Causes Of 1857 Sepoy Revolt - The First War Of Independence

The main reason was the ruthless exploitation of the Indian people by the British. The British rule which was formally established after the Battle of Plassey in 1757 in Bengal, the East India Company at the expense of the Indians in various ways. The East lndia Company was governed by greedy merchants and traders who could go to any extent to enrich themselves.

Peasant Struggles

To extract as much money as possible it devised new systems of land settlements - Permanent, Ryotwari and Mahalwari -each more oppressive than the other. The Permanent Settlement which was effective in Bengal Presidency and in large parts of north India did not recognise the hereditary rights of the peasants on land. The loyal zamindars and revenue-collectors were now given the proprietary rights on land. The cultivators were reduced to the status of simple tenants. But even the newly created landlords were not given absolute rights. Their situation was also deliberately left very precarious. They had to pay to the Company 10/1 lth of the entire rent derived from the cultivators and if they failed to do so their property was sold to others.
In all of these the peasants had to pay beyond their means and any adverse natural shifts like droughts or flood compelled them to go for loans to the money lenders who charged exorbitant interest. This made the peasants so heavily indebted that they were ultimately forced to sell their land to these money lenders. It is because of this that the money lenders were so hated in rural society. The peasantry was also oppressed by petty officials in administration who extracted money on the slightest pretexts. If the peasants went to the law court to seek redress of their grievances, they were bound to be totally ruined.

Attitude towards Princely States

The native state of Awadh was annexed by Dalhousie in 1856 on the pretext that Nawab Wazid Ali Shah was mismanaging the state by means of doctrine of lapse. Even before this he had annexed Satara in 1848 and Nagpur and Jhansi in 1854 on the pretext that the rulers of these states had no natural heir to succeed them after their death. These annexations embittered the rulers of these states, making Rani of Jhansi and Begums of Awadh staunch enemies of the British. This action hurt their patriotic loyalty and sense of dignity. Moreover, since had now to pay more taxes on land, it adversely affected the purses of the sepoys themselves.

Impact on Sepoys

The revolt of 1857 originated with the mutiny of the Sepoys. These Sepoys were drawn mainly from the peasant population of North and North-West India. As we have seen, the rapacious policies followed by the East India Company were impoverishing and ruining the peasantry. This must have affected the Sepoys also. Infact, most of them had joined the military service in order to supplement their fast declining agricultural income. But as the years passed, they realised that their capacity for doing so declined. The cost of maintaining an Indian Sepoy was only one-third of his British counterpart in India. Moreover, the Indian Sepoy was treated roughly by the British officers. They were frequently abused and humiliated. The Indian Sepoy, despite his valour and great fighting capacity. Could never rise above the rank of a Subedar while a fresh recruit from England was often appointed his superior overnight.

Social Reforms and Religion

The Government maintained the chaplains at its own cost and in some cases also provided police protection to the missionaries. Even the army maintained chaplains at state cost and Christian propaganda was carried among the sepoys. Furthermore, the sepoys were forbidden to wear their castemarks, and in 1856 an Act was passed under which every new recruit had to give an undertaking to serve overseas, if required. The conservative beliefs of the sepoys were thus shaken and they sometimes reacted strongly. The British were also interfered in social reforms like sati, widow remarriages, girl education, this hit them they were anti hindu religious.  

Rural Artisan Loss Employment

The introduction of cheap materials in Indian market and railways were penetrated into remote areas, will hit the rural handicraft artisans and loss of employment. They turned up to agriculture which causes heavy droughts in 1850 to 1900.
Causes Of 1857 Sepoy Revolt - The First War Of Independence Causes Of 1857 Sepoy Revolt - The First War Of Independence Reviewed by alltopindia on March 09, 2019 Rating: 5

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