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Quit India Movement

Quit India Movement

On August 8, 2023, India marked the 81st anniversary of the Quit India Movement, famously known as August Kranti.

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  • On August 8, 1942, Mahatma Gandhi made a historic announcement at the All-India Congress Committee session in Mumbai, urging an end to British rule and initiating the Quit India Movement.
  • Gandhi’s famous “Do or Die” call resonated during his speech at Gowalia Tank Maidan, now known as August Kranti Maidan.
  • Aruna Asaf Ali, affectionately called the ‘Grand Old Lady’ of the Independence Movement, played a pivotal role by hoisting the Indian flag at Gowalia Tank Maidan during the Quit India Movement.
  • The catchy slogan “Quit India” was coined by Yusuf Meherally, a socialist and trade unionist, who also served as the Mayor of Mumbai. Additionally, he was the brains behind the famous slogan “Simon Go Back.”

What Caused the Movement?

Cripps Mission Failure: The Cripps Mission, led by Stafford Cripps, aimed to address India’s constitutional and self-government issues. However, it fell apart because it proposed Dominion Status for India instead of complete freedom, and also suggested partition.

Indian World War II Involvement: India’s entry into World War II was not consulted with the Indian National Congress, leading to resentment. The assumption of unconditional support by the British was met with disapproval.

Anti-British Sentiments: Growing anti-British feelings and a widespread desire for full independence among the Indian population added to the tension.

Centralization of Movements: Over two decades, various Congress-associated bodies like the All India Kisan Sabha and Forward Bloc led radical mass movements. These efforts laid the groundwork for the Quit India Movement.

Shortage of Essential Goods: The economy suffered due to the impact of World War II, leading to shortages of essential commodities and contributing to the discontent that fueled the movement.

Demands of the Movement

  • People wanted the British to leave India right away so that Indians would willingly help in World War II against fascism.
  • After the British left, there was a call to set up a temporary government.

Phases of Movement

First Phase:

  • First Phase, urban revolt, marked by strikes, boy cott and picketing (protesting), which were quickly suppressed.
  • There were strikes and demonstrations all over the country and workers provided the support by not working in the factories.
  • Gandhiji was soon imprisoned at Aga Khan Palace in Pune and almost all leaders were arrested.

Second Phase:

  • The focus shifted to the countryside, which witnessed a major peasant rebellion, marked by destruction of communication sys­tems, such as railway tracks and stations, telegraph wires and poles, attacks on government buildings or any other visible symbol of colo­nial authority.

Third Phase:

  • The last phase witnessed the formation of national governments or parallel governments in isolated pockets (Ballia, Tamluk, Satara etc.)

Successes and Failures of the Movement


Rise of Future Leaders: Inspiring figures like Ram Manohar Lohia, J.P. Narayan, Aruna Asaf Ali, Biju Patnaik, and Sucheta Kriplani engaged in underground activities, later emerging as prominent leaders.

Women Participation: Women played a crucial role, with leaders like Usha Mehta setting up an underground radio station that contributed to raising awareness about the movement.

Paved the way for Independence: Despite the movement being crushed in 1944, it prompted the British to realize that governing India in the long run was unsustainable due to the costs of World War II. This realization changed the nature of political negotiations, ultimately paving the way for India’s independence.

Rise of Nationalism: The Quit India Movement fostered a stronger sense of unity and brotherhood, leading to widespread actions like students leaving schools, people quitting jobs, and withdrawing money from banks.


Brutal Repression: Unfortunately, in some places, the movement turned violent and faced brutal repression by the British. Instances of shootings, lathi charges, burning of villages, and imposing enormous fines occurred, leading to over 1,00,000 arrests.

Lack of Support: The Quit India Movement did not receive unanimous support. The Muslim League, Communist Party of India, and Hindu Mahasabha refrained from endorsing it. The Indian bureaucracy also did not rally behind the movement.

  • The Muslim League was not in favor of immediate British withdrawal without partition.
  • The Communist Party supported the British due to their alliance with the Soviet Union.
  • The Hindu Mahasabha openly opposed and boycotted the movement, fearing internal disorder and threats to security during the war.
  • Some Congress members, like C Rajagopalachari, resigned from the provincial legislature due to disagreements with Mahatma Gandhi’s approach.

Alternative Leadership: Meanwhile, Subhas Chandra Bose took a different path, organizing the Indian National Army and the Azad Hind government from outside the country, providing an alternative leadership.


Gandhi and most of the top Congress leaders were arrested shortly after. This marked the beginning of a genuine people-driven movement in our fight for freedom. The British responded with violence, but it conveyed a powerful message – the only acceptable outcome for the Indian masses was the departure of the British rulers.

Read Also: Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule

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