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Saturday, August 15, 2020



The establishment of British Rule was not a sudden event but a slow & gradual process comprising many wars & conquests, resulting in forceful subjugation of the Indian people. 

Naturally, it was a process resented & resisted at every stage. 

The British introduced rapid changes, which had an adverse impact on various aspects of Indian life. Consequently, people reacted to this new rule in two broadway.

These uprisings were directed against the common experience of oppression, brought about by the colonialists & their indigenous supporters.

Though these uprisings were localized in varying degrees, they emerged as the first expression of protest against the oppressive foreign rule & formed a significant prelude to the Revolt of 1857, also referred to as the- "First War of Independence".

Civil Rebellions

  • Civil Rebellions generally led by the rulers or their descendants, officials & retainers of the conquered Indian States as well as by improvised landlords & poligars (landed military magnets South India).
  • The mass base of these rebellions was provided by ruined peasants, artisans, & soldiers.
  • Group of small farmers or a farm laborer.
  • They were the sons of the soil, i.e. all those who were directly engaged in agricultural production.
  • The earliest inhabitants of a region.
  • They were lived in deep forests or hilly areas & shared a close bond with their land, forest & forest resources.
  • The tribal peasants combined agriculture with hunting & food gathering and even manufacturing from forest-based products.
  • Their relative isolation & closer ethnic bonds differentiated them from peasants.

Causes of the Pre-1857 Uprising:

The establishment of British rule had a far more devastating impact on the lives of various sections of Indian people, forcing them to rise in revolt against the colonial rule. Following are the reason for the uprising of Revolts:
The devastating impact on rulers & zamindars:
  • Several Rajas & Nawabs lost their principalities owing to the Company's policy of expansion.
  • Thousands of zamindars & poligars were uprooted; their rights were taken over by the colonial state.
  • They were forced to sell their rights due to their inability to pay higher revenues.
The devastating impact on Peasants:
  • The Company introduced rapid changes in administration & land revenue system, disrupting agrarian society.
  • The new land settlements (Permanent, Ryotwari & Mahalwari) created new ownership.
  • The colonial rulers insisted payment of revenue in cash, encouraging money lending practices which often resulted in heavy peasant indebtedness & landlessness.
  • The new land settlements also did away with certain customary rights like forest & pasturage rights.
  • Caste/Communal differences got strained.
  • Peasants were forced to grow cash crops like indigo, cotton instead of food grains, even in years of food grain scarcity, resulting in increased peasant exploitation & even famines.
  • The new judicial & administrative systems further encouraged the rich to oppress the poor. Cultivators were flogged, tortured & jailed for non-payment of rent, taxes & interests.
  • Corruption in lower levels of judiciary & administration made the life of the common man miserable.
The devastating impact on Artisans:
  • Colonialism also spelled doom for Indian artisans. As per the colonial policy, India was to be a market for British goods. These machine-made British goods were cheaper & finer than those made by Indian artisans. Without the demand for their handmade goods, the Indian artisans were thrown into unemployment.
  • While India was flooded with British manufactures, discriminatory tariffs were levied against Indian goods in Britain, ruining the Indian handloom & handicraft industry both ways.
  • Destruction of the indigenous industry led to large scale migrations from industry to agriculture (called peasantisation) with no simultaneous improvement in agriculture. This further increased pressure on land.
The devastating impact on Tribals:
  • The colonial administration ended the relative isolation of tribals & brought them within the ambit of the colonial economy & exploitation.
  • It intruded into the tribal polity, encroached upon tribal lands & transformed tribal relationships with land & forests.
  • It recognized the tribals as zamindars & introduced new land revenue system, taxed tribal products.
  • The colonial administration introduced a large number of outsiders among the tribals. These included middlemen such as the traders, revenue farmers & money landers who pulled the tribals into the very center of colonial exploitation.

Popular Uprisings up to 1857:

Bengal & Eastern India:



Sanyasi-Fakir Rebellion

1763 - 1800

Chuar Rebellion (Midnapur)

1766 – 1772

1795 - 1816

Peasant Uprising of Rangpur & Dinajpur

1820 - 37

Ho & Munda Rising

1820 - 37

Kol Uprising

(Chota Nagpur Plateau)


Pagal Panthis Revolt


Ahoma’s Revolt



Khasi Revolt

(Khasi Hill)


Faraizi Disturbances

1838 - 51

Khond Uprising


1837 - 56

Savara Rebellion

1856 - 57

Santhal Rebellion

(Rajmahal Hills)

1855 - 56

Western India:



Bhil Uprising (Khandesh, Western Ghats)

1818, 1825, 1831 & 1846

Waghera Rising (Okha Mandal)

1818 -19

The Kutch Rebellion (Kutch & Kathiawar)

1819 & 1831

Ramosi Rising

(Western Ghats)

1822 & 1839

Koli Rising (Gujarat)


1824 -29, 1839 & 1844 -48

Surat Salt Agitation

1844 - 48

Kolhapur & Savanvadi Revolts


Southern India:



The Revolt of the Raja of Vizianagaram


The Revolt of Diwan Velu Thampi (Travancore)


The Rebellion at Mysore

1830 - 1831

Mapilla Uprisings (Malabar)

1836 - 54

Northern India:



Kuka or Namdhari Movement (Western Punjab)




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