India’s First War of Independence

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India’s First War of Independence

The First War of India’s Independence started with the Sepoy’s revolt. The Sepoy uprising of 1857 had started from the military camp and spread from one Cantonment to another till it was joined by ex-rulers and their supporters. That way, it can be called a Sepoy Mutiny. But this is not as simple as it appears to be.

The soldiers themselves were Indians and they had been receiving regular messages from their home about the changes that were taking place in the life of the people as and when the rule of a particular place passed on to the hands of the Britishers.

The soldiers from Oudh, for instance, were feeling very much agitated because they were hearing from their home about the misdeeds of the Resident and his men.

Thus, the soldiers were not detached from the Indian society as a whole. Their action was only a reaction of the social unrest in the country as a whole.

Was it a conspiracy of ex-rulers or a war of Independence in reality? It cannot be technically called a conspiracy of the ex-rulers because most of them had remained only passive observers even during the uprising.

They were no doubt dissatisfied with their fate but were conscious of their own weakness and as such they had not got the resources to organize any conspiracy against the white rulers. Laxmibai of Jhansi, Nana Rao of Bithur and Tantia Topi were, no doubt, taking the lead of the uprising but they themselves were not interested in such a revolt due to their sufferings, and the injustices that had been done to them.

They were, in fact, very much perturbed by the ever increasing interference of the Britishers in the affairs of the Independent rulers of India and as such, they were upholding the cause of the country more than their own.

It is, therefore, correct to say that the 1857 uprising was the first war of Independence as Vir Sarvarkar likes us to believe. No doubt, it was not popularly backed by the masses.

Was the first war of Independence really a common uprising against a foreign rule? One has to analyze the social life of the country and the political consciousness of the people of the time. Those were the days when the common man was interested in the problems of his bread and butter and was not, at all, interested in the government of the country.

They had tolerated the maladministration of their own rulers with a smiling face and could have borne the atrocities of a foreign rule without a grumble. The common man was really not interested in anything except his own profession because a farmer ruled by an Indian or a foreigner. But, to say that the laborers and farmers did not come forward to join the uprising is not correct as the soldiers came from these sections of the society only.

It is correct, therefore, to call it a common uprising against a foreign rule.

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