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Revolt of 1857

Revolt of 1857: The causes of revolt:

  1. Political Causes:
    1. Growing suspicion among native rulers over Lord Dalhousie’s policies of “Doctrine of Lapse” and Annexation of the Territories of Native Rulers
    2. Annexation of Avadh on the ground of “misgovernance”
    3. Disposing of Nawab Wazid Ali Shah, athe reigning ruler of Avadh
    4. Lord canning’s announcement to that Mughals would lose the title of King and be mere Princess
    5. Disbanding of the Pindaris and irregular soliders who constitued a large section among the army ranks
  2. Administrative and economic causes:
    1. Inefficient administrative machinery of the company
    2. Rampant corruption
    3. Racialism in civil and military administration
    4. Deprivation of the traditional ruling classes of their luxury due to the establishment of the company’s suzerainty over the Indian states;
    5. Introduction of new and revenue system which snatched the land from cultivator and gave it to the moneylender or traitor
    6. De-industrialisation of the country
  3. Military causes :
    1. Dispenser of Indian sepoys with alien rule
    2. Compulsion of the sepoys to serve at the cantonments
    3. Withdrawal of free postage facility to sepoys following the enactment of Post Office Act of 1854
    4. Debarring the foreign service allowance or batta for sepoys serving in Sindh and Punjab
    5. Racial discrimination.
  4. Social and Religious causes :
    1. Social discrimination of the British against Indians
    2. Spread of Christianity through missionaries
    3. Enactment of the Religious Dis-abilities act 1850, which enabled a convert to inherit his ancestral property
    4. Antagonism of the traditional Indian society into to the law prohibiting sati, child marriage and female infanticide.
  5. The Immediate cause: – Greased Cartridges: The government introduced a new Enfield rifle the Army. It’s cartridges had a greased paper cover which had to be bitten off before the cartridge was loaded into the rifle. It was believed that increase was composed of beef and pig fat. The Hindu as well as Muslim sepoys was enraged because the use of greased cartridges was against their religion and they feared that the government was deliberately trying to destroy their religion and convert to Christianity. The time to rebel has come.

Causes for the failure of Revolt :

By July 1858, the revolt was completely suppressed. Following factors may be the reason for the failure of revolt:

  • Lack of coordination and central leadership. The revolt was supposed to have started on May 31, 1857 as decided by Nana Saheb and his colleagues. But the Merrut incidence led to early breaking of the revolt
  • Lack of forward looking program.
  • Indian leaders lacked resources and experience as compared to British.
  • Lack of support and martial races of the North
  • British power have remained intact in the eastern, western and southern parts of India from where the forces were sent to suppress the revolt
  • Tacit support of certain sections of Indian public.
  • Limited territorial and base.
  • Many native Indian states, influenced by the example of powerful Hyderabad, did not join the revolt.
  • Sikh soldiers of the Punjab area remained loyal to the British throughout.
  • The aging Bahadur Shah was neither a brave general not an astute leader of people.

Impacts of the Revolt : The impacts of the 1857 revolt may be summarised as

  • In August 1850, the British Parliament passed an act for Better Government of India, 1858, which put an end to the rule of the Company. The control of the British government in India was transfered to the British Crown.
  • A minister of British government, called the Secretary of State, was made responsible for the Government of India.
  • The British Governor general of India was now also given the title of Viceroy, who was also the representative of the Monarch.
  • Marked the end of British imperialism and Princely states were assured against annexation. Doctrine of Lapse was withdrawn.
  • Marked the end of Peshwaship and the Mughal rule.
  • After the revolt, the British pursued the policy of divide and rule.
  • Far-reaching changes were made in the administration and increase of white soldiers in the army.
  • Total expense of the suppression of the Revolt was borne by the Indians.



A Brief Survey of the Major Centres of the Revolt of 1857
Centre Leaders British Officials who suppressed the Revolt Fate of the Leader
Delhi Bahadur Shah, General Bakht Khan of Bareilly regiment Nicholson, Lt Wiloughby, Lt Hudson Bahadur Shah deported to Rangoon, Bakht Khan died in battlefied.
Lucknow Befum Hazrat Mahal of Avadh Colin Campbell Escaped to Nepal
Kanput Nana Saheb, Tantia Tope, Azimullah Colin Campbell, Henry Havelock, Henry Lawrence Nana Saheb escapted to Nepal, Tantia tope was hanged, Azimullah died of illness.
Jhansi Lakshmibai Hugh Rose Died in battlefield.
Arrah Kunwar Singh William Tyler and Eyre died of wound sustained in the fight

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