Labour Imperial Establishment, and Protecting British Power, and Interests in the Decolonisation Process: Bevinian Atlanticist View in A Bi-Partisan British Post WWII.

Labour Imperial Establishment, and Protecting British Power, and Interests in the Decolonisation Process: Bevinian Atlanticist View in A Bi-Partisan British Post WWII.

To supervise partition, both the Congress and the Muslim League joined in a temporary administration. In the beginning of June, the partition plan for the two new states of India and Pakistan was formally made public. In July 1947, the India Independence Act was rushed through the Parliament in the United Kingdom. On 15th August 1947 India and Pakistan gained their independence. Pakistan was formed out of East Bengal, the western Punjab, Sind and Baluchistan. About 80,000,000 people eventually found themselves in Pakistan and 320,000,000 in India. There was massive migration of Hindus from territory designated to Pakistan, and of Muslims from India territory. Maharajas, Rajas and Nizams joined the most appropriate of the new states.

In Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah became the Governor-General. Lord Mountbatten served briefly as the Governor-General of India where Nehru became the Prime Minister. Gandhi, who had mobilised the masses behind Congress and had campaigned to the last to avoid communal violence, was assassinated by a Hindu extremist five months after independence. Jinnah died towards the end of 1949. As was shown in Chapter Three of this thesis, there yet came a further British-style compromise, in 1949. Although the Indians decided to remain in the Commonwealth, they wanted to be a republic. In order to accommodate such a demand for republican status within the Commonwealth, the British government produced a new formula, in consultation with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers at the conference of 1949. The chief innovation was the description of the monarch as ‘head of the Commonwealth.’ It became possible that within two years of its independence India should have trimmed the title of the British sovereign in this way, provided that Commonwealth interests were supported. India was regarded as an economic advantage to Britain and thus Britain reacted to maintain a close relationship with that country.

The progress towards the independence of India, as had been anticipated, opened the way to all the colonies first in Asia, then in Africa, and finally in the other parts, for advancing towards independence. Subsequent movements towards independence took place in Burma and Ceylon in Asia. As for Burma, it had never allowed the British fully to reinstate themselves after the defeat of the Japanese. It could be said that the abrupt defeat of the British at Singapore in 1942 became an encouragement for all the colonies to struggle for their independence. Professor Carrington has put it this way: “The Capture of Singapore by the Japanese in February 1942 was a far greater disaster to the Commonwealth and Empire as a whole and, accordingly to the British as an imperial power, than the evacuation of Dunkirk.”25 Burma became a republic in January 1948 and left the Commonwealth. Quite few of the colonies in Asia were experienced politically, such as Ceylon and Malaya. Therefore, Britain had no objection to their movement to independence. For example, Ceylon’s progress towards independence was not dramatic. A month after Burma gained its full nationhood, Ceylon became a Dominion within the Commonwealth, but the United Kingdom retained a number of naval bases which they had held during the years when they controlled the politics of the island, and only withdrew the bases in 1957. Similar patterns of granting independence to India took place in other Asian colonies. However, the process of attaining political independence for the colonies in other parts of the British Empire, such as East Africa and elsewhere, was not as smooth as the way the Asian colonies gained their full nationhood. This was mainly because the policy-makers in London were reluctant to recognise the legitimacy of the local nationalist leaders.

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