As the British empire was expanding and growing in sub-continent of India, the more they faced rebellion movements. Even the Anti- British movement was started within the ranks of the sepoys or local troops which are trained and paid by British government. Although the British had taken over the Bengal and maintained a huge army mostly from the natives of North-east India, they still failed to control the mutiny against them and this instability results in the independence war of 1857.
CausesThe overriding fear of the sepoys during the period was that both Hinduism and Islam were under threat from British rule and once this theory was widely believed, the British could do little to convince them otherwise. The root causes of the war are:
- British with a army of 128000 local troops and 23000 british soldiers, march towards Afghanistan. The conquest of Sindh had already created problems because Hindus did not want to leave what they saw as " Mother India". By attacking Afghanistan, British government also made muslims soldiers unhappy because they don't want to fight with fellow muslims.
- The replacement of both Sanskrit and Persian by English as the official language in 1834 had further upset both the Hindus and muslims.
- Social reforms and measures had been imposed without consultation or care for local feeling.
- In 1852, British had introduced the "Doctrine of Lapse"; under which any local kingdom not having a direct male heir was to be taken over by the British.
- By 1857, there had been some prominent annexations , which had pleased neither Muslims nor Hindus
- The immediate cause of the uprising was the introduction of a new Rifle cartridge which was coated in both cow and pig fat in early January 1857. The main issue with these cartridges was that to load the Rifle , soldiers had to bite off the end of the cartridges which violated the religious sentiments of both Hindus and muslims.
End of Rebellion
Rani of JhansiOne of the most bravest and daring of the anti-british leaders was the Rani of Jhansi, who managed to capture Gwalior from the British and then died fighting the British army which came to recapture it.
British victoryWith that British victory against Jhansi ki Rani, effective and concerted fighting ended and the British were left with mopping up pockets of armed resistence. The ' Mutiny", ' Rebillion' or ' War of Independence', depending on how it was seen, was over officialy in August 1858.
Reasons of failureThe attempt to expel the British failed for a number of reasons:
Lack of commone causeThe most important reason was a lack of coordination and unity amongst the local population. The British army in the subcontinent had always relied heavily on local troops for the bulk of their army, although the sepoys were supervised by British officers. The Punjab and Sindh had been conquered by troops from Bengal and Central India. This meant that when, just a few years later, those same troops rebelled, the Punjab was not only uninterested in aiding the rebellion but sent men and supplies to help the British defeat the rebels.
Absence of alliance among rulersSome of the Main Indian princes and Nawabs also refused to make common cause with the movement and some even leaned towards the British. The new ruler of Kashmir, appointed by the British some years earlier, sent 2000 men to fight with the British. In the final analysis, the British managed to retain some vital allies and kept control over three-fourth of their territory. With their superior discipline and modern methods of fighting, the British were always going to win a short, limited war. The only hope the rebels had of winning was to persuade local rulers and the people to unite and fight against the British, something the local population was unable to do for another 90 years.
Difference in interests of Sikhs, Hindus and MuslimsThe Mughal empire had all but gone except in name and the local people were mainly interested in their economic and physical security. The concept of nationalism was almost completetly absent from the subcontinent and the British were able to play one community off against another very successfully. As the muslims had always been in a minority in the subcontinent. the need to unite in the face of a common threat was not a new concept. Added to this was the fact that it was mostly the muslim rulers and kings that the British were replacing with themselves or Hindu rulers. For these reasons, the muslims played a large role in the rebellion of 1857 and had as their immediate aim the restoration of the Mughal empire. This may have helped provide a common goal for muslims but many Hindus, Sikhs and Marathas were certainly not keen on the restoration of the Mughal empire. This also contributed to the lack of mass participation. To add to the confusion, some of the local rulers were fighting for the restoration and protection of their own rights, not for the Mughals.
Incompetent last Mughal emperor
Consequences of 1857 MutinyThe consequences of the war of independence of 1857 can be summarized as:
Putative rule of princes and nawabsThe results of the events of 1857 was that any British attempt to rule through local allies and friendly princess was abandoned.The British were now determined to take political and military authority into their own hands and rule the whole subcontinent. The subjects of this empire had to come to terms with the harsh new facts of existence. Some princes who had remained loyal to the British were not formally incorporated into the empire and were allowed to keep their thrones but no one was in any doubt regarding who was in charge.
Muslims received collective blowFor the proud Muslims, it was a collective blow from which it took a long time to recover. It was to take an equally long time for the British to forgive the muslims for what they saw as a mainly "Muslim Mutiny" and hostility against themselves and their rule.
Appointment of Viceroy
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