Table of Contents
Revolution of 1857 –
In 1856, Lord Canning became the Governor General after Lord Dalhousie.
The most important event of Canning’s reign was the Revolution of 1857.
Indians never voluntarily accepted the British Empire.
Anti-British sentiment was present among many Indian kings and chieftains.
The revolution of 1857 started as a sepoy mutiny, however it was very widespread.
This was a watershed event in our history.
This was India’s first rebellion against the British, its reason is as follows –
1. Political reasons –
(a) Lord Dalhousie’s imperialist or merger policy –
Native kings were childless.
Dalhousie, in order to expand his empire, prohibited the practice of adoption by childless kings and annexed Satara, Nagpur, Jhansi to his kingdom.
By not giving adoption rights to Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and by accusing the Nawab of Awadh of misrule,
the kingdom of Awadh was also abolished.
There was a lot of dissatisfaction among the native kings.
By stopping Nana Saheb’s pension, Dalhousie had also made him an enemy of the British.
Tatya Tope was Nana Saheb’s commander.
(B)Insulting the Mughal Emperor –
The British removed the name of the Mughal Emperor from Indian coins, stopped paying pension and showing respect.
Therefore, dissatisfaction increased among Muslims and Indians.
(c) Dissatisfaction among the native kings-
The native kings were deprived of high positions, a feeling of dissatisfaction arose among the native kings.
(d) Misrule of the British-
The British administrative system was complex.
The rulers were ignorant of the language, politics and law of Indians.
Did not judge properly.
(2) Economic reasons –
Before the arrival of the British, India was considered the most economically prosperous country in the world.
As a result of the spread of British rule, they became the poorest countries of the world.
The British established a monopoly on Indian trade and destroyed domestic industries.
The economic situation became extremely deplorable.
Many soldiers became useless due to the merger of native states into the Company state.
(3) Social reasons –
(a) Interference in Indian social life by the British:
The Company government did many social reform works during its 100 years of rule in India.
Bating declared the practice of Sati, child murder etc. illegal.
Dalhousie recognized widow remarriage.
All these reforms were in the interest of Indians.
Indians, being conservative, were afraid that the British were spreading English civilization by destroying Indian civilization.
(b) Scientific inventions :
People got scared by the system of railway, telegraph, post etc.
These inventions were considered social interventions.
(c) Propagation of Christianity:
The British disregarded Indian customs and social rules.
The Indians realized that they wanted to convert them to Christianity.
(d) Arrogance of the British:
The British adopted an egoistic policy.
The British hated Indians and took forced labor from them.
He hated the customs and traditions of Indians.
4. Religious reasons
(a) Condemnation of religion:
Christian preachers openly condemned both Hindu and Muslim religions.
This hurt the sentiments of both the religions.
(b) Propagation of Christianity in educational institutions:
Christianity was propagated in educational institutions,
Christian missionaries opened many schools.
(c) Facilities for those who accepted Christianity :
Those who accepted Christianity easily got government jobs and other facilities.
5. Military reasons
The number of Indian soldiers in the company was more and the number of British soldiers was less.
Indian soldiers received less salary and allowances.
Britishers were appointed to high posts in the army.
British officers used to behave insultingly with Indian soldiers.
6. Immediate reason
Before filling the cartridges in the rifles included in the British Army,
the cartridge shells given had to be peeled with the teeth.
A rumor had spread among the soldiers that cow and pig fat had been used in the cartridges.
This hurt the religious sentiments of both Hindu and Muslim soldiers.
A wave of rebellion started in the entire country.
Beginning and end of the rebellion:
On March 29, 1857, in Barrackpur Cantonment, a soldier named Mangal Pandey, refusing to use greased cartridges, rebelled and killed a British sergeant.
He was given death sentence.
After this the soldiers of Barrackpore Cantonment revolted.
This information spread across the country like sparks of fire.
Soon soldiers also revolted in Meerut, Delhi, Kanpur, Lucknow, Jhansi and Bihar etc.
Rani Laxmi Bai, Babu Kunwar Singh etc. were the leaders of the revolutionaries.
But the British soldiers crushed the revolution very brutally.
results of the rebellion –
1. Reorganization of the British Army.
2. End of Company rule.
3. Change in government policy.
4. Changed policy in native states.
5. Birth of Hindu-Muslim animosity.
6. Increase in discrimination and hostility among the British towards Indians.
7. Rise of extremism.
Results of rebellion-
1. Reorganization of the army –
The British reduced the number of Indian soldiers like Rajputs, Muslims etc. in their armies, and increased the number of Sikh and Gorkha soldiers.
2. End of the Company’s rule-
Queen Victoria ended the Company’s rule and took the rule of India directly into the hands of the Count.
The Governor General was given the title of Viceroy.
3. Change in government policy-
Lord Canning read out the manifesto of Queen Victoria – Public facilities should be provided for the welfare of the people and at the same time do not interfere in the religious thoughts of the people.
4. Changed policy in native states-
Dalhousie’s usurpation policy was abandoned.
Indian kings got the right to adopt sons.
5. Birth of Hindu-Muslim animosity –
The rebellion of 1857 awakened the feeling of unity among Hindu-Muslims.
Which was dangerous for the British Empire.
Therefore, the British tried to create differences between the two communities.
6. Rise of extremism –
Extremism emerged in Indian politics. Later the militant movement started.
Reason for failure of rebellion –
1. Lack of capable leaders, unity organization.
2. Lack of a well-organized program to conduct the rebellion.
3. There were insufficient military resources.
4. Indians lacked organized programs for communication and exchange of ideas.
5. The time for rebellion was not appropriate.
6. Native rulers (Nepal, Hyderabad, Kashmir, Patiala) showed loyalty towards the British.
7. The rebellion was limited to North India only. ,
8. Intellectuals did not cooperate
Nature of the Revolt –
The Revolt of 1857 was an epoch-making event in Indian history.
This was India’s first freedom struggle.
Savarkar has described it as the war of Indian independence in the book titled “War of Indian Independence”.
At the time of the rebellion, the feeling of communalism had ended in India,
which was indicative of its national nature.
A feeling of dissatisfaction was growing in the hearts of Indians against the British.
That’s when the cartridge incident triggered a rebellion.
Thus, in 1857, Hindus and Muslims together took a stand against the British.
It was accepted to conduct the revolution in Delhi under the leadership of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah.
The rebellion took a national form under the leadership of Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh.
This can be called the first phase of the Indian freedom struggle.