The Indian Mutiny, which occurred in 1857, was the consequence of a number of problems that had arisen as a result of the British occupation of India. It began as a mutiny of the sepoys, a class of soldiers. However, it soon escalated into other mutinies and civilian rebellions in the northern and central parts of India. The British occupation caused political, economic and cultural problems in India. This led to disharmony between the two sides. Political forces were a main cause of the Indian Mutiny, that were through overpowering from the British rule.
Nationalism had brought a great sense of pride to the conquering nation, where it was seen as both fashionable and right to conquer a nation. This had led to the arrival of the British East India Company where it had strongly implanted itself in the Sub-continent after the victory over Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey fought in 1757. This continued with the English defeating many other forces and brightened the prospects of the company in the country.
Many problems had arisen with the rule of the British, where they had enforced extremely heavy taxes upon the India people as well as new land revenue systems had ruined many peasant farmers, which had caused both political and cultural discontent within the Indian people. The doctrine of lapse and the annexation of Oudh by Dalhousie struck at the traditional ways of life and caused hatred throughout the Indian Sub-continent. This had meant that the rulers of each Indian State had lost their land as they had no male heirs.
Problems relating to religion had also occurred when the new Enfield rifle was introduced to replace the old musket where the cartridge was heavily greased with animal fat containing both Cows and pigs, which were seen as both sacred and unclean from the Hindus and Muslims respectively. Religious and cultural forces such as the spreading of Christianity and the suppression of traditional practices contributed greatly to the First War of Indian Independence. The changes that the British had made to Indian ways created considerable discontent and disturbances across India.
Due to the introduction of steamships, the closeness of the British and Indians disappeared as many families joined their officer husbands, meaning that the officers spent less time with their Sepoys or Indian mistresses. The education system brought about a group of higher-caste men, however jobs were not available to them. There was also fear among the Hindus that their religion would be lost by Christianity. Both the army and the civil population were under the fear that the government intended to make everybody a Christian.
Missionary activity was extended by Englishmen all over the country. Furthermore, there were some major reforms such as the abolition of child marriage and the suppression of Sati. These were all major contributing factors to Indian Mutiny which saw the Indians being defeated by the British. There were also many economic reasons behind the Indian Mutiny. During their time in India, the East India Company were successful in building power. Over one and a half centuries, numerous bribes allowed the East India Company to operate in overseas markets. However, this did not benefit local business.
For example, the cheap imports of South Asian products, including silk and cotton decreased the profits of domestic businesses. The introduction of the British ‘Doctrine of Lapse’, helped the British to expand their imperial domain. As a result of this doctrine, Indian princes were forbidden from inheriting land from people who they were not natural heirs of. This gave the British vast amounts of land. By 1857, the independence of the remaining states had been reduced, and the East India Company was exporting untold amounts of luxuries back to England each year.
These included, gold, silver, silk and cotton. The economic advantages for the British left many Indians out of business or with decreased profits. This caused animosity between the two parties, which led to the Indian Mutiny. In conclusion, the Indian Mutiny had occurred due to various reasons broadly in the category of political, economic and cultural. The British presence in India caused the changes. These had changed the future of India and the many citizens within the nation.
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