Building the Modern State: Public Opinion and Govern-ability

World War II was fatal to the European colonial empires. European states’ populations were too devastated to consider fighting to keep Asia and Africa subjugated. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were hostile to continuation of European colonies. A reluctant Britain, in return for American support, in 1941 agreed to the Atlantic Charter, a pact recognizing the right of people to choose their own government. The Indian National Congress agreed to support the British war effort in return for a significant share of power in India and a postwar commitment to independence. The British rejected the offer. Negotiations failed to lessen increasing tensions. Mass civil disobedience campaigns, such as the Quit India movement, began during 1942. Gandhi and other leaders were imprisoned. The Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, gained favor by supporting the British. The war caused hardship in India through inflation and famine. When a Labour government came to power in Britain in 1945, independence in the near future was conceded. The divided Indians were unable to work out a compromise between Hindu desires for one nation under majority rule and Muslim wishes for a separate state. When communal rioting spread, the British agreed to the creation of two independent nations, India and Pakistan, in 1947. Read the information in the background material, look for more information and then write a 3- to 5-page paper answering the following questions: Describe how decolonization occurred in India. Describe what happened at Partition and how this represented a breakdown in governability.

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