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August Offer (1940)

Lord Linlithgow made the August Offer in August 1940.

It promised the establishment of an advisory council, to add more Indians into the Executive Council of the Viceroy. The second offer was to set up a representative Indian body, which would help frame the Constitution of India. The British asked for the support of Indians in World War II.

Background of August Offer

  • World War II broke out in 1939. Britain had declared war on Germany, in which the Indians were dragged without their consultation.
  • This didn’t go well with the Indian political groups.
  • The Indian National Congress condemned the move, and refused India’s cooperation in the war.
  • It directed the party’s legislators to resign from the provincial governments.
  • Without the support of Indians, the British would have made losses in the war. So, to get cooperation, Lord Linlithgow, the then Viceroy, made an offer on behalf of the British Government.


  • Indians’ right to build their own constitution was recognized through this offer for the first time.
  • Explicit offering of Dominion Status.
  • Viceroy’s Executive Council was enlarged.
    • Indians got a majority 8 of the 12
    • The British remained in charge of finance, home and defense.
  • The National Defense Council was also set up for advisory functions.

What were the proposals in the August Offer?

  • Dominion Status for Indians.
  • Constituent Assembly to be set up after the war to build its own constitution.
  • No future system of government was to be instituted without the support of religion groups and minority rights.
  • Proposal to increase the Viceroy’s council to increase Indian political representatives.

Responses of the Political groups to August Offer

  • Congress rejected the August Offer.
    • It felt this was just another attempt by the Britishers to deny India the rights that she naturally deserved – the right to complete national freedom.
    • Nehru called Dominion status as dead as a doornail.
    • The demand for dominion status was done a decade back, which was then replaced by the demand for complete freedom.
  • Muslim League wasn’t pleased, but still called it a progress.
    • It, however, wasn’t pleased with the fact that the British didn’t consult all the political groups for the proposal of expanding Viceroy’s Executive Council.
  • The Hindu Mahasabha was somewhat supportive of the offer, although it felt a little skeptical about the promises made about constitutional reforms.
  • After some months, most Indian political groups knew that the British were evasive and rejected the offer.
  • On a whole, the British objective of gaining Indian support for the war efforts failed miserably.

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