What were the Causes of the Great Revolt of 1857?

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What were the Causes of the Great Revolt of 1857?

Causes of the Great Revolt of 1857

The causes of the Great Revolt can be grouped into Political, Economic, Military, Social. They are discussed below:

Political causes

  1. The people of all classes became angry with the British due to the latter’s despotic policy of aggression adapted from the battle of Plassey to the revolt of 1857 A.D.Lord Dalhousie deprived the Indians from adopting a son by implementing his doctrine of Lapse. By this policy he occupied the princely states of Satara, Sambalpur, Nagpur, and Jhansi and aroused public sentiment against him.
  2. Apart from the princely states, the Santhals, Bhils, Khasis, Jaths and the Faraizis revolted against the British.
  3. The Indian sepoys of Bhopal were angry with the British since 1806 A.D. Because, they were deprived of the right to wear tikas on the forehead or turbans on the head.
  4. Clive introduced a double rule in the name of good government and brought famine in India.
  5. Wellesley’s Subsidiary alliance by which he grabbed different provinces increased political resentment.
  6. When the East India Company became sovereign and while Bahadur Shah II disowned his title as the ‘Mughal Emperor’, the Muslims became united against the British. The first Sepoy Mutiny took place in Vellore (1806), then it spread out in Bengal (1824), Sind and Rawalpindi (1844).

Economic causes

  1. P.J. Marshall has commented in his ‘East India Fortune’s’ that after the battle of Plassey, poverty in this country increased as the Government drained the wealth of India by taking away diamonds, gold, silver and other precious articles by indirect reforms in Danish trade and by Bill of Exchange.
  2. The Charter Act of 1833 A.D. gave the facilities to many other European companies like trading in India. In this way pressures on Indian economy went on increasing.
  3. The British used to take raw materials at a cheaper rate from India and sold the costly readymade goods here.
  4. Indian markets were full of Manchester clothes which ultimately destroyed India’s handicraft industry.
  5.  Besides the high rate of tariff and the ‘Drainage of wealth’ led to famines and epidemics in India.
  6. After the attainment of Diwani the cost of land revenue was also increased to a great extent.
  7. At the same time, the salaries of the Indians were much lower than that of the Europeans. One statistics recorded that when 98 lakhs pounds were spent for 3,15,650 Indians annually, a sum of 2356 lakhs 60 thousand pounds were spent for 51316 white officers. This economic discrimination was one of the main reasons of the great revolt.

Social causes

It is known from the text ‘Siyar-ul-Mutakherin’ that social discrimination took a bad shape on the eve of the revolt.

It is known from the works of Lieutenant Darn that the British officials had never mixed freely with the Indians. Indian entry was prohibited in restaurants, parks and clubs reserved for the British. Indian officers and general people had to suffer from racial and social discrimination in their courts and offices.

Military causes

Another cause of the revolt of 1857 A.D. was the growing resentment of the Indian army. There were many reasons behind such resentment –

  1. Low salary as compared with the British soldiers.
  2. Poor quality of food,
  3. Ill manners of the British battalion.
  4. Lack of promotion.
  5.  Sending of soldiers in faraway places across the ocean etc.

R.C. Majumder has said in his book ‘British Paramountcy and Indian renaissance” that the salary of the Indian soldiers was Rs. 9.00 per month. The Hindu soldiers were also angry for crossing the seas or Kalapani. Their religious feelings were hurt by it. Bipin Chandra commented that while the Indian soldiers consisted of 2,75,000 men, the Europeans were only 45,000 in numbers so numerically speaking the resentment of the sepoys led to an imminent revolt. On 29 March 1857 A.D. Mangal Pandey first revolted out of this anger and became a martyr (hanged on 8th April, 1857).

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