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The Independence Struggle of 1857



The many changes that Britain had brought about in the administration and the ways of life created considerable discontent; and there were many risings in various parts of the country from 1816 to 1857. This culminated in the Revolt of 1857, which shook the very foundation of the Company's rule in India. Inspite of the failure of this first large scale attempt to overthrow British rule, the revolt proved a turning point in India's history. The British parliament took over the entire responsibility for the government of India.

After nearly a century of British rule, the spirit of revolt was growing, especially among the feudal chiefs and their followers. Even amongst the masses, discontent and an intense anti-British feeling was wide spread. In March 1857, the Indian army at Barrackpore mutinied and this spread rapidly and assumed the character of a popular rebellion and a war of Indian independence.


By 1857 the material for mass upheaval was ready and required only a spark to set it afire. The episode of greased cartridges provided this spark and the revolt was started by Mangal Pande. Immediately the revolt engulfed North and Central India. On May 10, 1857 sepoys stationed at Meerut mutinied and marched to Delhi and proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, as the Emperor of India.

Causes for the Mutiny
The drain of Indian wealth to England.
Heavy and Severe Taxation on common people.
The new land revenue system ruined many peasant properties.
Doctrine of Lapse forced Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi and Nana Sahib to revolt.
The wide spread activities of Christian missionaries endangered religious sentiments.
Discrimination in the promotion of natives as against that of Europeans caused discontent amongst the sepoys.
Dumping policy of ready made goods in Indian Market and destruction of cottage industries

Reasons for Failure of the Mutiny
Absence of modern weapons and other materials of war against the large and well equipped Britishers.
Lack of co-ordination among the forces fighting in different regions.
Most of the Indian princes and chiefs did not participate.
Educated Indians believed only British rule can reform and modernize India.
General public did not actively participate.


Consequences of the Mutiny
End of the East India Company rule in India.
British Crown took over the Indian Administration.
Revolt paved the way for the rise of the modern national movement.