False information is being shared in the name of secret clauses of the Transfer of power act
A social media post claims that the ‘transfer of power agreement’ contains some secret clauses, which are supposed to be kept secret till 2024. The post further claims that adhering to these secret clauses ‘India has been paying 10 billion rupees pension to Queen Elizabeth, since 1947’ . Also ‘under the agreement, India is bound to give 30 thousand tons of beef every year to Britain’. Through this article let’s fact-check the claim made in this post.
Claim: Since 1947, India has been paying 10 billion rupees pension to Queen Elizabeth ; India is bound to give 30 thousand tons of Beef every year to Britain. Fact: Transfer of power act is available in public domain. Further, there are no such secret clauses in the act, which are allegedly extended till 2024. Moreover, India does not pay any pension to Queen Elizebeth and there is no such provision of exporting beef annually to UK, as claimed. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.
There are no reports of any secret clauses enshrined in the Transfer of power act, as claimed in the viral post. Hence, there doesn’t exist a question of extending these secret provisions to 2024. Moreover, contrary to the claim made in the viral post, ‘Transfer of power act’ is available in the public domain and can be viewed here and here . Further, let’s look at each claim made in the viral post separately below.
Indian Parliament does not have the right to amend Articles 366, 371, 372, 395 :
Article 245 of the Indian Constitution empowers the Parliament to make and repeal laws, whereas Article 368 details the procedure to be followed with respect to amending the laws. Article 368 delineates the procedure to be followed with respect to repealing/amending the laws.
While Articles 366 , 371 , 372 , and 395 respectively deal with provisions of Scheduled Tribes, Special Provisions given to certain States, continuance in force of existing laws and their adaptation, and the Repealing of the Government of India Act 1935 and Indian Independence Act 1947 respectively.
However, in article 368, there is no mention of restricting the Parliament with respect to repealing/amending these articles, as claimed in the viral post.
India pays 10 billion every year to Queen Elizabeth:
Over the years there is no mention of any such payment to Queen Elizabeth in the budget documents ( here & here ). Every payment made by the government of India is documented in the budget document. No reference to such a transaction implies that GoI does not make any such payment. Further, we could not find any news reports which endorse this claim.
In fact, contrary to the claim made India has been receiving foreign aid from the UK. According to this 2018 news report , Britain was to donate over 1.17 billion pounds to India as foreign aid in the course of over five years.
India is bound to give 30 thousand tons of Beef every year to Britain :
As per the Export Policy, the export of beef , which includes meat and edible offal of cows, oxen, and calf, is under the prohibited category and not permitted to be exported.
It is the buffalo meat that is exported to other countries from India in the name of beef. According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority ( APEDA ) for the year 2021-22, beef worth 25,000 crores is exported to 66 countries.
However, in the past nine years, it is only for three years there have been beef exports from India to the UK. India exported 0.4 MT, 0.03MT & 29MT of beef to the UK in 2014-15, 2016-17 & 2019-20 respectively. This implies there are no consistent exports of beef from India to the UK, contrary to the claim made in the viral post.
Further, we could not find any reports that state that India should export beef to the UK annually, abiding by any secret clauses, as claimed.
To sum it up, false information is being shared in the name of secret clauses of the transfer of power act.
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- False Claims Question Nature Of...
False Claims Question Nature Of India's Independence From UK
A viral message cites a 'transfer of power agreement' to question the absoluteness of india's independence post 1947.
False claims have gone viral on social media questioning the absoluteness of India's independence from the United Kingdom (UK) citing a 'Transfer of Power Agreement, 1947'. This law, the claim says, inhibited India's institutions even after independence and was allegedly kept secret by the Congress party.
These series of claims are arbitrary and unrelated to each other.
BOOM did not find evidence for any agreement between India and United Kingdom, termed as a 'Transfer of Power Agreement'. India gained independence through the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the details of which are public.
Further, these posts state that this agreement curtailed India's authority to make amendments to certain sections of the Constitution of India. Further, the claim states India also had to pay a pension of ten billion rupees to the British monarch, export 30,000 tons of beef to the UK while its citizens still remained British subjects.
These social media posts have called for incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be voted back to power to reverse these changes.
The message can be seen below. BOOM received it on its WhatsApp tipline (7700906588).
Such posts are also highly viral on Facebook.
1. Is there any such agreement as the "Transfer of Power Agreement"?
The message cites the existence of 'Transfer of Power Agreement' due to which India's independence from the UK is not complete. Further, the claim alleges that this was deliberately kept secret at the behest of the Indian National Congress.
BOOM did not find any evidence to the existence of such an agreement.
The Indian Independence Act, 1947, which laid the foundation of India and Pakistan. This Act of British Parliament is public. Further, Part 7 of the Act clearly states that the British have no responsibility in the newly created states and that their legislatures would have full authority to create and change laws.
This Act can be found with the British government here .
2. Can't Parliament, the Prime Minister or the President amend certain sections of the Constitution of India?
The claims state that neither the Parliament of India, the President or Prime Minister can amend Articles 366, 371, 372 and 395 of Constitution of India. It remains unclear as to why the claim has singled out these Articles of the Constitution in particular.
These article relate the following:
- Article 366 outlines several definitions as used in the Constitution
- Article 371 includes special provisions for 11 states in India
- Article 372 dealt with the continuance of laws at the time of the enforcement of the Constitution
- Article 395 repealed certain Acts pertaining to India's pre-independence polity
While it is the prerogative of Parliament to enact laws with respect to the amendment to the Constitution, it is false that it cannot legislate on these four Articles.
Article 371 was amended consequently several times. As this Indian Express article explains, while Article 371 was inserted at the time of the formation of the Constitution, Articles 371A to Article Article 371J were subsequently inserted through Acts of Parliament.
3. India provides 10 billion rupees in pension to Queen Elizabeth
This claim is unclear, like the timeframe or periodicity.
However, BOOM could find no evidence that India is paying a pension to the British monarch; the incumbent being King Charles III.
To the contrary, India remains a recipient of British aid.
According to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), a British government watchdog on grant and aid given by it worldwide, India received £1.9 billion in aid from 2016 to 2020.
This figure includes £480 million in bilateral aid, including technical assistance, development capital and research. It also includes an estimated £679 million of aid to India through an imputed share of core contributions to multilateral organisations, largely through the World Bank and the multilateral Climate Investment Funds, which focus on clean technology. In addition, the UK contributed an estimated £756 million in India via replenishments to BII (British International Investment) ICAI
4. India must export 30,000 tonnes of beef to the UK annually
According to Indian laws, the export of beef is banned. This is defined as cow or calf meat.
However, the export of buffalo meat is permitted. This was outlined before Parliament in a reply.
"As per Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020, export of beef (which includes meat and edible offal of cow, oxen, calf) is ‘prohibited’", the reply states.
It can be seen here (triggers download).
Moreover, data provided by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Ministry of Commerce, buffalo meat exports to the UK is merely a fraction of what is being claimed if that is the source being considered.
In 2019 - 2020, buffalo meat exports to the UK were 29 metric tons values at ₹39.90 lakhs. However, there was no exports to the UK in 2020 - 2021 and 2021 - 2022.
These numbers prove the claim that India must export 30,000 tons of beef to the UK wrong.
This can be seen below and found here .
5. Are citizens of Commonwealth countries still British subjects?
No, as 'The Commonwealth' is an intergovernmental organisation of nations that were part of the British Empire, or are still dominions under it. It is possible to leave and rejoin The Commonwealth quickly, as Maldives left it in 2016 over allegations of political interference but rejoined it again in 2020.
The membership of this organisation is voluntary, regardless of the countries being dominions or full republics, like Singapore, India or South Africa, where the head of state (usually a president) is elected by the citizens of these countries. Countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand are dominions as the British monarch - represented through a Governor General - still remains the ceremonial head of these countries.
A British subject currently does not consist of citizens of countries who are part of the The Commonwealth. This can be seen here . The citizens of independent countries continue to remain citizens of these countries.
6. Why are Commonwealth countries represented by High Commissioners among each other?
While a country is generally represented abroad through an ambassador, when two countries share full diplomatic relations; a feature of the members of The Commonwealth is that they are represented by High Commissioners among each other.
The claims states that this is testament to the fact that member countries within the Commonwealth are not truly independent.
However, this is only terminological in nature, and the High Commissioner in each of these nations has full sovereign autonomy. This confusion between a High Commissioner and an ambassador was brought up in the British Parliament in 1965, when newly independent countries (from the British Empire) continued using titular High Commissioners to represent their countries in the UK and vice versa.
A Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, Geoffery de Freitas, a former High Commissioner himself, asked then Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home if High Commissioners superseded Ambassador in terms of power, status or authority.
"Quite apart from the difficulty of the juridical problem of ambassadors being accredited to a country with a different Head of State from ourselves, I should have thought that there was some advantage—as I think the whole House would feel—in maintaining the special title to mark the special relationship within the Commonwealth", the Prime Minister replied.
This can be seen here .
Historical revisionism is growing to be a prominent trend in the misinformation space. BOOM previously debunked claims that it was the British that had given Gandhiji the title of 'Mahatma'.
Also Read: Did The British Give The 'Mahatma' Title To Gandhi? A FactCheck
Do you always want to share the authentic news with your friends?
Why did the Union Jack not go down after the transfer of power in 1947, asks Chandra Bose
About the Author
The Bretton Woods Conference on July 22, 1944, where representatives from 44 nations met for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. Credit: Facebook
A sea change, with many long term consequences, took place in the US view of India between 1944 and 1947.
By the 1940s, India had many friends in the US. Important members of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, including vice president Henry Wallace, secretary of state Cordell Hull, presidential assistant Lauchlin Currie and state department political adviser Wallace Murray, lobbied strongly for India, as did the conservative Republican Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce.
Roosevelt himself pressed Britain for Indian independence. Henry Wallace exposed British responsibility for the Bengal famine. Republican Congressman Karl E. Mundt worked with Democrats to pass US law (PL 267) that would enable the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency to provide food assistance to India, though this was eventually prevented by the British refusal to allow it.
All this led Indians to believe that the US might influence Britain to repay her enormous wartime debt. In 1939, Britain stopped the convertibility of the pound sterling. Countries that exported goods to her could not remit the proceeds. These amounts, and the contribution, voluntary or otherwise, of various countries in the British Empire and Commonwealth to Britain during the War, comprised the blocked sterling balances of £3.35 billion.
India’s share of these by 1945 was about 45%, or £1.51 billion – the equivalent of $83.93 billion today. This was by far the largest of any country. India’s balances were made up of £546 million of her export earnings, largely to the US, held back in London, and £969 million withheld payment for the Indian contribution to the war, which included paying for the largest volunteer army in history, supplying food, munitions, military vehicles and other equipment to the Allies, including China.
The Indian government financed this by increasing taxation (by 1945-46 it was three and a half times what it had been in 1939-40), and expanding the money supply so that Rs 10.78 billion – 27% of the money the government raised – was financed by using this method. By 1942-3, Indian inflation rose to 70%.
Both Jeremy Raisman, finance member of the Government of India, and RBI governor James Taylor had undertaken that after the War these blocked balances would be refunded and be used for development. Accordingly, Jawaharlal Nehru was left to believe that this was possible ( Discovery of India ), and the Bombay Plan set out by India’s leading businessmen earmarked these funds to finance industrialisation.
The White Plan for the Bretton Woods institutions worked out a mechanism whereby the Fund, underwritten by the US, could unblock these balances. For long, Britain emphasised her obligation to repay India because it strengthened her case for US relief. But with the introduction of a specific programme to do so, British official circles were alarmed. Officials argued “that if the plan is adopted financial control will leave London and dollar exchange will take the place of sterling exchange”.
Accordingly, the important British adviser John Maynard Keynes set out to lobby the US administration to substitute Harry Dexter White’s transparent multilateral policy with secret bilateral negotiations with each country so that they could not ally with each other. This would give Britain greater control.
He succeeded. The White Plan was abandoned. At the Bretton Woods conference, India and Egypt attempted to raise this issue but were voted down by an alliance of the UK, the US and France.
Yet the issue resurfaced. The Anglo American Loan Agreement of 1945, ratified by Congress in 1946, provided the UK $3.75 billion but stipulated that the pound sterling would have to become convertible on the current account by July 15 1947.
So the Indian and Pakistani delegations negotiated with Britain in London on the sterling balances in 1947 on the assumption that periodic instalments would be repaid in convertible currency. According to the interim agreement concluded in London on August 14, 1947, between the UK and India and Pakistan, £35 million was released as the unblocked balance for the remaining four months of 1947. But the bulk of the balances of £1,160 million were to be subsequently released in annual instalments that would be negotiated in the next round.
Yet the Indians did not seem to have noticed how much things had changed. India-sympathetic US Cabinet members had all resigned or been sacked by Roosevelt’s successor Harry Truman, even as Britain became the principal US ally in the Cold War. The very agreement on which India had counted was threatened.
The Bank of England had already prepared to renounce the convertibility that the Indians and Pakistanis counted on. By April 29, several months before the British met officials in London, they were already working out how to avoid repaying India’s outstanding sterling balances; by June 23, a note had been circulated in the Bank of England discussing how convertibility might be suspended. By August 8, the Bank of England finalised the modality of the suspension of convertibility, deciding that Wilfred Eady, who was at the very moment negotiating with the Indians, after winding up the negotiations on August 15, would immediately go to Washington to coordinate with the Americans.
As it moved closer to defaulting on convertibility, Britain kept the US informed, and Lewis Douglas, the US Ambassador in London, lobbied for them to so do. Even before negotiations began with India and Pakistan, the UK secretly proposed to the US not repaying them or making her balances inconvertible.
Jawaharlal Nehru and Harry Truman waved to journalists upon their arrival at the Washington airport, October 13, 1949. Credit: Wikipedia
As soon as convertibility came into force July 17, 1947, Britain threatened that were she weakened by having to repay the sterling balances, she would not be able to provide the leadership that alone would prevent Western Europe from turning Communist and the US Ambassador believed this to be true . Finally as Britain embarked on default, she alerted the US as to the precise date. By the next day, August 19, the precise wording in the exchange of letters that would follow between the two sides had been worked out .
So convertibility only lasted for a little over a month. It began July 17, 1947. It was revoked on August 20, 1947, five days after the agreement was signed with the largest creditor, India – the day before Indian independence. This technical default on the Anglo American Loan Agreement actually had the effect of simultaneous default to those countries that held sterling balances that they expected to convert to gold or US dollars.
India’s dream of using her wartime loan to finance development went up in smoke.
I have earlier pointed out how this default enabled London’s post War revival as the global centre of finance.
But this change in US policy toward India was to set the stage for further developments. On April 4, 1949, secretary of state Dean Acheson heard British foreign secretary Ernest Bevin on how the US should deal with the Middle East and South Asia. Bevin’s advice, which Acheson took seriously, was that the central concern was oil, and to safeguard that oil, an alliance with Muslim Pakistan was all-important, not India.
This was echoed by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff report: “From the military point of view, the countries of South Asia, excepting Pakistan, have little value to the United States… (‘A Mission without Success’, Frontline, May 21, 1999)”. Accordingly, prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to the United States in October 1949 was met with a cool reception ( Inside the Cold War, Brands H.W. 1991). After Stalin’s death in 1953, India built up her relations with the Soviet Union, a process that culminated in the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Cooperation and Friendship of August 1971.
Kannan Srinivasan is a journalist and writer based in New York.