The Cabinet Mission of 1946 was a mission sent by the British Government, under Prime Minister Clement Attlee, to India in an attempt to discuss and resolve the issues surrounding the transfer of power from the British Raj to an independent India.
The three-member Cabinet Mission comprised of the Lord Pethick-Lawrence, the Secretary of State for India, Sir Stafford Cripps, the President of the Board of Trade, and A V Alexander, the First Lord of Admiralty.
The mission aimed to bring an end to the political deadlock that had been caused by the British government in its exercise of the powers granted to it under the 1935 Government of India Act.
The mission concluded that the demand of the Indian National Congress for a single unified India was incompatible with the aspirations of the Muslims, and therefore would not be accepted.
Instead, the Cabinet Mission proposed a three-tier federal structure, comprising of a union, groups of provinces, and provinces. It proposed that the union would handle just defense, foreign affairs, and communications and the provinces would be given complete autonomy.
The Muslim League accepted the plan, while the Indian National Congress rejected it and continued to press for a single unified India.
The Cabinet Mission was a significant step in the transfer of power from the British to the Indians. Its proposals provided a framework for the constitutional negotiations that took place in the months that followed.
It has been noted as both the most significant attempt at maintaining unity in India while it being divided and also as the last attempt at peace between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League.
Despite this, the mission failed in its attempt to bring a peaceful conclusion to the political divisions, and instead led to the eventual division of India into two sovereign states – India and Pakistan.
The Cabinet Mission is thus remembered as a failure, but nevertheless, it remains a significant marker in the history of British colonial rule in India, and a forerunner of the process towards Indian independence.