Critically Evaluate the three Round Table Conferences?
- The three Round Table Conferences (RTC) of 1930-32 were a series of conferences organised by the British Government to discuss constitutional reforms in India. They were conducted as per the recommendations in the report submitted by the Simon Commission in May 1930.
- The First RTC was the first ever conference arranged between the British and the Indian as equals thus signifying the growing pressure of the Indian agitations in the form of Swadeshi Movement, NonCooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement. It was also a symbolic recognition of Indians as stakeholders in the decision-making process to decide upon constitutional reforms.
- However, the First RTC wasn’t too fruitful as the Congress, the largest political group, had boycotted the Conference because the Viceroy Lord Irwin refused to provide assurance that the purpose of the round table conference was to draft a constitutional scheme for dominion status.
- To have the Congress attend the Second RTC, a settlement was brokered between the British Indian Government and the Congress, known as the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. However, the National Government in Britain, being dominated by the Conservatives, was not willing to concede much. Also, the other Indian participants rejected Gandhiji’s claims that the Congress alone represented political India, and that the “Untouchables” were Hindus. The Second RTC ended with MacDonald announcing a Communal Award. Gandhiji came back empty-handed.
- The Third RTC was boycotted by both the Congress and the Labour Party, defying the whole purpose. Again, like in the two previous conferences, little was achieved. The recommendations were published in a White Paper in March 1933. This became the basis for the Government of India Act, 1935.
- Overall, the three RTCs neither led to Independence nor to Dominion Status, and rather brought forward the unwillingness of the British government to introduce genuine reforms.