Answer :

The revolt of 1857 marked a very important place in the struggle for Indian independence. It was after that event, the common people of India entered into the phase of serious attempts to fling away britishers. There are different levels when causes of the great revolt of 1857 is analysed. They are:

a) Economic causes

b) Social causes

c) Religious causes

d) Political causes

e) Military causes

f) Immediate cause

a) Economic Causes:

1) The Britishers were economically exploiting India.

2) This created intolerance in all sections of society.

3) The high tax/ revenue system put the burden of debt on farmers.

4) The other working sections suffered from dishonest import and export.

5) Indian goods were purchased for cheap rates from the manufacturers and saled for huge amounts in world market.

6) The system of administration was so corrupt. And it created discontent among the people.

b) Social Causes:

1) The social reforms introduced by British included:

• the abolition of ‘sati’,

• legalization of widow remarriage and

• extension of western education

2) This generated problems among people especially to women as these social reforms were looked upon as examples of interference in the social customs of the country.

3) The social reforms initiated by the British were looked upon with suspicion by the conventional sections of the Indian society.

The social discrimination faced by the Indians due to the British attitude of racial superiority also led to much resentment. Educated Indians were denied promotions and appointments to high office. This turned them against the British.

c) Religious Causes:

a) The religious sentiments of the people were also insulted by the britishers.

b) There was a fear among the people that the British government was determined to destroy their religion

c) They also believed that the British and convert Indians to Christianity.

d) The policy of taxing lands belonging to temples and mosques also increased the fear of people.

e) The increasing actions of the Christian missionaries and the actual conversions made by them were taken as an evidence of this fear.

f) The belief that their religion was under threat, united all sections of society against a common enemy.

d) Political Causes:

a) The territorial annexations led to the dislocation of a large number of rulers and chiefs.

b) the british policies of Subsidiary Alliance and Doctrine of Lapse were very dangerous.

c) Rani Lakshmi Bai and Nana Sahib and led to the revolt against British in their respective territories.

d) In 1856, his kingdom was annexed by Dalhousie, Governor General of the East India Company on the grounds of internal misrule.

e) Awadh was the exact location for the beginning of the first great revolt of Indian Independence.

f) The annexation of Awadh, on grounds of misgovernment, was greatly disliked.

g) The annexation was widely seen as a rude act by the British.

h) It deeply damaged the sentiments of the Company’s sepoys because most of them came from Awadh.

i) the people of Awadh were continuously oppressed.

j) Peasants had to pay even higher revenue and additional taxes were made compulsory.

k) The British provided no substitute source of employment to the people who lost their jobs due to the suspension of the Nawab’s administration.

e) Military Causes:

a) The Indian sepoys were looked upon as substandard beings and treated with disrespect by their British officers.

b) They were paid much less than the British soldiers.

c) All avenues of the promotion were closed to them

d) All the higher army posts were reserved for the British and Indians were denied any promotions.

e) There were other specific and more immediate causes for the displeasure among the sepoys.

f) The annexation of Awadh irritated their strong feelings against foreign rule.

g) They were also influenced by the general fear that their religion was in danger.

h) The sepoys were restricted from wearing caste and sectarian marks hurt their sentiments deeply.

i) The Act of 1816 required the new recruits to travel overseas.

j) The Hindu sepoys defended this because, as according to the popular Hindu belief, travel across the sea led to a loss of caste.

k) Another cause of sepoy displeasure was the withdrawal of the Foreign Service allowance (‘batta’) ,which the sepoys were getting for fighting outside the country.

f) Immediate Cause:

a) Dissatisfaction and anger against British rule had been growing among the Indians for a long time.

b) By AD 1857, the stage was set for a massive revolt provided by as small a thing.

c) The whole issue began as a rifle cartridge.

d) The cartridges of rifles were covered with a greased paper cover.

e) This greased cover had to be bitten off before the cartridge could be loaded into the rifle.

f) The news spread that the grease was made of cow and pig fat.

g) Hindus considered the cow as sacred and the Muslims do not eat pit’s meat.

h) Both these communities became angry because of the clear attempt to harm their religion.

i) This incident, popularly known as the “Greased Cartridges Incident”, became the abrupt cause of the revolt.

j) The first soldier to protest against using the greased cartridges was Mangal Pandey.

k) He belonged to the 34th Infantry stationed at Barrackpore. He refused to use the cartridges and was afterwards hanged.

l) On 24 April 1857, some soldiers stationed at Meerut also rejected to use the cartridges.

m) On 9 May 1857, they were brutally punished for this.

n) This incident resulted in a general mutiny among the sepoys of Meerut.

o) On 10 May 1857, these rebel soldiers killed their British officers, and set free their imprisoned comrades and elevated the flag of revolt.

p) This was the official beginning of the ‘Great Revolt’.

q) The soldiers then marched to Delhi. On 11 May 1857, they reached Delhi. Here, they met the local infantry.

r) The rebels took custody of Delhi and declared the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar as the emperor of India.

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