India wasn't given independent status on 15th August, 1947. India & Pakistan were given status of dominions under monarch George VI. Look at the wordings of independence act of India.

An Act to make provision for the setting up in India of two independent Dominion states, to substitute other provisions for certain provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, which apply outside those Dominions, and to provide for other matters consequential on or connected with the setting up of those Dominions.

But in contrast, 170 years ago same British empire didn't give dominion status to America as well rather America was given independent status without any allegiance with Britain either directly or indirectly. Look at the wordings of United States declaration of Independence

the united colonies of America are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

My question is

  • Why was India given dominion status instead of complete independent status unlike America?

  • Why was Britain reluctant to grant complete independence to India at all? Had something remained yet to be done then?

  • 3
    What Britain had to do with India might not be the right question to ask. She was forced to grant the US full independence but after that did everything she could to retain at least some influence against the push for self-rule from various parts of the empire. The Dominion status was invented as a compromise for Canada. The same thing happened to Ireland after its war of independence. It was untenable in the long run but the British were not prepared to “absolve” anyone from allegiance to the crown so easily.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 30, 2017 at 7:40
  • 6
    Britain did not give America its independence; the American colonists demanded it and won it by force of arms.
    – user15103
    Jun 30, 2017 at 15:25
  • 3
    After the statute of Westminster (1931) dominions were independent states from the United Kingdom. That is, if a dominion decided so, the British Parliament couldn't legislate for that dominion. In fact, Canada was also an independent state from the 1930s.
    – Pere
    Oct 27, 2018 at 15:04

3 Answers 3


Long story short, America had a successful revolution and India didn't.


America had the American Revolution and won independence through escalation of protest.

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. In alliance with France and others it defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War.


India was granted dominion status because organisations arranged talks with the then Viceroy of India which then formulated into the Indian Independence Act 1947 to grant said status:

The legislation was formulated by the government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten, after representatives of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Sikh community came to an agreement with the Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, on what has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or Mountbatten Plan. This plan was the last plan for independence.

Britain still needs trade, soldiers, and resources from its colonies and India was no exception, they played a huge part in the Textile Revolution and if they weren't going out without a fight, From Britain's perspective I'm sure they wouldn't need to be absolved all allegiance.

Indian colonization provided the key ingredients for the textile revolution (also called the Industrial Revolution) in Britain. The two key ingredients are cotton and markets. Cotton was massively imported from India, and with an abundance of coal in the U.K., it was processed to produce mass-manufactured textiles that were then exported back to India (and other places). That is the core of the Industrial Revolution that took the West to economic prosperity (source).

Note: as Sjuan76 points out in the comments, there wasn't dominion status back when the Americans were absolved, it started with the Canadian Confederation in 1867.


Thanks. Can you answer 2nd part - What are the reasons if possibly inferred, by which Britain was reluctant to grant complete independence?

Britain essentially wanted India to remain apart of the imperial defence and had hoped they would achieve that with self-governance by aligning both armies.

But the British still hoped that a self-governing India would remain part of their system of 'imperial defence'. For this reason, Britain was desperate to keep India (and its army) united. These hopes came to nothing (source).

Further Reading:

  • 4
    Also, at the time of USA independence there was not even the concept of Dominion, by the time of India independence it was well stablished.
    – SJuan76
    Jun 30, 2017 at 7:15
  • @SJuan76 So was there even a possibility that Britian could give dominion status to America assuming there was the concept of dominion then?
    – Mr. Sigma.
    Jun 30, 2017 at 8:49
  • 2
    That goes into "alternative history" and I believe it impossible to truly answer. You just cannot compare directly 1776 to 1900, except for very broad concepts. Maybe the experience of losing the USA colonies was what decided the UK to take a "softer control" approach, maybe it was just how society evolved, maybe it could have been worked out in 1776... take your pick.
    – SJuan76
    Jun 30, 2017 at 8:54
  • @Aghori The American revolution would have wanted more than dominion status, but like Sjuan said, that's alternative history and we can't judge whether that would have really been the case. Jun 30, 2017 at 9:11
  • 1
    Essentially resources was the main aim, I've updated the answer to align with your query. Jun 30, 2017 at 10:21

The Dominion of India existed as a transitory interim government formed after the formal declaration of Indian independence on 15 August 1947 which lasted until the enforcement of the Indian Constitution on 26 August 1950, which made India a republic ( Republic of India ). Until the adoption of the Constitution, India remained in a state similar to other Dominions such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and even had Lord Mountbatten serve as a Governor-General ( who acted as a representative of the British Crown ). This government allowed the governance of India until the basic shape of the new Independent India in the form of a Constitution and republican institutions could be formed and adopted, as well as allow the integration of the Princely States into India. While the Indian independence movement has a long history, the formal process itself was peaceful.

The United States of America, on the other hand, won its independence through a war ( the Revolutionary War ). Therefore, no transitory government under the British Empire was formed for the purpose of governing America until a Constitution ( the Articles of Confederation in this case, since the American Constitution was adopted later ) was formed, adopted and enforced.

EDIT: Peaceful here refers to vis a vis the overlord ( Britain in both cases ). The dissolution of the British Raj was marred by violence due to the Partition, forced annexation of Junagarh and Hyderabad, as well as the First Indo-Pakistani war fought over Jammu and Kashmir.

  • Will add relevant links and sources later, am busy right now.
    Dec 26, 2021 at 14:08
  • Not completely peaceful coughKashmircough.
    – James K
    Dec 26, 2021 at 15:00
  • @JamesK I was referring to vis a vis Britain, Kashmir isnt the only bit of violence either.
    Dec 26, 2021 at 15:01

Dominion Status means that the Dominion

  1. Has the British Monarch as head of state.

  2. In a member of the Commonwealth.

  3. Has the ability, using its own constitution procedures, to change 1 and/or 2 at any time it wishes.

Generally it was the wish and preference of the British Monarch and the British Government that each colonies should remain a Dominion, whilst recognising the democratic right of the Dominion to decide otherwise.

So the standard procedure is that a colony becomes a Dominion first and then it can decide for itself whether it wishes to change from that status to a Republic within the Commonwealth, or even a Republic outside the Commonwealth.

In the case of India specifically there was also the complication of partition (into India and Pakistan) and the position of the Princely States and Dominion status also provided a framework within which the precise structure of the independent nations could be progressively established.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .