There are many reasons for Britain leaving India. However, the economic and the military situation seem to have been the main reasons for withdrawal. American pressure also played a role.
The contention that India should be given back to the Indians did not set well with Churchill and the opposition, but they had little room for manoeuvre. The war had ended, and Britain was broke. The gap in the balance of payments at the end of the war had widened to 2.1 billion pounds (then $ 8 billion), roughly, the cost of administering the Empire for two years. Keynes had told [British Prime Minister] Attlee frankly that he was facing a ‘financial Dunkirk’ and the only option was to seek aid of around $ 5 billion from the United States. The funds available to repair wartime devastation would hardly benefit Britain; they were diverted to the nations which had hosted land battles, such as France, Holland and Belgium. The Treasury was all but empty, and the debts of Empire lay in the middle of it like an empty drain. An economic aspiration had started the British Empire. An economic reality would end it.
On 8 May , the Chancellor had announced that Britain would freeze further payments on all its war debts until the creditors agreed to reductions. The exchequer was more than 3 billion pounds in the red, thanks to the war; it owed Egypt 450 million pounds, Ireland 250 million pounds, Australia and New Zealand 200 million pounds each, and further enormous sums to Argentina, Norway and Brazil. But the largest creditor of all, with 1250 million pounds owed, was India.
The British government was feeling the cold sweat of a financial crisis that threatened to overwhelm it. The next day, Sir Stafford Cripps met the American Under-Secretary of State in Paris, and tried to persuade him to relax the terms of its $ 3.75 billion loan, of which Britain had only $ 1 billion left. By this point, the government in London was having secret plans drawn up in case the United States did not let it off the hook. These included a below subsistence ration of 1700 calories per person per day, and the conscripting of school children into agriculture work.
Indian Summer The Secret History of the End of an Empire by Alex von Tunzelmann
Apart from financial difficulties there were rebellions in the Indian Navy and Air force. The situation in the 2,000,000 man Indian Army was also deteriorating due to the influence of Subhas Bose’s Indian National Army. The Viceroy Field Marshal Lord Archibald Wavell warned London that he would need at least 5 divisions of white troops from Britain to put down any possible revolt by the Indian Army. The spectre of the 1857–59 uprising began to haunt the British. The British wanted to get out of India as soon as possible and if that meant leaving India to anarchy so be it. In fact FM Wavell sent a plan to London where he told them bluntly that British troops would be withdrawn by stages to the coastal regions of India by middle of 1948 and then shipped back to England regardless of what was happening in India. He informed the London authorities that British Empire in India would collapse by mid 1948. London sent Mountbatten to make the inevitable end of the British Empire look like a graceful exit.
Neither Gandhi nor the Congress party agitations forced British hands. It was the post war financial situation and the possibility of full scale military revolt due to the influence of Subhas Bose which led to the British exit from India.
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I did my school, college and parts of my University education in Kolkata. I got my M.Sc degree from Kolkata University. I went to USA in 1979 and got my M.S and Ph.D in Physics from University of Pittsburgh in 1984. I did my Post Doctorate in University of Southern California, Los Angeles and then worked as a Research Scientist in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Space Sciences Center of University of Southern California. My scientific work includes heavy ion-atom scattering, multiphoton ionization and heliosphere data analysis of Pioneer 10/111 and Voyager 1/2 deep space spacecaft and analysis of solar extreme ultraviolet data obtained from SOHO spacecraft. I have been a National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration (NASA) Principal Investigator from 2002 – 2007. I have been a member of a NASA awards committee to decide allocation of money to different scientists. I have also refereed scientific articles submitted to Journal of Geophysical Research and Astrophysical Journal.