Friday, July 16, 2010

‘sepoy mutiny’

The Attack of Mutineers, July 30, 1857
"One of their leaders waving his sword, shouted 'Come on my braves!"
Illustration from London Printing Company Limited

In the histories written by the British rulers the flood of the people’s wrath was descried – to suit them – as the ‘Sepoy Munity’. This gives the impression that only soldiers took part in the uprising and no others.

It is true the solders took a leading part in this people’s war. But they were not the only the rajas, maharajas, chieftains, peshwas, nawabs and the Emperors of Delhi but also Hindus, Muslims, moulvis and puroshits (that is, the priests) joined the revolt. Most important role. The blood bath went on for eighteen to twenty months.

It is true that, as history has described, we were defeated. It is no shame for a country in subjection to be defeated any number of times in its fight for freedom. The struggle itself is the mark of living people. That itself is glory.

India is a vast country. The British found a fertile land for their trade. They could freely buy raw materials here and sell the finished product here at four times its price and fill their coffers. The disunity among the Indians was the secret of the East India Company’s success.

In 1752, when the Mughul emperor’s permission to trade was saught on bended knees by the British, the Company had three godowns. The total areas of land in their possession was only twenty square miles. One hundred years later, the area of land ruled by them was six and a half lakh square miles.

It was not enough for the Company that the country’s political and economic life came under its control; the Company wanted India to accept it religion, too. It strengthened its efforts to spread Christianity. Thus, there were several causes for the people’s agitation.


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