How Should The Indian Mutiny B

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HOW SHOULD THE INDIAN MUTINY BE CHARACTERISED? SHOULD IT BE SEEN AS A POST PACIFICATION REVOLT, A NATIONALIST UPRISING, OR AS A WAR OF INDEPENDENCE? Any discussion on the reasons behind the Indian mutiny needs to be preceded by what the mutiny actually was. While mutinies and revolts were not uncommon in India at this time, they were usually largely uncoordinated. The mutiny of 1857 however, was different. Here was a major convergence of various strands of resistance, and an expansion of scale and new level of intensity . It is my purpose to discover why this was. The Mutiny was initiated on the 10th May 1857 at Meerut by the XI native cavalry. The immediate issue was the greased cartridges of the new rifle which was being brought into use in India. Soldiers were expected to bite off the end of the cartridge to release the powder with which to prime the rifle. It had been suggested as early as 1853 by Colonel Tucker that the new grease might offend the religious sentiments of the Sepoys, but this warning had gone unheeded. This type of attitude was typical of the British who constantly underestimated the importance of Indian religion, and the failure to do so here was to have disastrous consequences. In January 1857 a labourer at the Dum Dum arsenal near Calcutta, a low caste Hindu, taunted a high caste Sepoy who had offended him that “You will soon lose your caste, as long as you will have to bite cartridges covered with the fat of pigs and cows” . The news of this incident spread. As it was against Muslim and Hindu religion to come into contact with these meats, it would have been a disgrace for them to have had to use these rifles. However, it was not personal pollution that the Sepoys feared but, social ostracism, they feared they would be ex communicated by their own people. Furthermore, the whole incident appeared more sinister to the Sepoys , who already suspected the British had in mind to make them outcasts and convert them to Christianity. With this skepticism still rife, Colonel Carmichael Smith ordered his regiment at Meerut to parade for firing practice on 24th April 1857. He was aware the situation was tense, but there were new instructions to open the cartridges with fingers and not teeth. However, the men refused to take practice cartridges even though they were the old type, as they feared for their reputations. The men were court ma... ... middle of paper ... ... instrument that the British were using to keep power, and thus once the army had shown they were no longer supporting Britain, people would not fear reprisals in broaching problems that they had against British rule, and also use the mutiny as an attempt to elevate themselves to greater power and status. To adequately describe the mutiny seems to call for the answer that in many senses of the word it was not one mutiny, but many, all occurring for different reasons in a domino effect, started for one reason, but quickly moving on to another agenda as it moved through the country. The actual mutiny itself started from a relatively minor occurrence, but its continuance portrays an expression of broader discontent among the ordinary people of India, although it cane be seen there were no clearly defined aims involved. Furthermore, the fact that there was no move away from westernism directly after the mutiny dispels more from any argument of a war of Independence or a national uprising. Thus if the mutiny has to be characterised at all, which has been shown is particularly hard, and maybe even undesirable, then it would have to be described as some type of post pacification revolt.

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