Simon Commission

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Simon Commission

India conducts competitive UPSC Exams to recruit efficient administrators and civil servants in the country. It is considered one of the toughest exams in India which are taken by candidates willing to serve the nation. One of the major topics of the UPSC syllabus is Modern History. One of the controversial concepts in History is the Simon Commission which can help you answer most of the history questions for UPSC & SSC Exams. Through this blog, we are going to list NCERT notes and important points related to the Simon Commission. 

About Simon Commission

The Indian Statutory Commission, also known as Simon Commission, was a group of 7 Members of Parliament led by Sir John Simon (later, 1st Viscount Simon). The commission arrived in British India in 1928 to study constitutional reforms in Britain’s largest and most important possession. The Simon Commission was named after its Chairman, Sir John Simon.

It was under the leadership of Sir John Simon that an English-based group visiting India created ripple effects on the ground. As a result, the Simon Commission faced strong reactions from noted politicians like Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi, Jinnah, the Muslim League, and Indian National Congress as they were not taken into confidence while formulating the report. 

John Simon
Courtesy: National Portrait Gallery

Members of the Simon Commission

  • Sir John Simon, MP for Spen Valley (Chairman)
  • Clement Atlee, MP for Limehouse (Labour)
  • Harry Levy-Lawson, 1st Viscount Burnham
  • Edward Cadogan, MP for Finchley (Conservative)
  • George Lane-Fox, MP for Barkston Ash (Conservative)
  • Vernon Hartshorn, MP for Ogmore (Labour)
  • Donald Howard, 3rd Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal 

Key Highlights of the Simon Commission (Background) for UPSC

Now that you have a clear understanding of the Simon Commission, let’s take a look at the main highlights which are basically its expansion:

  • The British Government introduced Diarchy under the Government of India Act 1919 to appoint working commission to review the overall progress in India after 10 years.
  • There were strong reactions against the Diarchy based government. Even political leaders and Indian masses were up in the arms against the reform. 
  • The Indian leaders felt insulted and wronged when no Indian leader was considered why making the reform. 
  • Lord Birkenhead was responsible for formulating the Simon Commission and
  • Clement Atlee, one of the core members, was the key person as Briitish Prime Minister at the time of India’s partition in 1947. There was no Indian control and all the important power was in the hands of British. Therefore, India took this commission as a core insult and blot on Indian masses. 
  • Simon Commission took place when the Indian National movement was at a standstill and directionless. They boycotted the commission in the year 1927 in Madras. Jinnah’s Muslim league followed the suit.  
  • Certain factions and the Justice party of the South supported the commission. 
  • Finally in the year 1928, amid mass demonstrations and uproar, Simon Commission landed in India. Additionally, people resorted to slogans “Go Simon Go” and “Go Back Simon
  • Lala Lajpatrai protested against the commission in Lahore (now in Pakistan) but he was brutally beaten by the British forces. 

Also Read:

Boycotting Simon Commission with ‘Simon Go Back’

Simon Commission
  • The omission of Indians from the Commission angered Indians.
  • In Madras in 1927, the Congress Party chose to boycott the Commission.
  • Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League also strongly protested it but a group of members led by Muhammad Shafi supported the administration.
  • The famous slogan Simon Go Back was first said by ‘Lala Lajpat Rai’. Several protests took place when they entered India in February 1928 and Lala Lajpat Rai moved a resolution against the Commission in the Legislative Assembly of Punjab that month.
  • Gandhiji was not in support of the Commission as he believed that someone outside India could not judge the condition of India. 
  • The Congress Party and Muslim League boycotted the Commission. However, The Justice Party in the South supported the Government.
  •  People in protests were chanting the slogan ‘Simon Go Back’. In October 1928, when the Commission arrived in Lahore (now in Pakistan), a protest led by Lala Lajpat Rai waved black flags against the Commission. 
  • The local police began to beat the protestors and one of the white police officers brutally hit Lala Lajpat Rai on his chest with a Lathi who died.
  • Moreover, Dr. B R Ambedkar presented a report on the education of the oppressed sections in the Bombay Presidency on behalf of the Bahishkrita Hitakarini Sabha.

Protests and Death of Lala Lajpat Rai in Simon Commission

In January 1928, the Simon Commission left England. When they arrived in Bombay on February 4th, 1928, a large crowd of protesters confronted them. Also, a strike began and the crowd turned out to greet the Simon Commission with black flags. Similar protests also occurred in the various smaller cities of India and one of them turned out to be dangerous. 

Even when the Simon Commission arrived in Lahore in October 1928, a large group of Indians waived black flags in protest. It was led by the revolutionary Lala Lajpat Rai. He had also moved the resolution against the Simon Commission in the Legislative Assembly of the Punjab city in February 1928. Protests took a sudden violent change and the local police began beating the public. As a result, the British forces captured Lala Lajpatrai, the centre of protest in Lahore, critically injuring him. Hence, he died a fortnight later.

Simon Commission Recommendations

The main recommendations of this commission were; 

  • The Diarchy system of administration replaced by representative governments in provinces.
  • The separate electorates remain until communal violence and tension die down. 
  • Governor held discretionary powers to maintain communal hatred, rift and internet security. 
  • It was recommended that the number of members of the Legislative council should be increased. 
  • The reforms equally suggested that the Commission were incorporated into the Government of India Act 1935
  • In order to have complete control over the high court, the Government of India should have complete control. 
  • In the year 1937, the first provincial-based elections were held which saw a wave of Congress making inroads in every province, for instance.

Also Read:

Impacts and Objectives of the Simon Commission UPSC

Credit: Constructing Minds

Now that you have understood the general information, let’s move a step closer to its impacts and objectives:

  • The Indian National Congress had no direction after the Simon Commission.
  • Its main objective was to widen the communal feelings in order to break the country’s social fabric. 
  • It wanted to delay the process of providing the powers of governance to Indians. 
  • They were trying to propagate and endorse the regional movement which could automatically wipe off the national movements in the country

Aftermath of Simon Commission

Other than the many recommendations, they soon realized that the educated sector of India was not accepting of the changes completely so they suggested a few changes for the betterment of Indians as well.

The Commission resulted in the Government of India Act 1935, which called a  “responsible” government at the provincial level in India but not at the national level—that is a government responsible to the Indian community rather than London. As a result, Congress governments won the first provincial elections in several provinces in 1937.

The commission finally published its two-volume report in May 1930. Here are some of the crucial features of this report: 

  • It proposed the abolition of dyarchy
  • Establishment of  representative government in the provinces
  • A recommendation for separate communal electorates only until tension between Hindus and Muslims died down.

Also Read: Simon Commission in Hindi

Ahead of this, Motilal Nehru shared his Nehru Report to counter its charges that Indians could not find a constitutional consensus among themselves. Understanding that educated India was rejecting the commission and communal hatred only increased, they decided to keep the Indian opinion into account.

Also Read: Simon Commission in Hindi

Important Questions on Simon Commission for UPSC

Simon Commission is an important part of history and courses. Here are some of the important questions and answers you should know about it:

Why was Simon Commission rejected in India?

The Simon Commission was boycotted because Indians were excluded from the commission and had no representation in the assemblage. It was supposed to give an account of how the Indian Constitution was working and no Indian was involved in the process.

What was Simon Commission?

The Simon Commission was a group of seven parliamentarians who had to conduct an extensive study on constitutional reforms in order to make recommendations to the then ruling government.

When did Simon Commission come to India?

The Indian Statutory Commission, known colloquially as the Simon Commission after its chairman Sir John Allsebrook Simon, was dispatched to India in 1928 (February – March, and October 1928 – April 1929) to investigate prospective constitutional reforms.

Who headed the Simon Commission?

Simon Commission was headed by Sir John Simon, MP for Spen Valley. Hence, the name was Simon Commission

What was the main problem of the Simon Commission?

The Simon Panel was unable to establish a constitution in India because there were no Indian citizens on the commission. The primary issue with the Simon Commission was that there was no Indian presence on the board.

Who said Simon go back?

Yusuf Meherally, the mayor of Bombay and a lesser-known hero of India’s freedom fight, said both the “Quit India” and “Simon Go Back” chants for the first time.

Hope this concept on the Simon Commission is clear to write for the competitive exams like UPSC. For any query related to courses, careers, admissions, and universities abroad, reach out to Leverage Edu by booking a free counselling session!

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