Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Outbreak of Sepoy rebellion-1857-59

In his book 'History of the Freedom Movement of India' Dr. Ramesh Chandra Majumdar gave a detailed study of the 'Outbreak of 1857-8' in pages 144-275= 131 pages.
 There are other sources also to get detailed study on the subject.
Causes of Sepoy Mutiny:
There were several causes of Sepoy mutiny as termed by the British which had not been developed in a day or two. The main causes were the following;
1. Economic Causes; The general discontent grew rapidly and strongly among the Indian people in general and the indian sildiers in particular. In the East India Company there were different category of soldiers. One comprising of the British officers, in different ranks and general British soldiers. The other coprising of ordinanary Indian soldiers with Indian non-commissioned officers headed by the commissioned British officers.Most of the Indian soldiers in the East India Company's army came from peasant family, popularly known as 'peasant in arms', which were deeply affected by their impoverished status. Lot of partialities were done towards Indian soldiers in scales of pay and other allowances than their English counterparts.The adverse effects of the Industrial Revolutioonon in England caused the Indian economy to deteriorate due to the British economic policy in regards to their land and agricultural reforms and different tax procurements.Even the non-commissioned Indian officers such as subedars were no escape of this partialities. The British authority drained India of her wealth and her natural resources.
2. Political Causes;
British East India Company gained its control throut India in a span of 244 years 1612 (battle of Swally) to 1856 through Battles and by enacting laws. The policy of expansion pursued by the British created discontent among the princes. A number of Independent Kingdoms were annexed to the British Kingdom by simply enacting some laws. In 1843, Sind was attacked and annexed.Lord dalhousie annexed kingdoms whenever an occasion arose by the policy 'Doctrine of Lapse'. by this way he annexed maratha States satara, Nagpur and Jhansi, and several minor kingdoms.On the death of the ex-Peshwa Baji-Rao II the pension given to him was discontinued to his adopted son Nana Sahab.
Corruption and inefficiency in the administration also ld to political unrest and indians wanted to get rid of the British rule.
3. Social Causes;
The English administrators gradually became arrogant and there was a wide gulf between them and the Indian people.They could hardly know the feelings of the vast multitude of the people under their rule.There were , ofcoursesome good activities were done by them, such as  Sati Daha,female infanticide etc but their policies as a whole was not liked by the people of india.
4. Religious;
The activities of th Christian missionaries, whose main objects was to convert people to their faith and led to people's belief  to their own path.The passing of Act XXI of 1850, which enabled converts to inherit ancestral property.
The  introduction of Telegraph, raiways and the spread of western education, caused suspicion and fears in the people's minds. They were convinced that the English were conspiring to convertthem to Christianity. Superior civil and Military officers abused the name of Ram and Muhammad. Idolatry was denounced. Hindu God and Godesses ridiculed. The religious Disabilities Act modified hindu customs. This act enabled a convert to Christianity, to inherit his ancestral property. All these created resentment among the people.
The sepoys of the Bengal Army belonged to high castes of Oudh and the North-Western Province. Although the sepoys had fought and won many battles but they did not get a fair deal. Their emoluments were very low in comparison with those of the British soldiers and their chances of promotions were negigible. The loyalty of the sepoys was furtjer undermined by certain military reforms which outraged their religious feelings. They had an aversion to overseas service, as travel across the seas meant loss of caste for them.
6. Immediate; 
Discontentment was rampant among the Inidans and they were waiting only for an occasion to revolt. The introduction of Greased cartridge in 1856 rpsrked the fire.The Government decided to replace the old fashioned musket , 'Brown Begs' by the enfield-rifle.The loading process of the enfield rifle involved bringing the cartridge to the mouth and biting of the top paper. There was a rumour among the sepoys in January 1857 that the greased cartridge contained the fat of cow and pig, the former sacred  to Hindus and the latter forbidden to Muslims. The sepoys were now convinced that the introduction of greased cartridges was a deliberate attempt to defile Hindu and Muslim religion.This sparked of the Mutiny on 29th March, 1857.