Monday, 29 August 2016

Revolt of 1857 (Causes, Nature, Importance, Outcome)

Revolt of 1857 (Causes, Nature, Importance, Outcome)
The Indian Rebellion of 1857 refers to a rebellion in India against the rule of the British East India Company, that ran from May 1857 to July 1859. The rebellion began as a mutiny of sepoys of the East India Company's army on 10 May 1857, in the cantonment of the town of Meerut, and soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with the major hostilities confined to present-day Uttar Pradesh, western Bihar, northern Madhya Pradesh, and the Delhi region. The rebellion posed a considerable threat to East India Company power in that region, and was contained only with the fall of Gwalior on 20 June 1858.[6] The rebellion has been known by many names, including the Indian Mutiny, India's First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857, the Rebellion of 1857, the Uprising of 1857, the Sepoy Rebellion, the Indian Insurrection and the Sepoy Mutiny.


The causes of the Great Revolt of 1857 and Sepoy Mutiny may be divided into different sections

Political cause: Major political cause for the outbreak of the Revolt was the policy of annexation followed by Dalhousie. On application of the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ or on the ground of mis-governance he annexed states after states deploring their rulers. Satara, Jhansi, Sambalpur, Nagpur, etc. fill victim in his aggressive policy. All these states came under British rule. In 1856, he captured Oudh on the plea of misrule. He looked the palaces of Nagpur and Oudh. Not only the ruling house, but also the employees and other dependent families were deprived of their livings for the policy of Dalhousie. His maltreatment towards the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah-II hurt the sentiment of the Muslim community. Discontinuation of the pension of the Peshwa Nana Sahib shocked the Marathas

Economic cause: The Great Revolt of 1857 was also an outburst of grievances due to the economic exploitation of the company. India’s traditional economy collapsed as a result of the British ‘investment’ policies and revenue administration. The company’s trade policy destroyed Indian handicrafts. Huge numbers of Indians were thrown out of employment.

Military cause: The sepoys of the company regiment had been feeling dissatisfied with the English for various reasons. Thus was a great disparity in salaries between the Indian and European soldiers.

The Indian sepoys were treated with contempt by their European officers.

The sepoys were sent to distant parts of the empire, but were not paid any extra allowance.

Indian sepoys were refused promotion in service as like their European counterparts. Out of such discon­tent the Indian sepoys led to a mutiny.

The Great rebellion of 1857 (also Sepoy mutiny, Indian rebellion of 1857, First War of Indian Independence) lost its vigor after a few months and within a year it was completely put down by the government. This failure surprised many but it was not unexpected.

There was no planning and no organization. The risings at different places were loose and unconnected. Revolts at different placed did not take place at the same time.

As we said above, the aims of the leaders were different. Their only common aim was the anger against the foreign government. Nana Sahib wanted to restore the glory of the Peshwa; Bahadur shah wanted to restore the glory of the Mughals.

In many places the people were scared by the cruelty of the rebels.

The rebels fought with old-fashioned weapons while the British used all modern weapons. That is why the rebels had few chances of success. Moreover, we must also refer to the support given to the government by the Sikhs, the Gorkhas and the Rajputs.

The rules of Kashmir, Rajasthan and Patiala helped the British government.

Importance and Outcome of the Great Revolt of 1857
It can be said that the great revolt of 1857 A.D. was a failure, but was not fruitless.

1. United Effort: From this revolt, we can have a picture of India’s struggle for keeping the rights. There were several revolts before this, but there was no feeling of Indian-ness in those revolts. The revolt of 1857 A.D. was a collected effort of different sections of people.

2. Awakening of Peasants class: The peasants joined this revolt which was out and out against the British. This was unique.

3. Development of National Feeling: Dr. K. M Panikkar wrote that though the sepoys had limitations and weaknesses, but their efforts to make India free from British rule was patriotic work and a progressive step. If we do not consider any historical event on the basis of its success then the revolt of 1857 A.D. was never a tragedy. Even inspite of failure that served a great purpose, it was a source of inspiration in India’s freedom struggle.

4. End of Company Rule: The political result of this great revolt was the end of company’s rule in India. By a new act introduced in the British Parliament British government took the charge to rule India. From then onward a Viceroy as a representative of British King ruled India.

5. Queen’s proclamation: The Queen’s Proclamation showered many promises in 1858 A.D. Government service was promised irrespective of cast, religion and on the basis of merit only. Ill framed “doctrine of lapse” of Lord Dalhousie was cancelled. New recruitment policy of the army men was announced to see that they could not organize any revolt. In the important positions of the government no native people (Indian) was given any chance.

Leaders of Revolt of 1857
Some of the leaders of the rebellion were-

1. Rani Lakshmibai [Jhansi],
2. Kunwar Singh [Bihar],
3. Bahadur Shah [Delhi],
4. Nana Saheb [Kanpur],
5. Tatia Tope [Kanpur],
6. Begum Hazrat Mahal [Lucknow].

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