(Sample Material) UPSC IAS Mains History (Optional) Study Kit "Early Uprisings, Revolt of 1857 & British Policies after 1857"

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit

Subject: History (Optional)

Topic: Early Uprisings, Revolt of 1857 & British Policies after 1857

Wahabi Movement

It emphasised on the belief that Allah would soon send a Messiah, who would eradicate the social, religious and political evils and would purify and glorify Islam. The main aim of the Wahabis in India was to convert ‘Dar-ul­-Harb’ (non-Islamic territory) into `Dar-ul-Islam’ (Islamic territory). The British government termed the Wahabis as traitors and rebels. But the main aim of the movement was to reform the Muslim society and rejuvenate it. For the same purpose the movement also laid stress on the revival of Islam. Originally, the Wahabi movement was started in Arabia by Muhammad Ibn-Aba-e-Wahid. Being religious in content its main aim was to end tribalism and spread Islam. But the orthodox Muslims did not give it due importance and even opposed it. Shah Wali Ullah was the first Muslim leader in India, who expressed concern over the miseries of Muslims. After wardhis movement was shaped as Wahabi movement by Shah Abdul Aziz and Saiyid Ahamd Raebarelvi.

Sayyed Ahmed called it a holy war and toured all important cities and places of India. He chose Sittana in the North-western Province as the centre of his activities and organised a strong network of branches found it from Dhaka to Peshawar. In India, its main centre was in Patna. In 1831, after the death of Sayyid Ahmed ‘Raebarelvi’, Ali brothers of Patna, Vilayat Ali and Inayat Ali became the main leaders of the movement.After 1860, the British carried out extensive military operations against the Wahabis and destroyed their military outposts. Armed resistance by the Wahabis had come into being only after the revolt of 1857. The movement was fully suppressed after 1870.

Kuka Movement

The chief inspiration for this movement came from Bhai Ram Singh (1824-1885) a disciple of Bhai Balak Singh who was a simple and devoted person. His father Jassa Singh was from a poor family belonging to the Ramgarhia misl. Bhai Ram Singh had served in the Sikh army before the first Anglo­Sikh war. The ill-treatment meted out to Maharani Jindan, Diwam Mulraj and Maharaja Dalip Singh turned him against the British. He stressed on the need for recitation of Chandi Path, Guruvani, Nam Jap and Asha-di-var running langars and worshipping of cow. Bhai Ram Singh encouraged his followers to be self-dependent‘ He asked them not to admit their children in government schools, not to appear in courts of law, not to use foreign goods, railways or postal services. This way he was perhaps the first person to adopt the policy of non-cooperation against the British government.

He divided the area under his influence into 22 parts and appointed ‘Subedars’ and Naib-Subedar in them. He also constituted an independent spy system. He never used the roads built by the government. Instead Bhai Ram Singh was deported to Burma by the Third Bengal Regulation of 1868, where he died in 1885 at the age of 61.

Santhal Movement

Santhals were freedom-loving people. They lived in the southern part of the Chotanagpur plateau and tilled land for livelihood. Under the Permanent Settlement of 1793, the lands which the Santhals had been cultivating traditionally passed on to the zamindars. The Santhals then shifted to villages in the hills of Raj Mahal (now in Jharkhand State) but these lands were also claimed by the zamindars. The Santhals, however, soon found that the land they had brought under cultivation was slipping away from their hands. The state was levying heavy taxes on the land that the Santhals had cleared, moneylenders (dikus) were charging them high rates of interest and taking over the land when debts remained unpaid, and zamindars were asserting control over the Damin areas.

By the 1850s, the Santhals felt that the time had come to rebel against zamindars, moneylenders and the colonial state in order to create an ideal world for themselves where they would rule. It was after the Santhal Revolt (1855-56) that the Santhal Pargana was created, carving out 5,500 square miles from the districts of Bhagalpur and Birbhum. The colonial state hoped that by creating a new territory for the Santhals and imposing some special laws within it, the Santhals could be conciliated.

The atrocities perpetrated on the tribals took the shape of an unrest, which erupted, in the form of an armed revolt in 1855-56. The tribals of Bhagalpur, Manbhoom and Raj Mahal participated in this revolt.

Siddhu, Khanhu, Chand and Bhareo, four sons of Chulu Santhal of Bhagna Dihi Village of Raj Mahal district provided them the leadership. To suppress the Santhal rebellion the British army was put under the command of Brigadier General Lyold Colonel-Bird took over the ‘Special command.’

Revolt of 1857

Dalhousie’s annexation of Avadh on the ground of misrule in 1856. Dalhousie also announced in 1849 that the successors of Bahadur Shah II would have to leave the Red Fort. Canning announced in 1856 that the successors of Bahadur Shah would be known only as princes and not as kings. Refusal of the British to pay foreign service allowance (batta) while fighting in remote regions such as Punjab or Sind. Religious objections of the high caste

Resentment of the conservative and orthodox elements against the social reforms and humanitarian measures introduced by the government. Peasants Loss of their lands to the money-lenders due to the land and land­revenue policies of the British, particularly the Ryotwari system, and their system of law and administration (which favoured the moneylenders at the cost of the peasants).

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Causes of the Revolt

It was essentially because of the exploitative policies of the British that the feelings of unrest grew among the Indians which finally manifested in the form of a revolt in 1857. The greased cartridges only provided the much needed spark, which set the stage ablaze.

Political Cause

In 1852, an Inam Commission was established. Its objective was to take over the lands on which revenue was not being paid. More than 20,000 Jagirs were confiscated during the period of Lord Dalhousie itself intensifying the mushrooming discontent. The Indian princely states vehemently opposed the denial of the system of adoption by the British. Lord Dalhousie annexed several Indian states. States like Satara (1848), Jaitpur and Sambhalpur (1849), Baghat (1850), Udaipur (1852), Jhansi (1853) and Nagpur (1854) were merged with the British Empire by applying the dubious Doctrine of Lapse.

Nana Sahib was refused pension, as he was the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II. Lucknow was annexed in 1856. on charges of maladministration and Jhansi was annexed owing to Doctrine of Lapse. The government of the Company did not even leave the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah II. The Governor-General of India, Lord Ellenborough discontinued the practice of giving gifts to Bahadur Shah and struck his name off the coins. In 1856, the annexation of Awadh created panic and disaffection. The state of Awadh had been loyal to the Company throughout. But despite that Awadh was annexed to the English state on the grounds of misrule and administrative irregularities.

Military Discrimination

Indian soldiers were paid low salaries: they could not use above the rank of subedar and were racially insulted. The soldiers were also distressed by the fact that their cherished Awadh stale had been annexed by the British. In the General Services Recruitment Act of Lord Canning in 1856, there was a precondition for the soldiers recruited in the Bengal army by which they could be asked to go anywhere as per the requirement of the government. According to this Act, if required they might also have to go overseas, which was at that time considered irreligious.

Religious Discrimination

British social reforms (widow remarriage, abolition of Sati, school for girls. Christian missionaries). Rumours that Enfield rifles used greased (by pork or beef) cartridges. The increasing activities of Christian missionaries were viewed with suspicion and distrust. These missionaries made great effort to convert the people of India and also indulged in false propaganda against the practices of the Hindus and the Muslims. Christian priests were being appointed in the army on Government expenses to propagate Christianity and to undertake conversions. This was not the only rumour that was circulating in North India at the beginning of 1857. There was the rumour that the British government had hatched a gigantic conspiracy to destroy the caste and religion of Hindus and Muslims.

In 1850, Lord Dalhousie made changes in the Hindus inheritance laws by passing the Religious Disabilities Act. Till 1850, a convert to other religion, used to be disinherited from his ancestral property, but now even after adopting Christianity, his claim on property remained intact. The education policy, adopted by the British, also confused the common Indian. The government opened some schools for Western education. These schools were perceived to be instrument for increasing the number of the Christians. Indian soldiers were given the new Enfield rifles in place of the old iron­made Brown Bess gun. They were also given the cartridges to be bitten by teeth, which were thought to be greased with beef and pork. Actually, fat of cow and ox was used in the Woolich armoury.

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