What brought about the upheavals of 1857?
Why did the British regain control?
How would you characterize the uprising?
The upheavals of 1857 was a protest against the British by the Indians, and was known as India's first war of independence, and challenged colonial rule during the few months of the nineteenth century. There were many reasons that led up to the upheavals of 1857. There was a lot of military mutiny and resistance in early colonial India, but were rather uncoordinated. It all started when the British started adding a number of new provocations. The refusal of units to fight in Burma led to the passage of the General Service Enlistment Act of 1856, which required recruits to serve abroad, across the kala pani which means dark waters. Hindu tradition states that those who travel on kala pani will lose their caste and be outside the Hindu community. The soldiers were not happy because of their deployment to Burma, because they did not want to be caste outside their hindu community. The Afghan debacle where low castes were recruited, had also led the British to widen the circle of caste and regional groups from which they recruited into the Bengal Army, like the Rajputs and Brahmans. Also after the conquest of Punjab and Sind these soldiers lost their bhatta which means pay bonuses for services they performed abroad. Later on they also lost their prestige with the Annexation of Awadh in 1856.
Agrarian protests was another important part of the revolt. The loss of landed rights and money to urban traders led to discontent for the British. The British agrarian policy created trouble, and became unavoidable against zamindari and landholders who could not pay on time. This caused thousands of families and individuals to be thrown out of their estates and farms. Also due to heavy rates on land, many of the poor people could not afford and, therefore, were evicted from the land, because the British revenue demand was arbitrary and high. What I...
Bibliography: Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India (New
Delhi: Orient Longman, 2004)
Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy
(London: Routledge, 2nd Edn., 2004)
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