Revolt of 1857 : India’s First War of Independence

The Revolt of 1857,also known as “India’s First War of Independence”,is known to have caused serious setbacks to British rule in India.Although unsuccessful,it is known to have offered stiff resistance to British,repercussions of which included overhaul of administrative and economic machinery.

What caused the revolt?

The reasons for the revolt can be divided into economic,political and military.

 

Economic Reasons

  • Destruction of traditional economic fabric. Impoverishment of artisans.
  • Under new revenue settlement, exorbitant taxes were levied,which drove the peasants into the debt trap.
  • No initiatives were taken to modernize the means,which hit the sustainability chances of artisans,peasants.
  • Forfeiture of lands on non-payment of taxes.

Political reasons

  • Rampant corruption at local levels,leaving no stone unturned to enrich oneself at the cost of poor masses.
  • Interference in socio-religious matters,aggravated the public dissent towards the British.

Millitary reasons

  • Discriminatory policy towards Indian soldiers. The highest rank that an Indian soldier could attain was,Subedar.
  • Non-payment of salaries,for soldiers serving in Sindh/Punjab.
  • Act of 1856,required them to travel abroad ,which was strictly forbidden,citing religous issues.
  • Apart from that,eviction from property,poverty,constant struggles and revolts were other reasons.

Major players of the revolt

There were some exceptional leaders from various parts of Central and Northern India,who saw the revolt of 1857 through. General Khan from Delhi,Nana Saheb along with Tantia Tope from Kanpur,Hazrat Mahal from Lucknow against the Doctrine of Lapse,Rani Lakshmi Bai from Jhansi,among many other leaders.

Causes of failure of revolt

  • Absence of support from major portion of Indian territory. Revolt was concentrated in North India with no part played in Northeast or Southern regions.
  • Princely class and Indian intelliegentsia supported the British side,in supressing the revolt.
  • Lack of financial support.
  • Lack of central leadership,far-sightedness and poor organization.

Aftermath of Revolt

The jolt of Revolt 1857,reverberated far and wide in Britain administration,which resulted in the following.

  •  British crown took over the administration of India,from East India Co.
  • Policy of Divide and Rule was exercised rampantly,deepening the religious gulf among the public.
  • Army was reorganised. It was ensured that no chances of future revival of solidarity among Hindus and Muslim soldiers occurred.

The Revolt of 1857 didn’t exactly fit right into the criteria of “Firsts”,but given its scale,ideology and vision,it induced and sowed the seeds of nationalism and revived the quest to break free from the alien rule of British,in the general masses.

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