Nehru Report

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Nehru Report was the response of the Indian nationalists to the appointment of an all white British parliamentary commission, often referred to as the simon commission in November 1927 to study the Indian constitutional problem.

In January 1928 a committee was constituted at an all parties conference with Pandit Motilal Nehru as its chairman to consider and determine the principles of the future constitution for India, particularly for viewing the communal problem as a whole and its relation to the constitution. About 28 organisations representing different shades of opinion were represented in the conference. Besides Motilal Nehru, other members were Ali Imam, Shuaib Qureshi, MS Aney, MR Jayakar, GR Pradhan, Sardar Mangal Singh, Tej Bahadur Sapru, and MN Joshi. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, at that time General Secretary of the Congress, acted as secretary of the committee. Because of the potential difference of opinion between the left and the right on the nature of the constitution, the committee adopted a formula, 'full responsible government on the model of the constitution of the self-governing dominions'.

Of the many recommendations of the committee in producing a draft constitution the one that had far-reaching impact was a provision for the complete reversal of the Hindu-Muslim concordat of 1916. The report referred to what it considered the illogical fear of the Muslims of being dominated by the Hindu majority. It rejected separate electorate and recommended reservation of seats for the Muslims only in provinces where they constituted a minority. Other features of the hastily drafted report were: attainment of Dominion Status envisioning full responsible government; a federal constitution guaranteeing rights and privileges to the princely states; full status of a province to the Muslim majority area of north west frontier; and a Declaration of rights to be incorporated in the constitution.

The Nehru report caused deep anguish among the Muslim political circles in Bengal; they saw in it the spectre of Hindu domination. The principle of separate electorate had become the sine quo non of Muslim politics in Bengal and its sudden rejection was looked upon as a betrayal of the Muslim cause by the Hindus. They claimed that because of their provincial majority they should be granted a majority in the legislature, and to protect them from economic and educational exploitation of the Hindus they should continue to have separate electorate. The Hindus saw no logic in these demands and instead claimed that, though they were in a population minority, they fully deserved their present majority in the house on the grounds of past services and present capacity.

The Report, which was not intended to be a comprehensive document but only an inter-party agreement on constitutional form, did not produce any significant impact except raising fresh communal rancor. It may be noted that Mohammed Ali jinnah's Fourteen Points originated as his amendment to the Nehru Report and contained elements for special safeguard for Muslim interest. [Enayetur Rahim]