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TN Textbook Class XIl History SIVA PRASAD
THE GREAT REVOLT OF 1857
Political Causes . The discontent and disaffection manifested in the form of revolts against the British Government were not confined to the ruling chiefs and royal families alone. . On the contrary, the British rule was disliked by the people at large in any region when it was newly introduced. Anti-British feelings were particularly strong in those regions like Burma, Assam, Coorg, Sind, and the Punjab which were unjustly annexed to the British Empire. . The Doctrine of Lapse, particularly its practical application by Lord Dalhousie, produced grave discontent and alarm among the native princes, who were directly affected.
Economic Causes The huge drain of wealth, the destruction of its industry and increasing land revenue had become the common features of the latter half of the eighteenth century. The East India Company, after attaining political power, used it to fund the growth of British trade and commerce at the cost of Indians. The British damaged the Indian trade and manufacture by imposing a high tariff in Britain against Indian goods, and by encouraging all means the import of British goods to India. In England the ruin of the old handloom weavers was accompanied by the growth of the machine industry. But in India the ruin of the millions of artisans and craftsmen was not accompanied by any alternative growth of new industrial forms.
Social Causes The Englishmen showed an arrogant attitude towards the Indians. Indiscriminate assaults on Indians by Englishmen became quite common. . Also, a general alarm was raised among the Hindus and Muslims by the activities of the Christian missionaries The educational institutions established by the missionaries inculcated western education and culture in the place of oriental learning. The native population felt that were losing their social identity. Reforms were also detested by the orthodox sections of the society
Military causes . Discontent against the British Raj was widely prevalent among the Indian soldiers in the British army. . The Indian sepoys in the British Indian army nursed a sense of strong resentment at their low salary and poor prospects of promotion. . The British military officers at times showed least respect to the social values and religious sentiments of Indian sepoys in the army. The Vellore mutiny of 1806, a precursor to the 1857 Great Revolt, was the outcome of such tendencies on the part of the military authorities. Another important cause of the sepoys' dissatisfaction was the order that abolished the foreign allowance or batta when they served in foreign territories Thus the discontent was widespread and there was an undercurrent before the volcanic situation of 1857. All that needed was only a spark to set it a fire.
The Beginning of the Revolt The 1857 Revolt was sparked off by the episode of the greased cartridges. The new Enfield rifle had been introduced for the first time in the Indian army. Its cartridges had a greased paper cover whose end had to be bitten off before the cartridge was loaded into the rifle. . The grease was composed of fat taken from beef and pig. The religious feelings of the Hindu and Muslim sepoys were terribly wounded. The sepoys believed that the government was deliberately trying to destroy their religious and cultural identity. Hence they raised the banner of revolt
The Beginning of the Revolt . The events that led to the Revolt began on 29 March 1857 at Barrackpore. Mangal Pandey (a sepoy) refused to use the greased cartridges and single- handedly attacked and killed his officer. Mangal Pandey was hanged. The regiment to which he belonged was disbanded and sepoys guilty of rebellion punished . A chain reaction was set in motion. At Meerut in May 1857, 85 sepoys of the 3rd Cavalry regiment were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for refusing to use the greased catridges. Therefore, on 10 May the sepoys broke out in open rebellion, shot their officers, released their fellow sepoys and headed towards Delh
The Beginning of the Revolt . The following morning the rebellious army reached Delhi. The city of Delhi fell into the hands of the rebellious soldiers on 12 May 1857. . Lieutenant Willtashby, the officer in charge of Delhi could not prevent the mutineers. . Soon, the mutineers proclaimed the aged nominal king, Bahadur Shah lI of the Mughal dynasty as the Emperor of India. Very soon the rebellion spread throughout northern and central India at Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Banares, in parts of Bihar, Jhansi and other places.
Delhi The leadership at Delhi was nominally in the hands of Bahadur Shah, but the real control was exercised by General Bakht Khan. On the side of the British the combined effort of Nicholson, Wilson, Baird Smith and Neville Chamberlain enabled the recapture Delhi by September 1857 In Delhi, Emperor Bahadur Shah Il was arrested and deported to Rangoon, where he remained in exile till he died in 1862.
Lucknow . The principal person responsible for the revolt in Lucknow was the Begum of Oudh . With the assistance of the sepoys, the zamindars and peasants, the Begum organised an all out attack on the British . Sir Colin Campbell suppressed the revolt
Bihar . Kunwar Singh, a ruined and discontented zamindar of Jagdishpur near Oudh, was the chief organiser of the revolt in Bihar. . He fought the British in Bihar. Kunwar Singh sustained a fatal wound in the battle and died on 27 April 1858 at Jagdishpur. . Ultimately the 1857 Revolt came to an end with the victory of the British. Viceroy Canning proclaimed peace throughout India
Significance and Effects of the Mutiny . As far as the effects of the Revolt are concerned, it brought about fundamental changes in the character of Indian administration which was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown by the Queen's Proclamation of 1 November, 1858. . At the same time the Governor-General received the new title of Viceroy. Lord Canning had the unique opportunity to become the Governor- General as well as the first Viceroy according to the Act of 1858.
Significance and Effects of the Mutiny . Lord Canning proclaimed the new Government at Allahabad on 1 November 1858 in accordance with the Queen's Proclamation. The latter has been called the Magna Carta of the Indian people; it disclaimed any extension of territory, promised religious toleration, guaranteed the rights of Indian princes and pledged equal treatment to her subjects, Indians and Europeans . The Revolt of 1857 ended an era and sowed the seeds of a new one. The year 1857 is a great divide between the two landmarks in Indian history. .One was that of British paramountcy in the first half, and the other is that of the growth of Indian nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century