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Revolt of 1857 (For UPSC and APSC)

Revolt of 1857
Revolt of 1857

The Indian Mutiny of 1857-59 was a widespread rebellion against the rule of the British East India Company in India, which was a sovereign authority on behalf of the British crown.

The Uprising

It was the first instance of organized opposition to the British East India Company.

It began as a revolt by the sepoys of the British East India Company's militia, but the masses eventually joined in.

The revolt is referred to by various names, including the Sepoy Mutiny (by British historians), the Indian Mutiny, the Great Rebellion (by Indian historians), the Revolt of 1857, the Indian Insurrection, and the First War of Independence (by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar).

Political Causes of The Revolt

British policy of expansion through the Doctrine of Lapse and direct annexation was one of the political drivers of the uprising.

Numerous Indian kings and chiefs were overthrown, which caused other leading families to fear they might suffer a similar fate.

The adopted son of Rani Lakshmi Bai was not allowed to rule Jhansi.

The Doctrine of Lapse allowed for the annexation of Satara, Nagpur, and Jhansi.

Additionally annexed were Udaipur, Sambalpur, and Jaitpur.

Thousands of lords, officials, retainers, and soldiers were rendered unemployed as a result of Lord Dalhousie's takeover of Awadh under the pretense of poor governance. This action turned the obedient state of Awadh into a hub of unrest and intrigue.

Religious and social causes

There were grave fears about the fast advancing Western Civilization in India.

A modification in the law of inheritance in Hinduism in 1850 allowed a Hindu who had converted to Christianity to inherit his ancestors' property.

The populace believed that the government intended to evangelize Indians for Christ.

The legalization of widow remarriage and the elimination of customs like female infanticide and sati were seen as threats to the established social order.

The introduction of western educational systems directly challenged Muslim and Hindu orthodoxy.

Even the development of the railroads and the telegraph was met with skepticism.

Revolt of 1857

Economic Root

Peasants and zamindars in rural areas were enraged by the Company's strict methods of revenue collection and the high taxes imposed on land.

Many of these communities eventually lost the lands they had possessed for many generations because they were unable to satisfy the high revenue demands and pay back their obligations to lenders.

The problems of the peasants also affected the sepoys, who made up a sizable portion of the peasantry and had family links to communities.

An inflow of British produced goods entering India following the Industrial Revolution in England destroyed many businesses, most notably the textile sector in India.

Indian handcraft industry had to compete with inexpensive British machine-made products.

Army-related causes

Indian sepoys, who made up more than 87% of the British troops in India but were seen as less capable than British soldiers, started the Revolt of 1857 as a sepoy insurrection.

A European sepoy of equal rank earned more money than an Indian sepoy did.

They had to do their duties in locations that were far from their residences.

The General Services Enlistment Act, which Lord Canning issued in 1856, mandated that sepoys be prepared to serve even in British territory across the ocean.

The immediate cause

The Revolt of 1857 ultimately ensued as a result of the greased cartridges incident.

There was a dissemination of a rumor pertaining to the application of bovine and porcine fat in the lubrication of the cartridges for the recently introduced Enfield guns.

Prior to loading the guns, the sepoys were required to manually remove the paper covering the cartridges by biting it off.

Mangal Pandey
Mangal Pandey

Both Hindu and Muslim sepoys exhibited a collective refusal to employ the aforementioned objects.

Lord Canning endeavored to rectify the mistake by withdrawing the objectionable cartridges, although the repercussions of the incident had already been incurred. Instances of civil unrest were observed in multiple locations.

In the month of March in the year 1857, Mangal Pandey, a sepoy stationed in Barrackpore, demonstrated his refusal to employ the cartridge and proceeded to assault his superiors.

On the 8th of April, he was executed by hanging.

On the 9th of May, a group of 85 troops stationed in Meerut demonstrated their refusal to utilize the newly introduced rifle, resulting in their subsequent sentencing to a period of ten years' jail.

The focal points of the revolt

  1. The uprising extended across the entirety of the region, spanning from the vicinity of Patna to the borders of Rajasthan. The primary focal points of rebellion within these territories include Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Jhansi, Gwalior, and Arrah in Bihar.

  2. Lucknow served as the capital of the historical region of Awadh. Begum Hazrat Mahal, a prominent figure among the begums associated with the former ruler of Awadh, assumed the role of leadership during the insurrection.

  3. The uprising at Kanpur was spearheaded by Nana Saheb, who held the position as adopted heir to Peshwa Baji Rao II.The main catalyst for his participation in the revolution was the British's deprivation of his pension. The triumph was of little duration. The recapture of Kanpur occurred when the British forces successfully regained control of the city upon the arrival of additional troops.

Revolt of 1857 centres
Centres of Revolt

The uprising was quelled with severe retribution.

  • Nana Saheb managed to evade capture, while his highly skilled commander, Tantia Tope, persisted in leading the resistance.

  • Tantia Tope was ultimately vanquished, apprehended, and then executed by hanging.

  • Jhansi witnessed the leadership of Rani Lakshmi Bai, a twenty-two-year-old individual, who took charge of the rebel forces in response to the British authorities' rejection of her adopted son's rightful claim to the Jhansi throne.

  • She valiantly engaged in combat against the British military, although ultimately succumbed to the English army.

  • Gwalior: Following Rani Lakshmi Bai's successful escape, she was accompanied by Tantia Tope, and together they proceeded to Gwalior where they successfully seized control of the city.

  • Intense combat ensued as the Rani of Jhansi valiantly engaged in battle, exhibiting remarkable fortitude akin to that of a tigress. Ultimately, she succumbed to her demise, persisting in her fight until the very last moments.

  • The British successfully regained control of Gwalior.

  • In the region of Bihar, an uprising occurred under the leadership of Kunwar Singh, who was from the esteemed Jagdispur royal lineage in Bihar.

  • The concept of suppression and its relationship to revolt.

  • The duration of the Revolt of 1857 extended beyond a single year. The suppression of the event occurred by the midpoint of 1858.

Lord Canning officially declared peace on July 8, 1858, marking the conclusion of a fourteen-month period following the initial uprising in Meerut.

What were the reasons for the failure of the Revolt?

  1. Restricted uprising: despite the relatively extensive nature of the rebellion, a significant portion of the nation remained unscathed by its consequences.

  2. The uprising was primarily limited to the Doab region.

  3. The uprising did not witness the participation of the important princely kingdoms, namely Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Kashmir, in addition to the minor Rajputana states.

  4. The southern provinces abstained from participation in the aforementioned event.

  5. The rebels were devoid of competent leadership, resulting in a lack of direction and guidance. Despite their bravery, Nana Saheb, Tantia Tope, and Rani Lakshmi Bai were unable to provide comprehensive leadership to the campaign.

  6. Scarce resources: the insurgents faced a deficiency in terms of personnel and financial assets. In contrast, the English were consistently provided with a reliable influx of personnel, financial resources, and weaponry in India.

  7. The absence of middle-class involvement: The English-educated middle class, affluent merchants, traders, and zamindars of Bengal played a role in assisting the British in quelling the uprising.

Revolt of 1857
Revolt of 1857

Result of The Revolt of 1857

  1. The cessation of corporate governance: the significant revolt of 1857 stands as a pivotal milestone in the annals of contemporary Indian history.

  2. The uprising signified the culmination of the East India Company's governance in India.

  3. India was placed under the direct governance of the British Crown.

  4. The aforementioned proclamation was made by Lord Canning during a Durbar held in Allahabad, and it was officially announced on 1 November 1858 in the name of the Queen.

  5. Queen Victoria assumed control of the Indian administration, so establishing the authority of the British Parliament over the region.

  6. The establishment of the India office was intended to oversee the government and administration of the nation.

  7. Religious tolerance was assured and significant consideration was given to the rituals and traditions prevalent in India.

  8. An administrative alteration occurred wherein the post of the Governor General was substituted with that of the Viceroy.

  9. The recognition of the rights of Indian kings was acknowledged.

  10. The abolition of the Doctrine of Lapse occurred.

  11. The legal recognition of the right to adopt male children as heirs was granted.

  12. The process of military reorganization involved an increase in the proportion of British commanders relative to Indian soldiers, while the control over the armory continued to be retained by the English. A decision was made to terminate the prevailing influence of the Bengal army.

In conclusion

It can be inferred that the provided information supports the notion that the user's

The uprising of 1857 was an unparalleled occurrence in the annals of British governance in India. The movement managed to bring together many segments of Indian society to pursue a shared objective, albeit with certain limitations.Despite the failure to fulfill the intended objective, the insurrection served as a catalyst for the emergence of Indian nationalism.


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