Revolt of 1857


Revolt of 1857 which emerged as a consequence to the policies of colonial rule shook the British empire in India to its very foundation .Its major causes,features and reasons for failure are analysed in brief below.

Major Reasons for Revolt of 1857

  • General service enlistment act required new recruits to serve overseas. However for Hindu Sepoy, crossing the sea meant loss of caste.
  • Introduction of enfield rifles with greased cartridges.
  • Conservatives were hurt by interference of British in Indian religious affairs like abolition of sati, conversion to Christianity.
  • Doctrine of lapse announced by Lord Dalhousie strained relations with native princely states. Bahadur shah lost the title of king where as Nanasabeh the adopted son of Peshwa BajiRao-II was denied pension. Wajid ali shah,nawab of Lucknow was overthrown on ground of maladministration.

Spread of Revolt of 1857

  • Started at Barrackpore in Bengal where MangalPandey refused to use new Enfield rifles.
  • Sepoys declared Bahadurshah-II as the leader after reaching Meerut.
  • Delhi under General Bakht Khan,Faizabad under Maulavi Ahmadullah revolted.
  • Beegum Hazrat mahal proclaimed youngest son of Nawab Wajid Ali shah,Bijris Qadr as nawab.
  • Nanasaheb was supported by Azimullah in Kanpur and tantiatope supported Rani Laxmi Bhai in Gwalior.

Features of Revolt of 1857

  • Revolt of 1857 witnessed Hindu Muslim unity.
  • South India remain unaffected by the revolt.
  • Educated middle class didn’t support as they considered the revolt as backward looking.
  • Different people referred to revolt with different significance,For savarkar it was first war of independence,for Benjamin Disraeli it was a National revolt. Historian R.C. Majumdar considered it as neither national, nor first war, nor a war of independence.

Reasons for failure

  • The revolt of 1857 failed due to superior forces of British,lack of leadership  and unity among Indians.
  • The native powers remained loyal to British.
  • There was crucial support of certain sections of Indian public to British authorities.
  • Revolting groups lacked resources compared to those of British.

Though revolt of 1857 cannot be called as a first war of independence,but has sowed seeds of nationalism and quest for freedom from alien rule.As a consequence to the revolt,company rule was abolished and administration was brought under crown.Army was reorganized and the policy of divide and rule furthered.

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