Impact of the World Wars on India




Impact of the World Wars on India:

During wartime, England felt an increasing need for manpower and money. Therefore, the British Government began recruiting army personnel from India. At times the recruitment was enforced on Indians. Extra taxes were levied on Indians for raising funds. Taxes on trade and industries were raised. During the war period prices of essential commodities went up. Along with the inflation and hike in prices, Indians also suffered because of increasing unemployment caused by an industrial recession. Indians could see that the exploitative rule of the British was responsible for this miserable state of affairs. Indians from all strata of the society, workers, farmers and the middle class, joined in large numbers in the national movement against the British rule. September 1939 saw the emergence of the Second World War. Initially, it was England and France against Germany and Italy.

When England declared war against Germany, the Viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow announced that India also was joining the war, to support England. The Indian National Congress protested against the Viceroy’s announcement. The Congress was against the German and Italian ideologies, which were inclined toward aggressive dictatorship and also against England’s colonialism inclined toward imperialism. England claimed that it was fighting for protecting democracy in Europe. The Indian National Congress demanded that if England was true to its words then it should immediately grant India’s freedom. Congress also made a commitment that India, as an independent nation would help England in the war against Germany. It was also announced that if the imperialistic administration of the British Government in India was to prevail, then Indians will not help the British. However, Lord Linlithgow announced that the British Government will not ponder upon any of the Indian issues till the end of the war. Reacting to this announcement the Indian National Congress decided not to participate in any of the tasks related to war.

At about the same time, the Japanese army reached the eastern border of India. There were thousands of volunteers who had joined this army. They were the patriotic members of ‘Azad Hind Sena’. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was their leader. His policy was to take advantage of the situation to move the Indians for intense opposition to the British, while the British were engaged in war. He felt that even enemy of the British may be approached for help if the need be. Azad Hind Sena fought fiercely for attaining its goal, i.e. independence of India and contributed to India’s freedom struggle.

In the month of August 1945, the Second World War was finally concluded. In this war, England emerged victoriously but it lost heavily in terms of human life and economic conditions. As a result, England grew weaker. The British Government in India, now aware that Indian soldiers and people are not meek and submissive as before, ruling them was no easier. Also, India was not going to be the perennial source of profit for them as it used to be. They decided to return home.

The two world wars caused the loss of life and wealth to a great extent. The awareness that there should be an effective measure to avoid such wars in future made the victorious nations create organisations called ‘League of Nations’ after the First World War and ‘United Nations’ after the Second World War. India has contributed significantly to the work of these organisations.

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. It is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. The UN is headquartered on international territory in New York City, with its other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna, and The Hague.

The UN was established after World War II with the aim of preventing future wars, succeeding the ineffective League of Nations. On 25 April 1945, 50 governments met in San Francisco for a conference and started drafting the UN Charter, which was adopted on 25 June 1945 and took effect on 24 October 1945, when the UN began operations. Pursuant to the Charter, the organization's objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; with the addition of South Sudan in 2011, membership is now 193, representing almost all of the world's sovereign states.

The organization's mission to preserve world peace was complicated in its early decades by the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. Its missions have consisted primarily of unarmed military observers and lightly armed troops with primarily monitoring, reporting and confidence-building roles.UN membership grew significantly following widespread decolonization beginning in the 1960s. Since then, 80 former colonies have gained independence, including 11 trust territories that had been monitored by the Trusteeship Council. By the 1970s, the UN's budget for economic and social development programmes far outstripped its spending on peacekeeping. After the end of the Cold War, the UN shifted and expanded its field operations, undertaking a wide variety of complex tasks.

The League of Nations was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 following the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War and ceased operations on 20 April 1946.

The organisation's primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, the arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe. The Covenant of the League of Nations was signed on 28 June 1919 as Part I of the Treaty of Versailles, and it became effective together with the rest of the Treaty on 10 January 1920. The first meeting of the Council of the League took place on 16 January 1920, and the first meeting of Assembly of the League took place on 15 November 1920. In 1919 U.S. president Woodrow Wilson won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as the leading architect of the League.

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