Chap 5. When People Rebe: 1857 and After Notes Class 8 History

Chap 5. When People Rebe: 1857 and After Notes Class 8 History. The notes are based on the chapter 5 of History NCERT book for class 8. Pdf of notes can be downloaded. Click here for notes of other chapters.

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1. Policies and the People

I. Policies’ Impact on Different People

  • The policies of the East India Company had diverse effects on various groups of people.
  • Kings, queens, peasants, landlords, tribals, and soldiers were all affected differently.
  • People resisted policies that harmed their interests or went against their sentiments.

II. Decline of Nawabs and Rajas

  • Nawabs and rajas saw their power erode since the mid-eighteenth century.
  • Factors contributing to their decline included residents stationed in their courts, reduced freedom, disbandment of armed forces, and loss of revenues and territories.
  • Some ruling families attempted to negotiate with the Company to protect their interests, but these pleas were rejected.

III. Annexation of Awadh

  • Awadh was one of the last territories to be annexed.
  • In 1801, a subsidiary alliance was imposed on Awadh, and in 1856, it was taken over.
  • Governor-General Dalhousie claimed that British rule was necessary for proper administration due to alleged misgovernance.

IV. The End of the Mughal Dynasty

  • The Company planned to end the Mughal dynasty, removing the Mughal king’s name from coins and relocating the king’s family from the Red Fort.
  • In 1856, Governor-General Canning declared that Bahadur Shah Zafar would be the last Mughal king, with his descendants referred to as princes.

V. Discontent Among Peasants and Sepoys

  • Peasants and zamindars resented high taxes and rigid revenue collection methods, leading to land loss.
  • Indian sepoys employed by the Company were discontent with pay, allowances, and service conditions.
  • Some rules violated their religious beliefs, such as the sea route order in 1824.
  • In 1856, a new law mandated that new recruits in the Company’s army must agree to serve overseas if required.

VI. Responses to Reforms

  • British reforms aimed at changing Indian society, including stopping sati, promoting widow remarriage, and encouraging English-language education.
  • Christian missionaries were allowed to operate freely in the Company’s domain and own land and property after 1830.
  • A law in 1850 made conversion to Christianity easier by allowing converts to inherit ancestral property.
  • Many Indians felt that the British were undermining their religion, social customs, and traditional way of life.
  • Some Indians supported changing existing social practices.

2. Through the Eyes of the People

I. Source 1: Vishnubhatt Godse’s Account

  • Vishnubhatt Godse, a Brahman from Maharashtra, wrote “Majha Pravaas.”
  • He met sepoys on his journey to Mathura who warned of an upcoming upheaval.
  • Sepoys claimed that the English aimed to eradicate Hindu and Muslim religions.
  • The English had a list of eighty-four rules, which were rejected by kings and princes in Calcutta.
  • Kings returned to their capitals in anger, and a date was set for a religious war.

II. Source 2: Subedar Sitaram Pande’s Memoirs

  • Subedar Sitaram Pande served in the Bengal Native Army from 1812 to 1860.
  • He wrote memoirs titled “From Sepoy to Subedar” in 1861, translated into English by Norgate.
  • Pande believed that the seizure of Oudh by the British created distrust among sepoys and led to plotting against the Government.
  • Agents of the Nawab of Oudh and the King of Delhi were sent to gauge the army’s mood and incite rebellion.
  • The rumour that rifle cartridges were greased with cow and pig fat caused excitement in the regiments.
  • Some argued that the English aimed to convert Hindus and Muslims to Christianity through the cartridges.
  • Despite the excitement, the Colonel recommended that Pande return home, believing the situation would resolve itself.

3. A Mutiny Becomes a Popular Rebellion

I. Popular Resistance and Its Development

  • Struggles between rulers and the ruled are not uncommon, but sometimes they escalate into widespread popular resistance.
  • Such resistance requires organization, communication, initiative, and confidence among people to challenge the existing power.

II. The 1857 Rebellion

  • In the northern parts of India in 1857, a massive rebellion against the English East India Company began.
  • This rebellion posed a significant threat to the Company’s presence in India.
  • Sepoys mutinied, starting in Meerut, and people from various sections of society joined the rebellion.
  • It is considered one of the largest armed resistances to colonialism in the nineteenth century worldwide.

III. Events Leading to the Rebellion

  • In April 1857, Mangal Pandey was hanged for attacking officers in Barrackpore.
  • Sepoys in Meerut refused to use the new cartridges suspected of being greased with cow and pig fat on May 9, 1857.
  • Eighty-five sepoys were dismissed and sentenced to jail for disobedience.
  • Other Indian soldiers in Meerut responded by releasing the imprisoned sepoys, attacking British officers, and declaring war on the British.

IV. Proclamation of Bahadur Shah Zafar as Leader

  • The sepoys chose the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar as their leader.
  • Soldiers from Meerut reached Delhi, causing regiments stationed there to rebel as well.
  • The emperor initially hesitated but was forced to accept leadership.
  • His call for Indian chiefs and rulers to form a confederacy to fight the British had significant implications.

V. Rebellion Spreads Across India

  • Smaller rulers and chieftains saw the opportunity to regain control of their territories under Mughal authority.
  • The British did not anticipate this development and believed the cartridge issue would resolve.
  • Widespread rebellion ensued, with regiment after regiment mutinying and people in towns and villages joining.
  • New leaders emerged in various regions, including Nana Saheb, Birjis Qadr, Rani Lakshmibai, Tantia Tope, Rani Avantibai Lodhi, Ahmadullah Shah, Bakht Khan, and Kunwar Singh.

VI. British Defeats and Outnumbered Forces

  • The British faced defeat in multiple battles and were greatly outnumbered by rebel forces.
  • The situation in Awadh was particularly dire for the British.
  • The rebellion’s growth instilled confidence in the people, leading to a widespread popular rebellion.

4. The Company Fights Back

I. Company’s Response to the Rebellion

  • Faced with the widespread rebellion, the East India Company decided to suppress it vigorously.
  • Measures taken included bringing reinforcements from England, passing new laws for easier convictions of rebels, and moving into the centres of the revolt.

II. Recapture of Delhi and Fate of Bahadur Shah Zafar

  • Delhi was recaptured from the rebel forces in September 1857.
  • Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, was tried in court and sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • He and his wife, Begum Zinat Mahal, were sent to prison in Rangoon in October 1858.
  • Bahadur Shah Zafar passed away in the Rangoon jail in November 1862.

III. Continued Resistance and Battles

  • The recapture of Delhi did not quell the rebellion; people continued to resist and fight the British.
  • It took the British two years to suppress the massive forces of popular rebellion.
  • Key events included the capture of Lucknow in March 1858 and the defeat and death of Rani Lakshmibai in June 1858.
  • Rani Avantibai, after initial victory in Kheri, chose death when surrounded by the British.
  • Tantia Tope escaped to the jungles of central India, continuing to fight a guerrilla war with tribal and peasant leaders’ support but was eventually captured and killed in April 1859.

IV. Encouragement and Defeat

  • Victories against the British encouraged rebellion, while the defeat of rebel forces led to desertions.
  • The British attempted to regain loyalty by announcing rewards for loyal landholders and assuring rebels that they would be safe if they surrendered and had not harmed white people.
  • Despite these efforts, many sepoys, rebels, nawabs, and rajas were tried and hanged.

5. Aftermath

I. Transfer of Power to the British Crown (1858)

  • The British Parliament passed an Act in 1858 transferring the powers of the East India Company to the British Crown.
  • A member of the British Cabinet was appointed as the Secretary of State for India, responsible for Indian affairs.
  • The Secretary of State had an advisory council called the India Council.
  • The Governor-General of India was given the title of Viceroy, representing the Crown.
  • This marked the British government’s direct responsibility for ruling India.

II. Assurance to Ruling Chiefs

  • Ruling chiefs were assured that their territories would not be annexed in the future.
  • They were permitted to pass on their kingdoms to their heirs, including adopted sons.
  • However, they had to acknowledge the British Queen as their Sovereign Paramount, becoming subordinates to the British Crown.

III. Changes in the Composition of the Army

  • Plans were made to reduce the proportion of Indian soldiers in the army while increasing the number of European soldiers.
  • Recruitment shifted from regions like Awadh, Bihar, central India, and south India to focus on Gurkhas, Sikhs, and Pathans.

IV. Treatment of Muslims

  • Muslims faced large-scale confiscation of their land and property.
  • They were viewed with suspicion and hostility by the British, who believed they played a significant role in the rebellion.

V. Respect for Customary Practices

  • The British committed to respecting the customary religious and social practices of the Indian people.

VI. Protection of Landlords and Zamindars

  • Policies were implemented to protect landlords and zamindars, ensuring security of their rights over their lands.

VII. Beginning of a New Phase

  • The events of 1857 marked the beginning of a new phase in Indian history.

6. A Case Study – The Khurda Uprising

I. Background of Khurda

  • Khurda was a small kingdom in the southeastern part of Orissa, established in the late 16th century.
  • Raja Birakishore Dev had to give up certain territories, including the Jagannath Temple, to the Marathas.
  • His successor, Mukunda Dev II, sought to regain these lost territories through negotiations with the British but was unsuccessful.
  • After the British occupation of Orissa in 1803, they did not accommodate his requests, leading to his deposition and annexation of his territories.

II. British Policies and Oppression

  • The British resumed service tenures in Khurda, affecting the lives of the ex-militia, the Paiks.
  • Excessive revenue demands, oppressive revenue collection methods, and unreasonable increases in demands worsened the situation.
  • Large-scale desertions from Khurda occurred between 1805 and 1817.
  • Short-term settlements with increasing demands, regardless of land productivity or farmers’ capacity to pay, were imposed.
  • Lands of defaulters were sold to revenue officials or speculators from Bengal.
  • Introduction of the sicca rupee, insistence on revenue payment in the new currency, rising food and salt prices, and absentee landlords from Bengal exacerbated the grievances.

III. Buxi Jagabandhu and the Uprising

  • Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mahapatra, also known as Buxi Jagabandhu, the hereditary Military Commander of the deposed king, became dispossessed and impoverished.
  • After surviving on voluntary contributions for nearly two years, Buxi Jagabandhu decided to lead an armed uprising.
  • Grievances included the introduction of the sicca rupee, revenue demands in the new currency, salt monopoly, and the auction of local estates.
  • The insensitive and corrupt police system also contributed to the rebellion.

IV. The Outbreak of the Uprising (March 1817)

  • The uprising began on March 29, 1817, with the Paiks attacking government establishments at Banpur, killing over a hundred men and seizing government funds.
  • Khurda became the epicentre, with zamindars and ryots joining enthusiastically, and a ‘no-rent campaign’ started.
  • British attempts to dislodge the Paiks failed.
  • On April 14, 1817, Buxi Jagabandhu and thousands of Paiks and Kandh tribe members seized Puri, declaring Mukunda Dev II as their ruler.
  • Priests of the Jagannath Temple supported the Paiks.

V. British Response

  • In response to the uprising, the British imposed Martial Law.
  • The King was captured and imprisoned, while Major-General Martindell was sent to clear the area from Paik influence.
  • Rewards were offered for the arrest of Buxi Jagabandhu and associates.
  • In the ensuing operation, hundreds of Paiks were killed, and some fled to the jungles.

VI. Subsequent Developments and Resolution

  • Buxi Jagabandhu sustained the uprising outside Khurda with the support of allies.
  • The British eventually adopted a policy of ‘leniency, indulgence, and forbearance’ toward the people of Khurda.
  • Reforms were introduced, corrupt revenue officials were dismissed, former landholders were restored, and the price of salt was reduced.
  • Ram Chandra Dev III, the king’s son, was allowed to take charge of the Jagannath Temple affairs.
  • The uprising had a significant impact on British administration in Orissa.

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