Chapter 8: LOCAL REBELLIONS
power was established in India after prolonged conquests
and consolidation. These were met by minor resistances by
routed Nawabs, zamindars, landowners and supported by
tribals and peasants. The main cause of localized
rebellions by civilians
was the changes British brought into agrarian society
ruining it by imposing high land revenues. Not even
a part of the revenue was spent on improving agriculture
or welfare of cultivators.
zamindars and poligars were discontent since their lands
were confiscated and they were replaced by government
officials and moneylenders in the societal order.
courts, police and the officials were further increasing
resentment of the people.
artisans and craftsmen were ruined due to the free trade
with Britain that flooded India with machine made goods.
They lost their markets abroad due to high tariff on
also lost their domestic market of princes, chieftains and
rule had affected scholarly and priestly classes as they
lost their traditional patrons viz. princes, landowners
and bureaucratic elite who were ruined by the British.
Finally being under a foreigner rule humiliated all
sections of the society.
rebellions were scattered; their effects were local. They
leaders were mostly interested in restoring the
traditional order rather than freedom from foreign rule.
They were not capable of fighting the organized British
rulers. The repression to these was the main reasons why
revolt of 1857 didn’t spread to south India or eastern and
western India. Even though these rebels failed they had
historical importance and inspired the future national
TRIBAL REBELLIONS FROM
rebelled as they were discontent due to British rule. The
British had ended their isolation from the society and
brought it in contact with colonialism. Tribal
leaders became recognized as zamindars and were given
responsibility to collect land revenue.
also led to influx of missionaries increasing religious
interference. The large number of moneylenders, traders
and revenue farmers came to exploit tribals and made them
into bankrupt, share croppers or landless people. They
were evicted from lands that they had brought into
could no longer access forest lands for shifting
cultivation nor take forest produce due to British
policies. The officials used to harass them and
outsiders forced them to do unpaid labor. All this
uprooted their traditional lives and created conditions
the tribal’s resorted to armed rebellions but were no
match for the organized British troops with the latest
weapons. Lakhs of tribal’s died in these unequal wars.
and birsa uprisings were due to same reasons.
PEASANT MOVEMENTS AND
UPRISING AFTER 1857
riots were due to the oppression of indigo planter,
who were European, on the peasants. The planters forced
the growers to produce indigo which would be processed in
factories. The cultivators had to sow indigo on their best
soil and put labor to sell the plant at a price below
had to accept advance from the planter and since he
couldn’t pay it back he had to keep planting indigo. The forced and
fraudulent contracts couldn’t be discarded by courts
as process was time consuming and costly. The
planters also had armed goons who would force the
cultivator with violence. The
Europeans judges that were in courts also sided with
peasants had to rebel and they stopped growing indigo
under duress. They were withstanding the assaults. The
cultivators attacked planters, their factories and
organized themselves into groups to fight the police and
goons of the planters. The planters then tried to increase
the rent of cultivators. But the peasants refused to pay
it. They organized themselves into groups and pooled money
to fight cases.
the planters surrendered and closed the factories. The
Indian society of intelligentsia was united behind them
and so were the Christian missionaries. The government’s
vary after the 1857 revolts pacified the rioters with a
notification favoring their stand. The unity amongst
rioters irrespective of caste, religion led to their
peasant riots during this period were based on legal
tactics to solve cases and not armed rebellion. They
were for immediate resolution of grievances. They were
against the zamindar and not the British rule. Hence the
tactics of government were also soft unlike on the 1857
rioters. The peasants revolted only when no other remedy
was available and revolt was only alternative. The
government to respond by pacifying rebels with
legislations. Intelligentsia was in support of rioters
here unlike in pre-1857.
Aftermath of the Revolts
1857 most princes, landlords and zamindars were ruined and
cultivators assumed important role in agrarian society. The
feeling of humiliation of being under foreign rule
wasn’t there. The peasant didn’t oppose imposition
of land revenue or zamindar but only was against high land
revenue and oppressive attitude of zamindars. The peasants
didn’t understand the effect of colonialism at this stage.
this was changed in 20th century when
peasant discontent was merged with anti imperial
discontent and they became part of the wider anti imperial
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