General Studies IHISTORYModern India

Quit India Movement


The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has greeted the nation on the eve of the anniversary of Quit India Movement Day.

It was officially launched by the Indian National Congress (INC) led by Mahatma Gandhi on 9 August 1942.

About Quit India Movement:

  • The Quit India Movement also known as the August Movement, was a movement launched at the Bombay session of the All India Congress Committee by Mahatma Gandhi on 8 August 1942, at Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank Maidan also known as August Kranti Maidan, during World War II, demanding an end to British rule in India.
  • After the failure of the Cripps Mission to secure Indian support for the British war effort, Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay on 8 August 1942 at the Gowalia Tank Maidan.
  • The draft proposed massive civil disobedience if the British did not accede to the demands.
  • Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Sarojini Naidu, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Dr. Rajendra Prasad,S itaramaiyya, G.V.Pant,Praful Chandra Ghosh, Saiyyad Mehmood, Asaf Ali, J.B.Kriplani, Mahatma Gandhi, etc. had taken part.
  • The president of this session was Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
  • On August 8, 1942 in the meeting of AICC, Jawaharlal Nehru presented Quit India resolution and Sardar Patel supported it. The draft of Quit India Resolution was prepared by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Mahatma Gandhi gave clear instructions on Gowalia Tank Maidan to all people who worked across various fields in the nation like

  • Government Officers – To not leave their jobs but stay faithful to the congress

  • Soldiers – To not resign and leave the army, instead, obey the orders given by Britishers but do not fire on our own people.

  • Peasants – To not pay any land revenues and taxes
    • Students: can leave studies if they are confident enough.
    • Princes: support the people and accept the sovereignty of them.
    • People of the princely states: support the ruler only if he is anti-government; declare themselves as part of the Indian nation.
  • The Quit India Resolution was passed by the Congress Working Committee on 8 August 1942 in Bombay. Gandhi was named the movement’s leader.
  • The resolution stated the provisions of the movement as:
    • An immediate end to British rule over India.
    • Declaration of the commitment of free India to defend itself against all kinds of imperialism and fascism.
    • Formation of a provisional government of India after British withdrawal.
    • Sanctioning a civil disobedience movement against British rule.
  • The commander-in-chief of the Indian Army during Quit Indian movement was Lord Wavell.
  • Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Communist Party of India and the princely states opposed the Quit India movement.
  • In 1992, the Reserve Bank of India issued a 1 rupee commemorative coin to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Quit India Movement

Significance of the Quit India Movement:

  • The movement was carried forward without the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, or any other leader, all of whom were jailed on its commencement.
  • All sections of people participated in huge numbers.
  • Decentralized command was the prime significance of this movement.
  • The British began to seriously think about the issue of Indian independence after seeing the upsurge among the masses. It changed the nature of political negotiations with British empire in 1940s which ultimately paved the way of India’s independence.
  • The slogan of ‘Do or Die’ remains the most Krantikari slogan to this day.
  • It is also a symbol of political betrayal. Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) and even the undivided Communist party opposed Gandhi as well as his call for complete civil disobedience.

Quit India Movement Causes/Reasons 

There were two major reasons that caused the Quit India Movement. The first reason was the failure of the Cripps Mission. Here, Stafford Cripps, a member of the war cabinet, was sent to India to resolve the issues of Indians. This decision was taken by the British to ensure support from Indians against the Japanese war. 

Stafford Cripps proposed three benefits for the Indians and in return expected full support from them against the war. The proposals that he gave are as follows 

  • India would be granted Dominion Status after the war.

  • A separate Constituent Assembly would be set up for India under which the members of the constituent assembly would be partially elected by provisional assemblies and partially nominated by the princes.

  • India would be granted the right to secede under which the provinces that do not agree with the constitution can separate themselves and make their own constitution.

These proposals however did not guarantee complete freedom. Mahatma Gandhi said that the Dominion status offered after the war by Stafford Cripps is like a post-dated cheque that can be withdrawn from a failing bank. This proposal was immediately rejected by Congress. Since the mission failed, Stafford Cripps then went back to his country. 

Consequences of Quit India Movement:

  • The economic and physical loses were immense: casualties-fatal and non-fatal, defections from police and other government departments, imposition of collective fines, sufferings caused to women and children and firing from air were the glaring phenomenon during the movement.
  • The damage to government property was immense. The government buildings, police stations, municipal schools, hospitals and private buildings were severely damaged. The cases of bomb explosions were also evident in various regions.
  • Special courts were set up to deal with criminal cases. The Government records stated that ordinary courts convicted 23,358 persons, by military courts and 41 death sentences were confirmed out of 67 persons who were sentenced to death.
  • The Congress propaganda with the media of cyclostyled literature was a forceful device among the masses of India. These machines operated by small and big shopkeepers proved instrumental in circulating handbills and sheets, which came secretly in hands of numerous Satyagrahis. This kind of style was a glaring phenomenon in cities like Bombay, Calcutta, Ahmedabad, Lahore, Patna, Allahabad and elsewhere, such persons were actively hunted of houses led to the arrests and convictions of numerous inmates. Thus official efforts were made to stop all possible sources of publicity and propaganda.
  • The nationalist press was an eyesore for the British Government. It was brought under strict government regulations. The prominent news papers which stopped publications as a result of government’s restrictions on them were the Amrita Bazaar Patrika, Hindustan Standard, Hindustan Times, Basumati, Jugantar, Matrubhoomi, Telegraph, Lokamanya, Jagrati, Daily Krishik, Bharat,Andhra Times, Dinamani, Hindustan and others. In all 69 Newspapers closed down. Devadas Gandhi, editor of the Hindustan Times was arrested for breach of the order of the government that not more than three columns be devoted to news about the national movement.
  • The part played by the Praja Mandal in states like Hyderabad, Mysore, Baroda, Gwalior, Indore, Travancore and Udaipur afforded much support to the movement. They informed the rulers to realize the fact that the time was fast changing and they must value the sentiments and political demands of the people of their states. In some smaller states, people were in total rebellion. In some states, the rulers were reluctant to adopt repressive measures against Satyagrahis but the British residents stationed in their states did not approve of their policy, and they recommended repressive measures against the Satyagrahis.
  • The prominent political parties like Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha, the Communists and the Akalis and the pressure groups having linkage with princes, depressed classes, Europeans in India, women organizations, the Khakasars and others reacted in accordance with the ideology of their organizations.
  • In this regard, the Muslim League reacted at once and called a meeting of its Working Committee, which had its sessions from 16-20 August1942. It passed a long resolution condemning the action of the Indian National Congress by launching the Quit India Movement. The Working Committee resolution also made it clear that the League was wilBng to consider proposals for setting up a provisional government on the basis of equality. It asked the Muslims to keep aloof from the movement and appealed to the British Government to comply with the demand of Pakistan.
  • Thus for three days, the district administrative machinery was completely paralyzed. The calculated plan of the people was to bring about the maximum physical damage to the smooth functioning of the machinery of the government.


  1. The movement was able to draw the attention of world public opinion on the question of Indian freedom. It is correct to say that in the Quit India Movement the Indian revolution reached its culmination. Success of such movements cannot be measured by short-term gains but by its long-term impact, namely in the arousal of the strength of the people and their determination to be free. We can conclude that the movement was a success, in so for as India had already declared herself to be independent and Indian people had demonstrated their will and capacity to be free.
  2. To reconstruct the gains of the movement, it can be said that the movement was able to remove the illusion of the British government that their empire was morally justified, and that the majority of them were loyal subjects of the British.
  3. In fact, the most striking aspect of the Quit India Struggle was the wearing away of whatever loyalty the offices of the British government might have had till then. As a matter of fact, jail and other government officials at the lower level had been openly sympathizing with the movement. Moreover, the British in their hearts were unwillingly obliged to admit that Gandhi had succeeded by his nonviolent efforts in making them realize that time had come for them to quit and they were no more welcome in India.
  4. The wide social base of the movement established beyond doubt the fact that the real hero of 1942 was the common mah who came out victorious by his own efforts helped by many other national and international events. The overall impact of the movement was thus very momentous.
  5. The Quit India Movement convinced even Churchill, the conservative prime minister, one of the great opponents of India’s independence, that the British could not keep their hold over India for long. He confessed before the king only a few days before the commencement of the movement.” The idea of the transfer of power in India has become an admitted inevitability in the minds of British party leaders”.
    Linlithgow, the Viceroy, admitted that “Quit India Movement was by far the most serious rebellion since that of 1857, the gravity and extent of which we have so far concealed from the world for reasons of militaiy security”.

The movement can be termed both as a rebellion and as a revolution. It might have failed as a rebellion but it was successful as a revolution. The impact of the rebellion was also significant, keeping in view Linlithgow’s statement cited above.

Source: PIB

Mains Question

Q. 1)  The Quit India Movement deviated from the Gandhian ideology. Discuss (150 words)

Q. 2)  How Quit India movement gave a new direction to India’s freedom struggle?

Q. 3)  How did Quit India movement start? What is its significance in India’s struggle for  independence?

Q 4). Under what circumstances was the Quit India movement launched? What were its impacts?

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