Congress Ministries – UPSC GS1

How did the Congress ministries perform and with what consequences during their brief stint of power from 1937 to 1939 during India’s struggle for Independence? Critically evaluate. (200 Words)

The 28 month congress rule was significant.
Work done by congress ministries in different spheres:
CIVIL LIBERTY:
Achievement:
  • Emergency powers related laws repealed.
  • Restrictions and ban on press, certain books, newspapers, and illegal organisations was lifted.
Failure:
  • Yusuf Meherally and S.S.Batliwala were arrested for inflammatory and seditious speeches. K.M.Munshi used CID against communist and leftist.
AGRARIAN REFORMS:
Achievement:
  • Legislated a number of laws relating to land reforms, debt relief, forest grazing fee, arrears of rent, land tenure sect.
Failure:
  • Most of these benefits went to statutory and occupancy tenants while sub-tenants did not gain much.
  • Agricultural labourers did not benefit as they had not been mobilised.
SOCIAL WELFARE REFORMS:
Achievement:
  • Measures for welfare of Harijans taken-temple entry, education, etc.
  • Encouragement was given to khadi and indigenous enterprises.
  • In 1938 national planning committee set up under congress president Subhash Chandra Bose.
  • Reforms in education, public health, sanitation as well as in prisons were undertaken.
LABOUR:
Achievement:
  • Goodwill sought to be created between labour and capital with mediation of ministries.
  • Efforts were made to improve workers ‘ condition and secure wage increase for them.
Failure:
  • Ministries failed in Bombay as mediator.
  • Leftist critics were unsatisfied.
  • Ministries took recourse to section 144 and arrested the leaders.
CONSEQUENCES:
  • Administrative work by Indians weakened the myth that Indians were not fit to rule.
  • People were able to perceive the shape of things to come if independence was won.
  • The contention that Indian self-government was necessary for radical social transformation got confirmed.
  • Movement could use state power to further its ends without being co-opted.
  • Congress ministries failed in Agrarian Reforms (to abolish Zamindari) because of constraints like-less powers, less financial resources, etc. but in other spheres they did very well.