India's Concerns about British Rule

Pages: 5 (1396 words) Published: April 15, 2003
The conflict and controversy surrounding events in India during the British occupation helped give rise to many conflicting ideas about British rule. Although they varied in degree, the ultimate ideas would question the authority of British dominance, overall.

Interpretation of Rebellious events during the nineteenth century between British and Nationalist writers, expose the differing opinion of the two groups. The British naturally aspired to downplay any acts of rebellion, while their Indian counterparts attempted to exaggerate the importance of these events, as a means of promoting the nationalist cause.

Indian concerns with British rule began to gain momentum as certain events taking place in British India were beginning to unfold against the British. Hearsay and other propagandistic elements had begun taking its place among Indians, quickly changing sentiment towards the British. One of these was the widespread belief that the British were preparing to dismantle the caste system and convert India to Christianity. Although this was

not factual, the subsequent actions of British officials did nothing to dispel the rumors, and Brahmins began to fearfully question British motives.

The rebellion in 1857 can be seen as caused by the accumulating grievances of the Sepoy Army of Bengal. Certain factors contributed to the deterioration of morale amongst the Sepoy army that was comprised of Brahmins and other high caste Hindus who assisted in promoting a "focus of sedition". The poor standard of British officers and the lack of improvement to the overall position of men serving in the army also increased insurgent tendencies. These military grievances which were significant were not themselves enough to incite rebellion, it took a perceived attack on the Sepoy religious institutions to trigger the rebellion.

English ignorance and indifference can also be seen in the distribution of the Enfield rifle. Its distinct ammunition required the bullet to be bitten before loading. Rumors that the grease used on the bullets was either from the fat of cattle or

pigs, which was disrespectful to both Hindus and Muslims, was interpreted as attacking at the core of the Hindu and Muslim

religious beliefs. These rumors unlike those regarding the conversion to Christianity and dismantling of the caste system did prove to be true, and the British withdrew the objectionable grease. These events account for the military aspects of the uprising which display the version of events accepted in official British circles. This version preferred by the British writers fails to acknowledge an unprecedented level of widespread unrest among ordinary Indians, who saw the British government's actions as disrespectful and indifferent towards long established rules and customs'.

Indian nationalists saw the causes of the uprising as not being caused by unhappy soldiers of the Bengal army, but as a reaction of the influential classes of India, which had lost trust in British authority.

Still other British saw the overall social situation and British administration as having no effect in causing the uprising. The popular beliefs of officials like Sir John Lawrence believed that the immediate cause of the revolt was the concerns held by Sepoys over the new ammunition for the Enfield rifles. However, he sees this as just the trigger incident, with the root cause being the long-term reduction in discipline in the army and the poor standard of officers in command, implying that British power begin to organize army discipline through the ranks.

The British standpoint was to regard rebellious events as a "Mutiny". Here again the British overlook the participation of the civilian population, who was also involved in varying degrees, of anti British activity. For most of the British writers and observers of the events, they agreed in calling it a mutiny for public relations reasons. The term mutiny does not carry the same emotive force...
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