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Government of India Act of 1935

The round table conferences of the early 1930's as well as a White Paper published in 1933 formed the basis for what would become the Government of India Act of 1935. The important clauses of the act were:

  • It proposed to restructure the country into a federation of provinces and princely states. The choice of joining the federation was left to provinces/states.
  • The provinces would enjoy autonomy in certain matters, whilst the centre controlled the important subjects. The executive authority remained with the Governor who would act on the advice of the ministers. The party that had a majority in the state assembly would form the provincial government and the governor would appoint the council of ministers. Whilst this system appeared to give the provinces some form of self government, the governor was still the highest power in the state. He could veto bills passed by the legislature and controlled the police and the civil service. Hence although the ministers controlled many departments the governor still was the ultimate power in the state.
  • The provinces would either have one or two assemblies depending on its size, with the lower house known as the Legislative Assembly and the upper house known as the Legislative Council.
  • Finally at the federal level, there would be an assembly which would comprise of the representatives of the princely states and provinces. The representatives of the provinces would be directly elected while the respective princes would appoint those of the states.
The Government of India Act of 1935 was deemed to be the best way by which the British could rule the country indefinitely. It also gave the Indian nationalists a valuable opportunity to gain experience in the parliamentary system, an experience which would be invaluable when power was handed over to them on Independence Day.

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