The boiling dissatisfaction against the British led to a great revolt in 1857. The revolt of 1857 was called the “Sepoy Mutiny”, while Indian Historians named it the first war of Independence.

Background : The revolt of 1857

Through various methods of invasion and barbarous economic policies, the British established their colonial superiority in India. The dissatisfaction among different section of society often broke out in the form of revolts against British. Among those who revolted were chiefs and landlords embarrassed by the British.

Causes of the revolt of 1857:

Political cause: the British Land-revenue policies disappointed many chiefs and landlords. Some landlords organized revolt even before 1857. The British annexed territories on the basis of the subsidiary alliance and doctrine of lapse, and by discontinuing the titles and pensions of the rulers. They also dislodged and deposed many native rulers on the ground of misgovernment. The rulers included Lakshmibai, Nana sahib, and Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of awadh. All these caused uncontrolled anxiety among the people.

Social and religious cause: The British introduced many reforms such as legalization of widow remarriage. This created panic among the orthodox Indians. Caste norms were violated when people of different castes were thrown together in the army.

Economic cause:The economic policies of British caused widespread distress. Under new land revenue settlement, many zamindars lost their lands. They imposed high rates of taxes on peasants. The British policies ruined Indian handcraft and agriculture. 

Military cause: The rising discontent was reflected in the behavior of sepoy. The salaries and opportunity of promotion were not equal to British sepoys.

Immediate cause: In 1857, the Enfield rifle was introduced the army of company. The carriage used in this rifle had a greased cap. This cap had to be beaten off before use. This news spread like fire. The soldiers refused to use the carriage.

Outbreak of revolt of 1857:                           

On 29 March 1857, Mangal Pandey called upon his fellow soldiers to revolt against the use of new carriage. He was arrested and hanged on 8 April. Many soldiers were sent to jail for 10 years. This sparked off the revolt. Delhi became the Centre of the revolt. To suppress the revolt, British brought in forces from various regions of India.

In September British occupied Delhi and Bahadur shah was captures. The Mugal Empire came to an End. Later the revolt of 185 spread to other regions, including Kanpur, Lucknow, Arrah, Bareilly and Jhashi.

Why the revolt of 1857 failed:

The British had the support of strong government in England. They were also equipped with superior military techniques. The rebel leaders lacked experience and coordination. Because of this the revolt of 1857 failed in India.

Result of the revolt:

the revolt of 18857 had led to the end of company’s rule in India. The British crown announced the end of the company’s rule in India. Lord Canning became the first viceroy of India under the crown. It means that British crown rule India directly through the secretary of India.

Related article:

Fact file : Revolt of 1857

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