On August 20th, 1917, Edwin Montagu declared in the House of Commons that: “the policy of His Majesty's Government … is that of the … gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire.” This announcement, more than any other single event, may properly be described as signalling the creation of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms and the breakup of the third British Empire. It affirmed that a nonwhite portion of the empire could aspire to the same goal of self-government as the white colonies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa had successively achieved.

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