Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857
There were many political, military, religious, social and economic causes of the Indian rebellion of 1857. Economic causes were among the major causes of this rebellion. People felt that the British policies were exploiting India as a country economically. This affected all the sectors of the Indian society.
High revenue demanded by the government affected the peasants. Large scale importation of manufactured goods from Britain ruined craftsmen and artisans by making their handmade products uneconomical. People who depended on cultural and religious pursuits were also affected by the withdrawal of the royal patronage. The situation was worsened by the unresponsive and corrupt administration.
Among the political causes of the Indian rebellion of 1857 included the territorial annexations policy that led to displacement of chiefs and rulers. Doctrine of Lapse and Subsidiary Alliance policies angered the Indians especially the rulers who led revolts in their territories.
People resented the Awadh annexation on the basis of misgovernment because Awadh had maintained his loyalty to the British. This annexation was seen as a back-stabbing act which hurt the sepoys of the company because most of them were from Awadh.
Additionally, even after the introduction of a new regime, people were not relieved from oppression. Peasants were required to pay additional taxes and higher revenue. People did not have alternative sources of livelihood yet dissolution of the administration of Nawab led to loss of jobs.
The British introduced social reforms that also caused the Indian rebellion of 1857. These reforms included the Sati abolition, widow remarriage legalization and provision of western education to the Indian women. These social reforms were viewed with suspicion by conservative Indians because they interfered with their social customs.
There was also the aspect of social discrimination because the British considered their race superior to that of Indians. This caused resentments among the Indians. Educated Indians were never promoted or appointed to higher offices which worsened their attitude towards the British.
There were also religious causes of the Indian rebellion. The revolt broke out because the Indians feared that the British wanted to destroy the Hindu religion and then convert them into Christianity.
This fear was caused by the Christian missionaries in India and the conversions that they had made during their stay there. The idea of rebelling against the British government got more support from the people due to the policy that led to the taxation of the lands that belonged to mosques and temples. This made many Indians feel that their religion was threatened by the presence of the British in India.
The Indian soldiers serving as part of the British troops also suffered from the British oppression. British officers treated them with contempt and they were never promoted. This combined with other grievances or military causes fueled the Indian rebellion.
Introduction of the Enfield rifle that required cartridges with greased cover acted as the immediate cause of the rebellion. The Indians thought that the grease was cow’s fat while the Muslims thought that the grease was pork’s fat.
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