DMPQ- Critically evaluate the causes of 1857 revolt.

. The causes of the revolt of 1857, like those of earlier uprisings, emerged from all aspects—socio-cultural, economic and political—of daily existence of Indian population cutting through all sections and classes. These causes are discussed below:

Economic Causes

The colonial policies of the East India Company destroyed the traditional economic fabric of the Indian society. The peasantry were never really to recover from the disabilities imposed by the new and a highly unpopular revenue settlement. Impoverished by heavy taxation, the peasants resorted to loans from money-lenders/traders at usurious rates, the latter often evicting the former from their land on non-payment of debt dues.

The ruin of Indian industry increased the pressure on agriculture and land, which could not support all the people; the lopsided development resulted in pauperisation of the country in general.

Political Causes

The East India Company’s greedy policy of aggrandisement accompanied by broken pledges and promises resulted in contempt for the Company and loss of political prestige, besides causing suspicion in the minds of almost all the ruling princes in India, through such policies as of ‘Effective Control’, ‘Subsidiary Alliance’ and ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. The right of succession was denied to Hindu princes.

Administrative Causes

Rampant corruption in the Company’s administration, especially among the police, petty officials and lower law courts, was a major cause of discontent. Indeed, it is the view of many historians that the rampant corruption we see now in India is a legacy of the Company rule. Also, the character of British rule imparted a foreign and alien look to it in the eyes of Indians: a kind of absentee sovereignty.

Socio-Religious Causes

Racial overtones and a superiority complex characterised the British administrative attitude towards the native Indian population. The activities of Christian missionaries who followed the British flag in India were looked upon with suspicion by Indians. The attempts at socio-religious reform such as abolition of sati, support to widow-marriage and women’s education were seen by a large section of the population as interference in the social and religious domains of Indian society by outsiders.

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