Saturday, August 13, 2011

Was the revolution a War of Independence ?

Divergent opinions have been expressed regarding the nature of the Great Outbreak of 1857. According to Dr. R.C.Majumdar, these vews may be broadly divided into two classes. Some think that the outbreak was really a rebellion  of the people rather than merely a mutiny of the soldiers. Others hold that it was primarily and essentially a mutiny of sepoy, though in certain areas it drifted into a revolt of the people.
The second view had a large body of supporters among Englishmen, immediately after the suppression of the mutiny. On the other hand, a large number of English writers, such as Norton, Duff, Malleson, Kaye and Ball subscribed  to the first view and represented the outbreak of 1857 as an organised campaign to drive away the British from India.
It is, however, important to note that a large number of contemporary Indian writers with high position in public life  held the second view, such as Kishori Chand Mitra, Sambhu Chandra Mukhopadhyaya,  Harish Chandra Mukherjee, and Sir Syed Ahmed. A Marathi writer Godse Bhatji also expressed similar views. Where as their descendants of the present day look upon the outbreak of 1857 as a general revolt of the people, who accused the Englishmen of deliberately misrepresenting the great popular rebellion as a mutiny.It is astonishing to note that even Dadabhai Naoroji remarked, " the people in India not only had any share in it (the mutiny) but were actually ready at the call of the authorities to rise and support them."
The London Times in July 1857, wrote, "Out of the whole population of thirty-four millions and a quarter, if not more than fifty thousand, joined the ranks of the insurgents and these are headed by chiefs of small note."     
"An analysis of historical examples would thus prove that a struggle for independence must have as it primary object the expulsion of foreign rulers, simply because they are foreigners."
Until 1957, the view that the outbreak of 1857 was the first war of independence in India when Dr. S.N. Sen has lent his qualified support,
"What  began as a fight for religion ended as a war of independence for there is not the slightest doubt that the rebels wanted to get rid of the alien government and restore the old order of which the king of
The revolt of 1857 was the most severe outburst of anger and discontent accumulated in the hearts of various sections of the Indian society ever since the inception of British rule in Bengal, following the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the Battle of Bauxar. British historians called it a "Sepoy Mutiny" and the Indian historians termed it as the "First War of Independence". Jawaharlal Nehru in his book "Discovery of India" described it as the Feudal Revolt of 1857 and added that "it was much more than a military mutiny and it rapidly spread and assumed the character of a popular rebellion and a war of Indian Independence".

Though the revolt was started by the Indian soldiers in the service of the East India company, it soon proliferated all over the country. Millions of peasants, aritsans and soldiers fought heroically for over a year and sacrificed their life so that others might live. Hindus and Muslims kept their religious differences aside and fought together in order to free themselves from foreign subjugationDelhi was the rightful representative." 
The impact of the Revolt
1. End of the rule of the Company
2. Alteration in the British Policy towards the Indian States
3. Conclusion of Peshwaship
4. End of the Mughal Rule
5. The Army was reorganized
6. India was economically exploited
7. Nationalism began to rise
8. Introduction of Policy of Divide and RuleThe impact of the Revolt : 9. End of the rule of the Company
10. Alteration in the British Policy towards the Indian States
11. Conclusion of Peshwaship
12. End of the Mughal Rule
13. The Army was reorganized
14. India was economically exploited
15. Nationalism began to rise
16. Introduction of Policy of Divide and Rule