Indian Statutory Commission

Round Table Conferences, 1930-1932

12 Nov 1930
Event location: 



In response to the inadequacy of the Simon Report, the Labour Government, which had come to power under Ramsay MacDonald in 1929, decided to hold a series of Round Table Conferences in London.

The first Round Table Conference convened from 12 November 1930 to 19 January 1931. Prior to the Conference, M. K. Gandhi had initiated the Civil Disobedience Movement on behalf of the Indian National Congress. Consequently, since many of the Congress' leaders were in jail, Congress did not participate in the first conference, but representatives from all other Indian parties and a number of Princes did. The outcomes of the first Round Table Conference were minimal: India was to develop into a federation, safeguards regarding defence and finance were agreed and other departments were to be transferred. However, little was done to implement these recommendations and civil disobedience continued in India. The British Government realized that the Indian National Congress needed to be part of deciding the future of constitutional government in India.

Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, met with Gandhi to reach a compromise. On 5 March 1931 they agreed the folowing to pave the way for the Congress' participation in the second Round Table Conference: Congress would discontinue the Civil Disobedience Movement, it would participate in the second Round Table Conference, the Government would withdraw all ordinances issued to curb the Congress, the Government would withdraw all prosecutions relating to offenses not involving violence and the Government would release all persons undergoing sentences of imprisonment for their activities in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

The second Round Table Conference was held in London from 7 September 1931 to 1 December 1931 with the participation of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. Two weeks before the Conference convened, the Labour government had been replaced by the Conservatives. At the conference, Gandhi claimed to represent all people of India. This view, however, was not shared by other delegates. In fact, the division between the many attending groups was one of the reasons why the outcomes of the second Round Table Conference were again no substantial results regarding India's constitutional future. Meanwhile, civil unrest had spread throughout India again, and upon return to India Gandhi was arrested along with other Congress leaders. A separate province of Sind was created and the interests of minorities were safeguarded by MacDonald's Communal Award.

The third Round Table Conference (17 November 1932 - 24 December 1932) was not attended by the Indian National Congress and Gandhi. Many other Indian leaders were also absent. Like the two first conferences, little was achieved. The recommendations were published in a White Paper in March 1933 and debated in Parliament afterwards. A Joint Select Committee was formed to analyse the recommendations and formulate a new Act for India. The Committee produced a draft Bill in February 1935 which was enforced as the Government of India Act of 1935 in July 1935.

Labour Government
People involved: 

 R. Z. Abbasy, C. P. Ramaswami Aiyer, Sir Sultan Ahmed, B. R. Ambedkar, Rai Bahadur Pandit Amar Nath Atal, Rai Bahadur Raja Oudh Narain Bisarya, Pandit Nanak Chand, Rao Bahadur Krishnama Chari, C. Y. Chintamani, Maulvi Fazl-i-Haq, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, A. H. Ghuznavi, K. V. Godbole, Khan Bahadur Hafiz Hidayat Husain, Wajahat Hussain, Nawab Liaqat Hyat-Khan, Sir Akbar Hydari, Mohammad Iqbal, Sir Mirza Ismail, M. R. Jayakar, Sir Cowasji Jehangir, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, N. M. Joshi, Maulana Muhammad Ali Joukar, Nawab Mahdi Yar Jung, Pandit Ramachandra Kak, N. C. Kelkar, Raja of Khallicote, Sir Aga Khan,Sahibzada Mumtaz Ali Khan of Malerkotla, Nawab Hamidullah Khan of Bhopal, Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Shafaat Ahmed Khan, Mir Maqbul Mahmood, Sir Manubhai N. Mehta, Sir B. N. Mitra, B. S. Moonje, Diwan Bahadur Mudaliyar, Sarojini Naidu, Begum Shah Nawaz, K. C. Neogy, Major Pande, Rao Bahadur Pandit,  K. M. Panikkar, Sir Sukhdeo Prasad, Pandit P. N. Pathak, Rao Bahadur Sir A. P. Patro, Sir Prabhashankar Pattani, G. B. Pillai, B. I. Powar, S. Qureshi,  R. K. Ranadive, K. S. Ranjitsinhji of Nawanagar, Madhava Rao, Sayaji Rao, Raja of Sarila, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Srinivasa Sastri, C. N. Seddon, Muhammad Shafi,  Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja Ganga Singh, Maharaja Hari Singh, Sardar Ujjal Singh, Yuvaraj Shri Digvijaya Sinhji of Limbdi, Sir Nripendra Nath Sircar, R. K. Sorabji, Rao Sahib D. A. Surve, Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas, B. H. Zaidi.

R. A. Butler, Sir Hubert Carr, C. L. Corfield, J. C. C. Davidson, Sir Henry Gidney, Viscount Hailsham, C. G. Herbert, Sir Samuel Hoare, Lord Irwin, Mr. Gavin Jones, Lord Lothian, Ramsay MacDonald (Prime Minister), Lord Peel, Viscount Sankey, Sir Richard Chenevix-Trench, L. F. Rushbrook Williams, J. W. Young, Marquess of Zetland.

Published works: 

Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930 - 19th January, 1931: Proceedings of Sub-Committees (London: H. M. S. O., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930 - 19th January, 1931: Proceedings, Presented by the Secretary of State for India to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, January, 1931 (London: H. M. S. O., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930 - 19th January, 1931, Sub-Committees' Reports, Conference Resolution, and Prime Minister's Statement: Presented by the Secretary of State for India to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, January, 1931 (London: H. M. S. O., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, St. James's Palace: Delegates from the Indian States and British India (London, 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, 12th November, 1930 - 19th January, 1931: The Question of Constituting Sind as a Separate Province (Karachi: Indus Publications, 1979) 

Indian Round Table Conference: 7th September - 1st December 1931: Statement Made by the Prime Minister to the Conference at the Conclusion of Its Second Session on the 1st December 1931 (London: H. M. S. O., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference, Second Session, 7th September, 1931 - 1st December, 1931: Proceedings of Federal Structire Committee and Minorities Committee (London: H. M. S. O., 1932)

The Round Table Conference: India's Demand for Dominion Status: Speeches by the King, the Premier, the British Party Leaders and the Representatives of the Princes and People of India (Madras: G. A. Natesan & Co., 1931)

Indian Round Table Conference: Second Session, 7th September, 1931 - 1st December, 1931: Proceedings (London: H. M. S. O., 1932)

Indian Round Table Conference: 7th September - 1st December, 1931: Reports of Committees (London: 1932)

Indian Round Table Conference, Third Session, 17th November, 1932 - 24th December, 1932 (London: H. M. S. O., 1933)

Secondary works: 

Arora, K. C., Indian Nationalist Movement in Britain (New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 1992)

Bridge, Carl, Holding India to the Empire: The British Conservative Party and the 1935 Constitution (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1986) 

Goyal, P. K., Battle of India's Freedom Movement (Delhi: Vista International Publishing House, 2005)

Jinnah, Mohammed Ali, Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah Speeches: Round Table Conference (1930-1932), Muhammad Ali Siddiqui (ed.) (Karachi: Quaid-i-Azam Academy, 1996)

Simon Report

07 Jun 1930
Event location: 

London, Bombay, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Calcutta, Rangoon, Madras, Nagpur


The Indian Statutory Commission, commonly referred to as the Simon Commission after its chairman Sir John Allsebrook Simon, was sent to India in 1928 (February - March and October 1928 - April 1929) to study potential constitutional reform. In 1930, the Commission published its two-volume report, also known as the Simon Report.

The Simon Commission was dispatched to India in 1928 to review the the Government of India Act 1919. The Commission, appointed by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, did not include any Indian delegates. As a result, the Indian National Congress and a faction of the Muslim League, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, decided to boycott the Commission. Upon arrival in Bombay on 3 February 1928, the Commission was met by protests. In London, the London Branch of the Indian National Congress planned a demonstration upon the return of the Commission.

The Simon Report was met with disappointment and condemnation throughout India. The Indian National Congress mistrusted the findings of the Commission and the Congress boycotted the Report. Gandhi subsequently started the Civil Disobedience Movement. Mohammed Ali Jinnah made it clear that the report was unacceptable to Hindus, Muslims and Indian nationalists. The Muslims considered the Report to be reactionary; the executive Board of the All-India Muslim Conference called the Report 'unacceptable'. Prominent members of the Legislative Assembly of India such as Mian Mohammed Shah Nawaz, Gaya Prasad Singh, Dr. Ziauddin and M. R. Jayakar criticized it as well. Even the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, made it clear that the Report stood no chance of public acceptance in India.

In London, the Workers' Welfare League of India and the London Branch of the Indian National Congress organized a demonstration against the Commission. Some 200 demonstrators marched from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Station; many of the demonstrators were removed by the police. Shapurji Saklatvala, who led the demonstration, raised the issue in Parliament but was informed that the Home Secretary, Joynson Hicks, had sanctioned this police operation.

In the wake of the Report, a series of Round Table Conferences were set up from 1930 to 1932. The outcome of the Commission and the Conferences was the Government of India Act 1935. The Act ended the dyarchy and direct elections were introduced for the first time. Sind was separated from Bombay, Orissa was separated from Bihar and Burma was separated from India. Provincial assemblies were to include more elected Indian representatives, who could lead majorities and form governments. However, governors retained discretionary powers regarding summoning of legislatures, giving assent to bills and administering certain special regions.

Sir John Simon
People involved: 

Clement Attlee, Edward Cadogan, George Lane-Fox, Vernon Hartshorn, Donald Howard, Harry Levy-Lawson, Sir John Allsebrook Simon.

Annie Besant, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, M. R. Jayakar, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Mohammed Shah Nawaz, Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal Nehru, Lala Rajpat Rai, Shapurji Saklatvala, Mian Gaya Prasad Singh, Dr. Ziauddin.

Published works: 

Documents Concerning the Origin and Purpose of the Indian Statutory Commission: Reprinted from a Statements Prepared for Presentation to Parliament, in Accordance with the Requirements of the 26th Section of the Government of India Act (5 and 6 Geo. V., chapter 61 (Worcester, MA; New York City: Carnegie Endownment for International Peace, Division of Intercourse and Education, 1930)

Indian Statutory Commission - Publications (1930)

Interim Report of the Indian Statutory Commission: Review of Growth of Education in British India (London: H. M. S. O., 1929)

Separation of Burma, Separation from Burma: Views of Burma's Future Through a British Report on the Constitutional Position of India, 1930 (Pekhon: Pekhon University Press, 2003)

Secondary works: 

Acharya, M. K., The Commission Boycott, or, Rights vs. Concessions: A Psychological Study (Madras: Sri Rama Press, 1928)

Ahmad, Waheed, 'Report of the Simon Commission: An Analysis of the Report and the Significance of Its Recommendations in the Constitutional Discussion Leading to the Enactment of the Government of India Act, 1935', Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan, 11 (1974)

Andrews, C. F., India and the Simon Report (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1930)

Arora, K. C., Indian Nationalist Movement in Britain, 1930-1949 (New Delhi: Inter-India Publications, 1992)

Bakshi, S. R., Simon Commission and Indian Nationalism (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1977)

Banerji, Sir Albion Rajkumar and Menon, V. K. Krishna, The Report and the Conference: Being an Study of the Simon Report (1930)

Besant, Annie Wood, The Simon Report (London: India Bookshop, for the Commonwealth of India League, 1930)

Bose, Subhas Chandra, The Indian Struggle, 1920-1942 (Calcutta: Netaji Research Bureau; Delhi; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Bridge, Carl, Holding India to the Empire: The British Conservative Party and the 1935 Constitution (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1986)

British Indian Association (India), Statement on the Recommendation of the Indian Statutory Commission, by the Landholders of India (Calcutta, 1930)

Brock, R. W., The Simon Report on India: An Abridgement (London: Dent, 1930)

Cadogan, Edward Cecil George, The India We Saw (London: John Murray, 1933)

The Commission [i.e. The Simon Commssion on Indian Statutory Reform] and After. By a Liberal (Bombay: D. B. Tarapolevala, 1928)

(Constitutional Reform) Communal Decisions, Cmd. 4147 (1932)

Daily Mail (1917-35)

Dhawan, Thakur Datta, Memorandum Submitted to the Indian Statutory Commission on Reforms in the North West Frontier, Based on the Resolution Passed at a Special Meeting of the Provincial Hindu Conference at Peshawar, on 27th March 1928 (Peshawar, 1928)

Durkal, Jayendraray Bhagavanlal, Indian Education: Case for Indianization of Education, Religious Instruction, Therapeutic View of Education: Being the Statement (Part II) Submitted to the Education Committee, The Indian Statutory Commission (Jurat: J. B. Durkal, 1928)

Edwardes, Michael, The Last Years of British India (London: Cassell, 1963)

Gangulee, Nagendranath, Notes on Indian Constitutional Reform, Incorporating Memorandum Submitted to the Indian Statutory Commission (Calcutta, 1930)

Gopal, Sarvepalli, The Viceroyalty of Lord Irwin, 1926-1931 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957)

Government of India Acts, 1919 and 1935 

Husain, Azim, Fazl-i-Husain: A Political Biography (Bombay: Longmans, 1946)

India: The Commission and the Conference: A Reprint of Leading Articles from The Times on the Indian Question from the Return of the Statutory Commission from India to the Conclusion of the Round-Table Conference in London (London, 1931)

Indian Legislative Assembly Debates, 1921-35

Indian Round Table Conference, Proceedings, 1930-32

Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform, Minutes of Evidence, 3 vols (London: 1934)

Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform, Report (London: 1934)

Khaliquzzaman, Choudhry, Pathway to Pakistan (Lahore: Longmans, 1961)

Memoranda Submitted by the Government of India to the Indian Statutory Commission, Pts 6-7 (Rangoon, Burma: Superintendent, Govt. Print and Stationary, 1928)

Moghe, Krishnaji Balvant, The Indian States in Their Relations with the British Paramount Power and the Government of British India: The Butler Committee and the Statutory Commission on Indian Reforms (Bombay, 1928)

Nehru, Jawaharlal, An Autobiography: With Musings on Recent Events in India (London: John Lane, 1936)

Parliamentary Debates, 1917-35

Proposals for Indian Constitutional Reform, Cmd. 4268 (1933)

Ratcliffe, Samuel Kerkham, What the Simon Report Means (London: New Statesman, 1930)

Saklatvala, Sehri, The Fifth Commandment: A Biography of Shapurji Saklatvala (Salford: Miranda Press, 1991)

Setalvad, Chimanlal, Recollections & Reflections: An Autobiography (Bombay: Padma Publications, 1946)

Simon, Sir John Allsebrook, India and the Simon Report: A Talk (New York: Coward-MacCann, 1930)

Simon, Sir John Allsebrook, Retrospect: The Memoirs of Viscount Simon (London: Hutchinson, 1952)

Sitaramayya, B. Pattabhi, The History of The Indian National Congress, 1885-1935 (Madras, 1935)

Sivasvami Aiyar, Sir Paramanheri Sundaram, The Simon Commission Report Examined (1930)

Templewood, Samuel John Gurney Hoare, Nine Troubled Years (London: Collins, 1954)

Times (1917-1935)

Times of India, 20 June (1930)

Times of India, 25 June (1930)

Times of India, 26 June (1930)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2001)

Wood, Edward Frederick Lindley (Earl of Halifax), Fulness of Days (London: Collins, 1957)

Wrench, Guy Theodore, In Defence of the Agrarian: A Criticism of the Simon Commission's Report and an Alternative Policy (Cawnpore: Country League, 1930)

Zetland, Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, Marquis of Zetland, 1876-1961, 'Essayez': The Memoirs of Lawrence, Second Marquess of Zetland (London: John Murray, 1956)

Archive source: 

Mss Eur C 152, Holifax Collection, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Mss Eur E 240, Templewood Collection, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

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