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Mutiny Memorial for Revolt of 1857

Context: The Mutiny Memorial, built in Delhi in 1863 to honour those who had fought from the British side in the Delhi Field Force, during the Revolt of 1857, later was re-dedicated to also honour those Indians who lost their lives fighting the British.

About the Memorial

  • The Memorial, which is a tapering four-tier red sandstone structure rising from an octagonal base on the Northern Ridge, is located a few feet away from an Ashokan pillar.
  • The structure is prolifically inscribed with written accounts of the revolt.
  • It was constructed in 1863 on the site of the artillery unit known as Taylor’s Battery, which bore the brunt of rebel fire and has an indifferent gothic design.

The Revolt of 1857

  • The revolt of 1857 was the conscious beginning of the struggle for Independence against the colonial rule of the British.
  • The revolt is also known as India’s First War of Independence, Sepoy Mutiny, etc.
  • The revolt began on May 10, 1857, at Meerut as a sepoy mutiny, initiated by sepoys in the Bengal Presidency against the British officers that eventually secured the participation of the masses.
  • It was fairly widespread but unsuccessful rebellion against the rule of British East India Company in India during the reign of Governor General Canning.

Causes of the Revolt

Causes Trigger behind the Uprising
Immediate Causes
  • The Revolt of 1857 was triggered by the use of new Enfield rifles which had cartridges greased with cow and pig fat.
  • This found great resistance from both Hindu and Muslim sepoys to use them.
  • Mangal Pandey’s refusal to use the cartridges in Barrackpore and his subsequent hanging led to constant chaos.
  • Also, the imprisonment of 85 soldiers in Meerut for similar refusal, sparked the Revolt of 1857.
Political Causes
  • The British policy of expansion through the Doctrine of Lapse and direct annexation was a major reason for the uprising.
  • The relocation and the transport of a number of Indian rulers and chiefs and annexations that included the annexations of Satara, Nagpur, Jhansi, Jaitpur, Sambalpur, Udaipur and Awadh led to growing discontent against the Policy of expansion.
Social and Religious Causes:
  • The rapidly spreading Western Culture and Civilisation in India was a major concern all over the country.
  • The Hindu law of inheritance was changed by an act in 1850 that enabled a Hindu who had converted into Christianity to inherit his ancestral properties, which was seen as an attempt to convert Indians to Christianity.
  • The introduction of the railways and telegraph was viewed with suspicion.
  • The abolition of practices like sati and female infanticide, introduction of western education and the legislation legalizing widow remarriage, were believed as threats to the established social structure.
Economic Causes
  • Peasants and zamindars, both were alarmed by heavy taxes on land and the stringent methods of revenue collection that often led to loss of their ancestral land.
  • Large number of sepoys belonged to the peasantry class and had family ties in villages, so the grievances of the peasants also affected them.
  • Following the Industrial Revolution in England, there was an influx of British manufactured goods into India, that ruined industries, particularly the textile industry and handicrafts of India.
Military Causes
  • Indian sepoys formed more than 87% of the British troops in India but were considered inferior to British soldiers and paid less than European counterparts.
  • They were required to serve in areas far away from their homes and across the seas. Crossing the sea was seen by many as losing the caste.

Predominant Leaders of the Revolt

Places of Revolt Indian Leaders British Officials suppressing the revolt
Delhi Bahadur Shah II John Nicholson
Kanpur Nana Saheb Colin Campbell
Lucknow Begum Hazrat Mahal Henry Lawrence
Bareilly Khan Bahadur Khan Colin Campbell
Allahabad and Banaras Maulvi Liyaqat Ali Colonel Oncell
Jhansi & Gwalior Lakshmi Bai &Tantia Tope Hugh Rose
Bihar Kunwar Singh William Taylor

Reasons for the Failure of the Revolt

  • Lack of coordination: The rebels were not organized, and there was no central leadership. This lack of coordination led to confusion and disunity among the rebels, which ultimately weakened their efforts.
  • Limited military resources: The rebels were not well-equipped or trained to fight against the British army, which had superior military resources, modern weapons, and a well-established command structure.
  • Limited geographical reach: The revolt was primarily limited to northern and central India. The lack of a wider geographic spread limited the scale and impact of the rebellion.
  • Lack of popular support: The rebellion did not receive widespread popular support. Many Indians, particularly the landed aristocracy, were not interested in challenging the British colonial rule.
  • British strategic response: The British quickly mobilized their military and logistical resources to suppress the rebellion. They also used tactics such as divide-and-rule, which exploited regional and religious divisions among the rebels.
  • Economic interests: The British were able to use their economic power to co-opt Indian elites and build alliances with them, which further weakened the rebels’ efforts.

Consequences/ Impacts of the Revolt

  • End of the East India Company’s rule: The revolt marked the end of the East India Company’s rule over India. The British government took over the administration of India from the East India Company and made India a British colony.
  • Changes in British policy: The British government implemented significant policy changes after the revolt, such as the end of the Doctrine of Lapse, which had allowed the British to annex Indian states, and the introduction of the Indian Councils Act, which allowed for greater Indian representation in the colonial government.
  • Political consciousness: The revolt gave rise to a new sense of political consciousness among Indians. It inspired nationalist movements and paved the way for the Indian independence movement.
  • Military reforms: The revolt exposed the weaknesses of the British military. After the revolt, the British government reorganized the Indian Army and recruited more European soldiers to reduce their dependence on Indian soldiers.
  • Economic impact: The disruption caused by the revolt led to a decline in agricultural production, and the British government introduced new economic policies to promote industrialization and increase exports from India.

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Revolt of 1857 also known as?

The revolt is also known as India’s First War of Independence, Sepoy Mutiny, etc.

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