What was the August Declaration of 1917? 

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August Declaration

On August 20, 1917, Edwin Samuel Montagu who was the then Secretary of State for India, made a popular statement in the British House of Commons. It later came to be known as the August Declaration of 1917 or the Montagu Declaration. According to this controversial statement, complete control over the Indian country will be gradually transferred to Indian people. But this was not it. In this blog, we will unravel the features of the August Declaration, its historical background, its outcome, and more. Let’s get started with learning. 

Historical Background of the August Declaration

Before digging deeper into the topic, let us first explore the history of this Declaration.

  • Events such as the First World War and the increasing revolutionary activities made British officials aware of the need to adopt a more pacifying attitude towards Indians.
  • During a debate held in the House of Commons on July 12, 1917, Edwin Montagu made derogatory remarks on the prevailing governing system of India. 
  • Over the years, Edwin Montagu became the Secretary of the State of India and shared deep sympathy for the upliftment of Indian people. 
  • Rather than taking the side of the British government, Montagu insisted that Indians should have a greater say in how their government should run.

Also Read: What was the Charter Act of 1853? 

What were the Objectives of the August Declaration? 

The primary objectives of the August Declaration are as follows:

  • To implement new reforms that would give Indians more representation in the political domain of their country.
  • To transfer the entire control of India into the hands of its people. Many people believe that this was the result of the Lucknow Pact’s Hindu-Muslim unity.
  • To increase active Indian participation in administration. 
Edwin Samuel Montagu

What was the Outcome of the August Declaration?

Here are the outcomes of the Montague Declaration:

  • Introduction of dyarchy: Dyarchy was introduced in India with an aim to increase accountability in certain areas of governance.
  • Limited transfer of power: Since the British government had no such intention to give Indian people complete authority over their country, they agreed to limited power transfer.
  • Legitimization of nationalist demands: The Montagu Declaration also removed the label of sedition from nationalist demands. This is because even the British government had started considering the idea of home rule or self-government the need of the hour. 
  • Responsible government: The British government also imposed the idea of a responsible government. It demanded that rulers must be answerable to the elected representatives instead of the imperial government in London.

Also Read: The Government of India Act 1919

Indian Objection to the August Declaration

Nonetheless, the Montagu declaration faced rejection due to several reasons such as:

  • One-sided decision-making: The declaration fell short of the legitimate expectations of the people of India. Indian nationalists objected to the fact that the time, nature, and process of the transition would be decided by the British government only. They had little to no say in the entire process which made them feel undervalued. 
  • Criticism by Annie Besant: It was heavily criticized during the Calcutta Session of December 1917 that was presided over by Annie Besant. She was also at the forefront of promoting self-government in India. 
  • The reaction of the leaders: On the other hand, Bal Gangadhar Tilak called the Montague reforms “unworthy and disappointing”- sunless dawn”. Indians were also disappointed by the decision of the British government to decide when and how much power should be given to India during the transition. 
  • Lack of specific Time Frame: Among others, the lack of a defined time frame was the primary reason for such unanticipated rejection. While the nationalists wanted clear information about when the concept of self-government would be implemented in India, British officials were reluctant to do so. 
Indian Press Act of 1910C.R. Formula of 1944
Regulating Act of 1773Government of India Act 1858
Pitt’s India Act 1784August Offer 1940


What was the August Declaration of 1917 also known as?

The August Declaration of 1917 is also known as the Montague Declaration. It got its name from Edwin Montague who passed it in the British House of Commons. Interestingly, it became the basis of Montague-Chelmsford reforms in India. 

What is the importance of the August Declaration?

Edwin Montague proposed the historic August Declaration on August 20, 1917, which later came to be known as the Montague Declaration. It helped in the upliftment of Indians by providing them with greater representation across various sectors. Moreover, it also provided them control over the entire administration. In simple words, it gave Nationalists a foundation to realize the need of the hour and the urgency of self-governance in India.

What was the August Declaration of 1927?

In simple words, the August Declaration of 1927 refers to an announcement made by Edwin Samuel Montagu. He was acting as the Secretary of State for India who wanted to give Indians complete control over the administration of their country. Moreover, the Declaration had numerous key objectives such as increasing active Indian participation. 

That’s all about the August Declaration of 1917! If you want to know more about topics like this, then visit our Study Notes on Modern History of India or general knowledge page! Alternatively, you can also read our blog on general knowledge for competitive exams!

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