Revolt of 1857 was the earliest collective effort of the Independence struggle against colonial British rule. The revolt broke out on May 10, 1857, at Meerut as a sepoy mutiny. It was initiated by sepoys in the Bengal Presidency against British officers.
Revolt of 1857 was called the first war of Independence (V D Savarkar). It marked the end of rule by East India Company and the beginning of the Crown’s rule.
- Immediate factor:
- The introduction of ‘Enfield’ rifle. The cartridge had to be bitten off before loading it into the gun. Indian sepoys believed that the cartridge was greased with either pig fat or made from cow fat. This was against the Hindu and Muslim sentiments. Thus, they were reluctant to use the ‘Enfield’ rifle.
- Religious & Social Causes:
- Indians were exploited as backwards and were kept away from mixing with Europeans in society, education and jobs.
- The whites also started interfering in the religious and cultural affairs of Indians and tortured them as well (many legal acts such as abolition of sati system and widow remarriage act were seen as a form of interference.
- Political Causes:
- Practice of unfair policies like a policy of Trade and Commerce,
- The policy of indirect subordination (subsidiary alliance),
- The policy of war and annexation, the policy of direct subordination (doctrine of lapse),
- The policy of misgovernance (through which Awadh was annexed) greatly hampered the interests of the rulers of the native states, and they one by one became victims of British expansionism.
- Economic Factors:
- Discriminatory taxation & revenue system affected the peasants heavily.
- Deterioration of economic conditions among labour class, peasants, tribals and Rulers led to the rise of anti-British feelings.
- Racial discrimination:
- Indians employed in defence forces were discriminated against.
- They were paid low salaries;
- Their promotion was very restricted and
- They were forced to travel beyond oceans. To the religious Hindu of the time, crossing the seas meant loss of caste.