Mangal Pandey


    In News

    • Prime Minister paid tributes to the hero of Sepoy Mutiny Mangal Pandey on his birth anniversary.
      • He spearheaded the 1857 sepoy mutiny against unjust British rule and inspired many to join the freedom struggle. 

    About Mangal Pandey

    • Early Life:
      • He was born on July 19, 1827, in a town near Faizabad, what is now eastern Uttar Pradesh state in northern India, although some give his birthplace as a small village near Lalitpur (in present-day southwestern Uttar Pradesh). 
      • He was from a high-caste Brahman landowning family that professed strong Hindu beliefs. 
    • Became part of British Army:
      • He joined the army of the British East India Company in 1849 and he was made a soldier (sepoy) in the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry, which included a large number of Brahmans.
    • Rebellion against EIC:
      • He revolted against the East India Company for introducing cartridges that were greased with animal fat as it hurt the religious sentiments of the soldiers.
      • Eventually, this movement of rebels reached other parts of India and which led to a mass revolt against the government.
      • The movement of protest and rebellion came to be known as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, also known as the First War of Independence.
      • On March 29, 1857, Pandey and his fellow sepoys rose up in rebellion against the British officers and even attempted to shoot them. As a result of this, he was executed on April 7, 1857, in Barrackpore.
      • On May 6th, the entire  34th Bengal Native Infantry was disbanded ‘with disgrace’. 
    • Remembrance:
      • In India, Pandey has been remembered as a freedom fighter against British rule. 
      • A commemorative postage stamp with his image on it was issued by the Indian government in 1984. 
      • In addition, a movie and stage play that depicted his life both appeared in 2005.

    Revolt of 1857 (Sepoy Mutiny or First War of Independence)

    • About: 
      • It was the widespread rebellion against British rule in India in 1857–59 which began in Meerut by Indian troops (sepoys) in the service of the British East India Company; it spread to Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, and Lucknow.
      • It was a major upheaval against the British Rule in which the disgruntled princes, to disconnected sepoys and disillusioned elements, participated.
    • Background:
      • Right from the inception of the East India Company, there had been several resistance from divergent sections in different parts of the subcontinent.
      • There were a series of civil disturbances and local uprisings which were scattered, localised and most violent. Most of these movements arose due to popular discontent with British rule.
      • For about 100 years the people of India had witnessed the enormous lot and plunder of wealth from India to Britain.
    • Causes: Although Revolt began as a military uprising there were several Political, administrative, socio-cultural, economic, religious, cultural and immediate causes of the revolt.
      • Political Causes:
        • Subsidiary Alliance: The British policy of territorial annexations led to the displacement of a large number of rulers and chiefs. The vigorous application of the policies of Subsidiary Alliance and Doctrine of Lapse angered the ruling sections of the society.
          • Discontent and dissatisfaction were especially strong in those regions, which were believed to have lost their independence.
        • Doctrine of Lapse: The practical application of the Doctrine of Lapse of Lord Dalhousie’s produced unprecedented discontent in the directly affected states.
        • Humiliating and Rush Policy towards the Successors of the Mughals: British never honoured their written or verbal promises; consequently it was natural to result in hatred and revolts.
        • India was Governed from Foreign Land:  India was being governed from a foreign country which meant that the rulers of India were carrying on their administration in India while sitting at a distance of thousands of miles away from this country.
        • Suspension of Pension: Suspension of pensions of some of the Indian chiefs and who were disposed of by the company.
      • Administrative Causes:
        • Loss of Benefits and Privileges: The Indian aristocrats who once enjoyed privileges, both economic and social, were now deprived of such privileges by the annexation policy of the East India Company.
        • Exclusion of Indians from Higher Administrative posts: In the new administrative machinery Indians were excluded from all the jobs both in civil as well as in military departments. All the Higher posts in British administration were kept reserved for the English people to the exclusion of the Indians.
      • Economic Causes:
        • Economic Exploitation of all sections: The only interest of the Company was the collection of maximum revenue with minimum efforts. Owing to their colonial policies of economic exploitation, industry, trade commerce and agriculture languished and India became de-industrialized, impoverished and debt-ridden.
        • Ruin of the Mercantile Class: The British deliberately crippled Indian trade and commerce by imposing high tariff duties against Indian goods.
        • Destruction of Indian Manufacturers: The British policy of promoting the import of cotton goods to India from England destroyed all Indian manufacturers in the cotton textile industry.
        • Pressure on Land: The ruin of Indian Industry and commerce made several people unemployed and the lack of alternate occupational avenues drove a large part of the urban population to fall back on the village economy.
      • Socio-Religious Causes:
        • Social Exclusiveness: The British policy of social exclusiveness and arrogant manner towards the Indians created discontent among the Indians.
          • They were infected with the feeling of racial superiority.
        • Social Legislation: The social legislation passed by the British also became the cause of the Revolt of 1857. The British endeavoured to eradicate social Evils like the custom of Sati, Infanticide and child marriage.
          • And they also encouraged widow marriage for which they passed various social legislation as in 1829, Lord William Bentinck abolished the practice of Sati, with the support of educated and enlightened Indians such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy.
      • Military Causes:
        • General Service Enlistment Act (1856): The Indian soldiers nursed grievances against the British as they were forced to go on expeditions to Burma and Afghanistan, which violated their religious scruples. 
        • Dissimilarity between the salaries of the Indian Soldiers and the British Soldiers
      • Greased Cartridges – The Immediate Cause
        • It was in 1856 when, according to regulation, the sepoys were required to bite the end of the cartridge before using it. 
        • There was a rumour that the cartridges to be used with the new Enfield rifles were greased with the fat of cows and pigs.
        • On account of their ignorance, the British Government denied the truth of this allegation. However, on a secret enquiry, it was, later on, found that actually the fat of cows and pigs had been used. The result was that the sepoys got infuriated. These factors created the immediate cause for the commencement of the Great Mutiny of 1857.

    Source: PIB