What happened to the Nawabs when the British established political power in India?
When the British established political power in India, the Nawabs and Rajas lost their authority and honour.
British Residents were stationed in all the courts to monitor the proceeding, thus undermining the authority of the Nawabs. The Nawabs' armies were disbanded and the freedom of the rulers was reduced. The revenue collected by the Nawabs was taken by the British and their territory was also seized.
Who was Nana Saheb?
Nana Saheb was the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II.
What did Nana Saheb want of the British?
When Peshwa Baji Rao II died, Nana Saheb pleaded with the British to give him his father's pension. The British refused to do so, as they had the military power to defeat Nana Saheb, in case he revolted.
What were the grievances of the Sepoys?
The Sepoys were unhappy about their pay, allowances and conditions of service. The new rules violated their religious sensibilities and beliefs. In 1824 the Sepoys were asked to go to Burma by the sea route to fight for the Company. The Sepoys refused to do so as they believed that if they crossed the sea they would lose their religion and caste. The Sepoys were severely punished for not obeying the British. In 1856 the Company passed a new law which stated that every new person who took up employment in the Company's army had to agree to serve overseas if required. The Sepoys were unhappy with this new law.
What were the reforms introduced by the British?
Laws were passed to stop the practice of sati and to encourage the remarriage of widows. English-language education was actively promoted. In 1850, a new law was passed to make conversion to Christianity easier. This law allowed an Indian who had converted to Christianity to inherit the property of his ancestors.
What is Sati?
Sati is a funeral practice among some Hindu communities in which a recently widowed woman would immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre.
What was the Sepoy mutiny called and when did it start?
The Sepoy mutiny started in March 1857 and was known as the First war for independence against the British.
What were the causes of the Sepoy Mutiny?
There were many causes for the Sepoy mutiny.
The policy of annexation created panic and a feeling of insecurity among the rulers of various states. Corruption and inefficiency in the administration further created political unrest and the Indians wanted to get rid of the British.
The continuous interference of English in the basic way of living, traditional beliefs, values and norms was seen by the Indian masses as threat to their religion.
The activities of the Christian missionaries, whose objective was to convert people to their faith, led to people's believe that the British Government wanted to eradicate their caste and convert them to Christianity.
The general discontentment grew rapidly and strongly among the Indian soldiers. Most of the Indian soldiers in the East India Company's army came from peasant families which were deeply affected by their impoverished status.
The Sepoys were convinced that the English were conspiring to convert them to Christianity. Superior civil and military officers abused the name of Ram and Muhammad. Idolatry was denounced. Hindu gods and goddesses were ridiculed. The Religious Disabilities Act modified Hindu customs. This act enabled a convert to Christianity, to inherit his ancestral property. All this created resentment among the people.
The Sepoys' emoluments were very low in comparison with those of the British soldiers and their chances of promotion negligible. The loyalty of the Sepoys was further undermined by certain military reforms which outraged their religious feelings. They had an aversion to overseas service, as travel across the seas meant loss of caste for them.
The introduction of Greased cartridges in 1856 sparked the fire. The government decided to replace the old-fashioned musket, `Brown Begs` by the `Enfield rifle'. The loading process of the Enfield rifle involved bringing the cartridge to the mouth and biting of the top paper. There was a rumour among the Sepoys in January 1857 that the greased cartridge contained the fat of cow and pig, the former sacred to Hindus and latter forbidden to Muslims. The Sepoys were now convinced that the introduction of greased cartridges was a deliberate attempt to defile Hindu and Muslim religion. This sparked off the Mutiny on 29th March 1857.
What was the incidence that triggered the mutiny?
On the 29th March 1857, a soldier by the name of Mangal Pandey of the 34th Infantry at Barrackpur rebelled by firing at an officer on command against the use of the new cartridges. This incidence triggered the mutiny.
Trace the rebellion from Meerut to Delhi.
On 9th May 1857, some Sepoys of the regiment at Meerut refused to do the army drill using the new cartridges. So, eighty-five Sepoys were dismissed from service and sentenced to ten years in jail for disobeying their officers.
On 10th May, the soldiers marched to the jail in Meerut and released the imprisoned Sepoys. They attacked and killed British officers. They captured guns and ammunition and set fire to the buildings and properties of the British and declared war on the firangis or foreigners.
The soldiers were determined to bring an end to the British rule in India and they wanted the country to be ruled by the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. So, the Sepoys of Meerut rode all night to reach Delhi.
As news of their arrival spread, the regiments stationed in Delhi also rose up in rebellion. British officers were killed, arms and ammunition seized, buildings were set on fire.
Triumphant soldiers gathered around the walls of the Red Fort where the Mughal Emperor lived and proclaimed him as their leader.
On 3rd July, 1857, over 3,000 rebels came from Bareilly, crossed the river Jamuna, entered Delhi, and attacked the British cavalry posts.
The Rebellion spread to many Indian states. The rulers of these states accepted the rule of the Mughal emperor again as they were threatened by the expansion of British rule.
The Mughal Emperor organised a confederacy of Indian states to fight the British.
Give a brief account of Tantia Tope.
Tantia Tope, like other freedom fighters, was one of the great heroes who fought courageously for India's freedom in 1857. Tantia, the name of terror for the English, was the one who shook the established niche of the British Empire. He was constantly fighting to win over the whole of India but unfortunately he was betrayed by one of his friend. The British caught hold of him and hung him to death on April 18, 1859. He is considered as one of the important freedom fighters of India.