Question: Assess the role of British imperial power in complicating the process of transfer of power during the 1940s.
Answer: The period of 1940s was full of turmoil both nationally and internationally with the occurrence wide-ranging events that changed the world permanently. The British imperial powers were one of the worst impacted and this had its effect in Indian independence movement too.
Role of British imperialists in complicating transfer of power
- Participation in wars
The British regularly took part in large and small wars that led to diversion in their resources. The world war II acted as a trigger to start collapse of British empire.Due to threat emancipating from Germany, British diverted their attention towards Europe and ignored Indian independence affairs.
Ex: Battle of Britain
- Economic hardships
The great depression in the 1920’s was a great setback to industrial complex of the British. They suffered from additional hardship due to World War I and were forced to take a back seat in administration of their colonies.
- Failure to control widespread rebellions
The British colonies were undergoing social and economic changes and were demanding for greater role in administration. With British ignoring their plight, widespread rebellions occurred, especially in colonial Africa. This diversion was critical in lengthening Indian independence.
- Domestic political instability
The political conditions in Britain was far from good. The labour party was sympathetic towards colonial struggles whereas the Tories were against granting independence. This lack of consensus along with domestic turmoil delayed power transfer significantly.
- Failure to provide autonomy
Indian political class wanted greater political powers that can take independent decision regarding future of administration. The British did not want to provide the powers and thus delayed the power transfer.
Thus, it is observed that British tried to delay independence deliberately in order to prevent the imminent fall of their empire. Thus the 40s turned out to be a period of instability that gave rise to new world, where British lost their glory permanently.