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Sepoy Mutiny of 1857

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Ali Walsh

on 7 March 2013

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Transcript of Sepoy Mutiny of 1857

Results of
the Conflict Religious Short Term Cause The British interfered with many social customs of India; two of the most prominent being the legalization of widow remarriage and offering education to women. Social Economic Military Political Long-Term
Causes What Happened Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 Though the Rebellion was quashed in approximately 6 months, it did have many lasting effects. The biggest fear the Indians had was that the British were trying to destroy their culture and force them into Christianity. The rebellion erupted on May 10, 1857 in Meerut. The mutiny started in the Bengal army. Political
Religious Within a few days, The Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II was restored to power by the soldiers. There were three key areas where the mutiny took place: Meerut/Delhi, Cawnpore and Lucknow. The rebellion started in Meerut and spread into Delhi within a day. Mutiny then reached Cawnpore, where the 'Cawnpore Massacre occurred'. 210 European men, women and children were imprisoned and killed. The sepoys rebelled in Lucknow on June 4. The rebels faced the British soldiers and although they killed their leader, the sepoys were ultimately unsuccessful and the fighting stopped by the end of the year. By this point, the rebellion was essentially over. Little battles and disputes continued over the next year and a half. Eventually, in 1859, the fighting ended and the British regained complete control over India. The British had policies allowing them to conduct territorial annexations The peasants were required to pay heavy land taxes, especially in Awadh, which they could not keep up with. Sepoys formed seven-eighths of the British troops in India. Regardless of their numbers, they were seen as inferior by the British soldiers and were treated with contempt. They were also paid much less than the British officers. This made them feel even more inferior and caused resentment towards the British. Sepoys had no opportunities to advance in their career, as all promotions into higher positions were reserved for the British officers. They were forbidden from from wearing caste and sectarian marks. Religion was considered very important in that time and this order deeply hurt the sepoys. They were often required to travel overseas if needed which was considered sacrilegious to some Sepoy soldiers. The British had a policy which allowed them to economically exploit the land. This caused great discontent throughout India. Peasants could not keep up with high revenue demands in addition to taxes. Cheap and manufactured goods brought from Britain caused harm to artisans and craftsmen as their products were less desirable and more costly in comparison. Due to the withdrawal of royal patronage, those who made a living from religious and cultural pursuits lost their way of life. The British also had a very ethnocentric view towards the Indians which caused even greater resentment towards them. Even educated Indians were denied positions in high office as these spots were reserved for the British. This was similar to the paranoia the 13 colonies experienced leading up to the American War of Independence. The Indians, however, had much evidence proving their paranoia could be correct. The number of Indians being converted by missionaries was on the rise. The British gave themselves the right to tax land owned by temples and mosques. This emphasized the fear of the Indians that their religion was starting to fade. Religion may be the biggest and most extended factor that contributed to the rise of the Sepoy Mutiny. The fear that their religion might be taken away from them brought the Indians together and allowed them to provide a united front against the British. The main short-term cause of the Sepoy mutiny was the introduction of a new type of rifle for the Sepoy soldiers. This rifle had a different type of loading procedure. The loading of the gun was done by biting a cartridge covered in greased paper, and the grease was usually made of cow or pig fat. Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and pigs are considered unclean in the Muslim religion, so this new rifle caused great discontent for the Sepoys. The sepoys saw this new rifle as a blatant attack on their religions and a way to convert them into Christianity once and for all. These new rifles were the last straw and they lit the fuse for the rebellion. In outrage, a Sepoy attacked a British officer for forcing the Sepoys to use the guns on March 29, 1857. The British actually recognized the oppression and resentment the Sepoys had to deal with, and lessened it dramatically. The British gave some power to the Sepoy rulers, including control over Civil Law. The British allowed the Sepoys to be included in the central legislature, fix land rent and remove/add taxes. In 1858, Britain passed a law transferring power from the East India Company to the Crown and its representatives therein. Though the Sepoys were heavily outnumbered in their fight for justice, this rebellion marked a monumental feat in India's history. It was the first spark for independence in India and is widely regarded as the country's first war of independence. 90 years after the Sepoy Rebellion, India finally won it's independence from Britain. In 2007 the Indian gov. commemorated the 150th anniversary of this battle. The financial system was decentralised by entrusting several areas to the local Sepoy governments. In terms of the military, the Sepoy troops were demobilized and the ratio of Sepoy soldiers to British soldiers was fixed at 2:1. No provisions were made for those who lost their jobs due to British presence. Due to this policy, Indians did not feel secure with their land and this caused resentment towards the British. In particular, the annexation of Awadh, an area historically loyal to the British, was greatly resented.
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