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Causes of Revolt of 1857 in India

What were the main causes of the revolt of 1857 in India?

CAUSES OF THE REVOLT of 1857 or Causes of Revolt of 1857 in India
Revolt of 1857 causes
» The Indian Rebellion of 1857 is also called the Indian Mutiny, the Sepoy Mutiny, India's First War of Independence or India's first struggle for independence
» It began on 10 May 1857, as a mutiny of sepoys of the British East India Company's army. Sepoys in the Presidency of Bengal revolted against their British officers.
» Revolt of 1857 was the first expression of organised rebellion against the British East India Company in India
» The rebellion began on 10 May 1857 in the form of a mutiny of sepoys of the Company's army in the garrison town of Meerut.
» After the outbreak of the mutiny in Meerut, the rebels very quickly reached Delhi, whose 81-year-old Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, they declared the Emperor of Hindustan.
» The causes of the mutiny are hard to pin down and have been much argued about.
» Before the Rebellion, there were 50,000 British troops, and 300,000 sepoys serving in the East India Company military.
» The forces were divided into three presidency armiesBombayMadras, and Bengal. The make-up of these armies varied from region to region.
» In contrast, the Madras Army and Bombay Army were "more localised, neutral armies".
» The domination of higher castes in the Bengal Army has been blamed in part for initial mutinies that led to the rebellion.
» There were some changes in the terms of their service which may have created resentment.
» As the East India Company expanded, soldiers were now expected to serve in less familiar regions, such as in Burma, and also to make do without the "foreign service" remuneration they had got previously.
» Another financial grievance stemmed from the general service act, which denied retired sepoys a pension. This applied only to new recruits, but older sepoys suspected that it might be apply to those already in service.
» Also, the Bengal Army was paid less than the Madras and Bombay Armies, which increased their fears over pensions.
» The Indian Rebellion of 1857 occurred as the result of an accumulation of factors over time, rather than any single event.
» The immediate event which angered the sepoys was about the ammunition for the new rifles they had to use. The cartridges that were used in the rifles had to be bitten open. The Muslims were angry because they thought that the paper cartridges had pig fat in them. This was because Muslims believe that pigs are unclean. Hindu soldiers were angry because they believed the cartridges had cow fat in them.
» On January 27, Colonel Richard Birch ordered that no cartridges should have grease on them and that sepoys could grease them with whatever they wanted. However, this only made the sepoys believe that the stories about the cartridge having pork and beef fat were true.
» During the 1850s the British rulers continued to forcibly take some regions, ruled by Indians and made these regions (for example the kingdom of Agra and Oudh, part of the present-day Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was seized in 1856) part of the British kingdom.
» Lord Dalhousie was the Governor General who decided to do this which was against Hindu customs.
» They did not give any respect to old royal houses of India like the Mughals (nominally Emperors of India) and the Peshwas (the most powerful of the Maratha rulers, leaders of the Maratha Confederacy).
» The major events to constitute to it were as follows:


Main Causes of Revolt of 1857

» Induction of Enfield rifles in the army, the cartridge which had the fat of cow and pig. Hindu and Muslim soldiers protested against this.
» There was discrimination among the British and Indian soldiers. British soldier’s behaviour was rude against the Indian soldiers.
» The policies used by the British for territorial annexation [Doctrine of lapse, Subsidiary Alliance] angered the Indian rulers.
» There was fear that British were converting Hindus and Muslims in Christianity.
» The social reforms introduced by the British made some of the people angry.

What were the Causes of the Great Revolt of 1857?

» The causes for the revolt of 1857 was can be categorised under
1. Social
2. Economic Causes
3. Political Causes
4. Religion
5. Military and
6. Immediate causes.


» There was fear among peoples that Christian missionaries will convert them into Christian.
» Introduction of the cartridge which was believed to coated with pigs and cows skin which is strictly prohibited for Muslims and Hindu respectively.


» Zamindars were forced to collect heavy taxes from peasants and if they were not able to collect than zamindari will be passed to someone else which infuriated them and these are the people who mostly lead the revolts.


The introduction of the policy like Doctrine of lapse and Direct annexation.Which directly affected some of the famous kingdoms like Satara, Nagpur, Jhansi etc.


» There was a common resentment against social changes that British tried to bring with abolishing Sati, child marriage and promotion of education of the Girl Child which made Indians feel a change in their age-old religious beliefs and thus it was taken as a step to increase conversions to Christianity.
» The Indian of those times would prefer dying instead of changing their religion. Not that there were any inferences of conversion but the feeling of insecurity itself raise the tension got multiplied becoming one of the prominent reasons for the revolt of 1857 or the Sepoy Mutiny or the first war of independence.


» Discrimination between the Indian and the British soldiers. Indian soldiers were paid low salaries compared to his British counterpart; they could not rise above the rank of Subedar and were racially insulted.
» They were also grieved because of the refusal of British to pay Foreign Service Allowance (batta) while fighting in remote regions such as Punjab and Sindh.


» Immediate cause of the revolt was considered as Religious one. British Army interactions more often conflicted with religious sentiments and aspirations of Indian soldiers.
» Introduction of guns (Enfield) involving cartridges cover made up of cow and pig's fat put Indian soldiers angry. As, the cow is considered as holy amongst Hindus and pig, a taboo in Muslims. They got afraid of losing their religion.
» Soldiers were forced to and punished for refusing to go to a war in Burma (now Myanmar) as it involved sea travelling. (It was considered a bad omen in Hindus)
» A regiment had fought for Britishers in Afghanistan. They had to eat and drink anything that came their way to Afghanistan and to return. They were thrown out of their caste groups, under suspicion that they might have defied caste laws in Afghanistan trip.
» The acts of 1830 and 1856 regarding Christian Missionaries entry and activity in India made firm believe amongst soldiers that Britishers want them to convert their religion.

Frequently asked questions on Causes of Revolt of 1857

Who was the Governor-General of India during the revolt of 1857?

Charles Canning, the Governor-General of India during the rebellion. Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856, who devised the Doctrine of Lapse.

What was the main cause of the revolt of 1857?

Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 had diverse political, economic, military, religious and social causes. ... The spark that led to a mutiny in several sepoy companies was the issue of new gunpowder cartridges for the Enfield rifle in February 1857.

Why did the Sepoys rebel against the British and what was the result?

The annexation of Indian territory and the rigorous taxation on Indian land contributed to a revolt against British rule that began in 1857. The revolt started as a mutiny of Indian sepoys (soldiers) in the service of the English East India Company in Meerut, a town northeast of Delhi.

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