchener, with their bitter personal memories of India. Frustrated and weary, still suffering the after‐ effects of the 1912 bomb, and with all his efforts to liberalize the regime sabotaged by the die-hards in Delhi, Hardinge stepped down as viceroy in 1916, and returned to Britain.
Hardinge's successor as viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, did not inspire confidence. Although he was the grandson of a distinguished solicitor-general, attorney-general and ultimately lord chancellor, he had little else to recommend him. A polished but uninspiring former cavalry captain with little knowledge or understanding of India, his political career had not been distinguished. After serving as a member of the LCC, he had been governor first of Queensland and then of New South Wales, but was subsequently turned down for the governorship of Bombay. It has been suggested that the reason Prime Minister Asquith chose him to be viceroy was that he was the only fellow of All Souls in