NCERT Textbook - When People Rebel (1857 And After) Class 8 Notes | EduRev

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UPSC : NCERT Textbook - When People Rebel (1857 And After) Class 8 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


51
When People Rebel
1857 and After
5
Policies and the People
In the previous chapters you looked at the policies of
the East India Company and the effect they had on
different people. Kings, queens, peasants, landlords,
tribals, soldiers were all affected in different ways. You
have also seen how people resist policies and actions
that harm their interests or go against their sentiments.
Nawabs lose their power
Since the mid-eighteenth century, nawabs and rajas
had seen their power erode. They had gradually lost
their authority and honour. Residents had been
stationed in many courts, the freedom of the rulers
reduced, their armed forces disbanded, and their
revenues and territories taken away by stages.
Many ruling families tried to negotiate with the
Company to protect their interests. For example, Rani
Lakshmibai of Jhansi wanted the Company to recognise
her adopted son as the heir to the kingdom after the
death of her husband. Nana Saheb, the adopted son of
Fig. 1 – Sepoys and peasants
gather forces for the revolt that
spread across the plains of north
India in 1857
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


51
When People Rebel
1857 and After
5
Policies and the People
In the previous chapters you looked at the policies of
the East India Company and the effect they had on
different people. Kings, queens, peasants, landlords,
tribals, soldiers were all affected in different ways. You
have also seen how people resist policies and actions
that harm their interests or go against their sentiments.
Nawabs lose their power
Since the mid-eighteenth century, nawabs and rajas
had seen their power erode. They had gradually lost
their authority and honour. Residents had been
stationed in many courts, the freedom of the rulers
reduced, their armed forces disbanded, and their
revenues and territories taken away by stages.
Many ruling families tried to negotiate with the
Company to protect their interests. For example, Rani
Lakshmibai of Jhansi wanted the Company to recognise
her adopted son as the heir to the kingdom after the
death of her husband. Nana Saheb, the adopted son of
Fig. 1 – Sepoys and peasants
gather forces for the revolt that
spread across the plains of north
India in 1857
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 52
Peshwa Baji Rao II, pleaded that he be given his father’s
pension when the latter died. However, the Company,
confident of its superiority and military powers, turned
down these pleas.
Awadh was one of the last territories to be annexed.
In 1801, a subsidiary alliance was imposed on Awadh,
and in 1856 it was taken over. Governor-General
Dalhousie declared that the territory was being
misgoverned and British rule was needed to ensure
proper administration.
The Company even began to plan how to bring the
Mughal dynasty to an end. The name of the Mughal
king was removed from the coins minted by the
Company. In 1849, Governor-General Dalhousie
announced that after the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar,
the family of the king would be shifted out of the Red
Fort and given another place in Delhi to reside in. In
1856, Governor-General Canning decided that Bahadur
Shah Zafar would be the last Mughal king and after
his death none of his descendants would be recognised
as kings – they would just be called princes.
The peasants and the sepoys
In the countryside peasants and zamindars resented
the high taxes and the rigid methods of revenue
collection. Many failed to pay back their loans to the
moneylenders and gradually lost the lands they had
tilled for generations.
The Indian sepoys in the employ of the Company
also had reasons for discontent. They were unhappy
about their pay, allowances and conditions of service.
Some of the new rules, moreover, violated their religious
sensibilities and beliefs. Did you know that in those
days many people in the country believed that if they
crossed the sea they would lose their religion and caste?
So when in 1824 the sepoys were told to go to Burma by
the sea route to fight for the Company, they refused to
follow the order, though they agreed to go by the land
route. They were severely punished, and since the issue
did not die down, in 1856 the Company passed a new
law which stated that every new person who took up
employment in the Company’s army had to agree to
serve overseas if required.
Sepoys also reacted to what was happening in the
countryside. Many of them were peasants and had
families living in the villages. So the anger of the
peasants quickly spread among the sepoys.
Activity
Imagine you are a sepoy
in the Company army,
advising your nephew
not to take employment
in the army. What reasons
would you give?

© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


51
When People Rebel
1857 and After
5
Policies and the People
In the previous chapters you looked at the policies of
the East India Company and the effect they had on
different people. Kings, queens, peasants, landlords,
tribals, soldiers were all affected in different ways. You
have also seen how people resist policies and actions
that harm their interests or go against their sentiments.
Nawabs lose their power
Since the mid-eighteenth century, nawabs and rajas
had seen their power erode. They had gradually lost
their authority and honour. Residents had been
stationed in many courts, the freedom of the rulers
reduced, their armed forces disbanded, and their
revenues and territories taken away by stages.
Many ruling families tried to negotiate with the
Company to protect their interests. For example, Rani
Lakshmibai of Jhansi wanted the Company to recognise
her adopted son as the heir to the kingdom after the
death of her husband. Nana Saheb, the adopted son of
Fig. 1 – Sepoys and peasants
gather forces for the revolt that
spread across the plains of north
India in 1857
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 52
Peshwa Baji Rao II, pleaded that he be given his father’s
pension when the latter died. However, the Company,
confident of its superiority and military powers, turned
down these pleas.
Awadh was one of the last territories to be annexed.
In 1801, a subsidiary alliance was imposed on Awadh,
and in 1856 it was taken over. Governor-General
Dalhousie declared that the territory was being
misgoverned and British rule was needed to ensure
proper administration.
The Company even began to plan how to bring the
Mughal dynasty to an end. The name of the Mughal
king was removed from the coins minted by the
Company. In 1849, Governor-General Dalhousie
announced that after the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar,
the family of the king would be shifted out of the Red
Fort and given another place in Delhi to reside in. In
1856, Governor-General Canning decided that Bahadur
Shah Zafar would be the last Mughal king and after
his death none of his descendants would be recognised
as kings – they would just be called princes.
The peasants and the sepoys
In the countryside peasants and zamindars resented
the high taxes and the rigid methods of revenue
collection. Many failed to pay back their loans to the
moneylenders and gradually lost the lands they had
tilled for generations.
The Indian sepoys in the employ of the Company
also had reasons for discontent. They were unhappy
about their pay, allowances and conditions of service.
Some of the new rules, moreover, violated their religious
sensibilities and beliefs. Did you know that in those
days many people in the country believed that if they
crossed the sea they would lose their religion and caste?
So when in 1824 the sepoys were told to go to Burma by
the sea route to fight for the Company, they refused to
follow the order, though they agreed to go by the land
route. They were severely punished, and since the issue
did not die down, in 1856 the Company passed a new
law which stated that every new person who took up
employment in the Company’s army had to agree to
serve overseas if required.
Sepoys also reacted to what was happening in the
countryside. Many of them were peasants and had
families living in the villages. So the anger of the
peasants quickly spread among the sepoys.
Activity
Imagine you are a sepoy
in the Company army,
advising your nephew
not to take employment
in the army. What reasons
would you give?

© NCERT
not to be republished
53
Responses to reforms
The British believed that Indian society had to
be reformed. Laws were passed to stop the
practice of sati and to encourage the remarriage
of widows. English-language education was
actively promoted. After 1830, the Company
allowed Christian missionaries to function
freely in its domain and even own land and
property. In 1850, a new law was passed to
make conversion to Christianity easier. This
law allowed an Indian who had converted to
Christianity to inherit the property of his
ancestors. Many Indians began to feel that the
British were destroying their religion, their
social customs and their traditional way of life.
There were of course other Indians who
wanted to change existing social practices. You
will read about these reformers and reform
movements in Chapter 7.
Through the Eyes of the People
To get a glimpse of what people were thinking
those days about British rule, study Sources 1 and 2.
The list of eighty-four rules
Given here are excerpts from the book Majha Pravaas, written by Vishnubhatt
Godse, a Brahman from a village in Maharashtra. He and his uncle had set out
to attend a yajna being organised in Mathura. Vishnubhatt writes that they met
some sepoys on the way who told them that they should not proceed on the
journey because a massive upheaval was going to break out in three days.
The sepoys said:
the English were determined to wipe out the religions of the Hindus and the
Muslims … they had made a list of eighty-four rules and announced these
in a gathering of all big kings and princes in Calcutta. They said that the
kings refused to accept these rules and warned the English of dire
consequences and massive upheaval if these are implemented … that the
kings all returned to their capitals in great anger …  all the big people
began making plans. A date was fixed for the war of religion and the secret
plan had been circulated from the cantonment in Meerut by letters sent to
different cantonments.
Vishnubhatt Godse, Majha Pravaas, pp. 23-24.
Source 1
Fig. 2 – Sepoys exchange news
and rumours in the bazaars of
north India
WHEN PEOPLE REBEL
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


51
When People Rebel
1857 and After
5
Policies and the People
In the previous chapters you looked at the policies of
the East India Company and the effect they had on
different people. Kings, queens, peasants, landlords,
tribals, soldiers were all affected in different ways. You
have also seen how people resist policies and actions
that harm their interests or go against their sentiments.
Nawabs lose their power
Since the mid-eighteenth century, nawabs and rajas
had seen their power erode. They had gradually lost
their authority and honour. Residents had been
stationed in many courts, the freedom of the rulers
reduced, their armed forces disbanded, and their
revenues and territories taken away by stages.
Many ruling families tried to negotiate with the
Company to protect their interests. For example, Rani
Lakshmibai of Jhansi wanted the Company to recognise
her adopted son as the heir to the kingdom after the
death of her husband. Nana Saheb, the adopted son of
Fig. 1 – Sepoys and peasants
gather forces for the revolt that
spread across the plains of north
India in 1857
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 52
Peshwa Baji Rao II, pleaded that he be given his father’s
pension when the latter died. However, the Company,
confident of its superiority and military powers, turned
down these pleas.
Awadh was one of the last territories to be annexed.
In 1801, a subsidiary alliance was imposed on Awadh,
and in 1856 it was taken over. Governor-General
Dalhousie declared that the territory was being
misgoverned and British rule was needed to ensure
proper administration.
The Company even began to plan how to bring the
Mughal dynasty to an end. The name of the Mughal
king was removed from the coins minted by the
Company. In 1849, Governor-General Dalhousie
announced that after the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar,
the family of the king would be shifted out of the Red
Fort and given another place in Delhi to reside in. In
1856, Governor-General Canning decided that Bahadur
Shah Zafar would be the last Mughal king and after
his death none of his descendants would be recognised
as kings – they would just be called princes.
The peasants and the sepoys
In the countryside peasants and zamindars resented
the high taxes and the rigid methods of revenue
collection. Many failed to pay back their loans to the
moneylenders and gradually lost the lands they had
tilled for generations.
The Indian sepoys in the employ of the Company
also had reasons for discontent. They were unhappy
about their pay, allowances and conditions of service.
Some of the new rules, moreover, violated their religious
sensibilities and beliefs. Did you know that in those
days many people in the country believed that if they
crossed the sea they would lose their religion and caste?
So when in 1824 the sepoys were told to go to Burma by
the sea route to fight for the Company, they refused to
follow the order, though they agreed to go by the land
route. They were severely punished, and since the issue
did not die down, in 1856 the Company passed a new
law which stated that every new person who took up
employment in the Company’s army had to agree to
serve overseas if required.
Sepoys also reacted to what was happening in the
countryside. Many of them were peasants and had
families living in the villages. So the anger of the
peasants quickly spread among the sepoys.
Activity
Imagine you are a sepoy
in the Company army,
advising your nephew
not to take employment
in the army. What reasons
would you give?

© NCERT
not to be republished
53
Responses to reforms
The British believed that Indian society had to
be reformed. Laws were passed to stop the
practice of sati and to encourage the remarriage
of widows. English-language education was
actively promoted. After 1830, the Company
allowed Christian missionaries to function
freely in its domain and even own land and
property. In 1850, a new law was passed to
make conversion to Christianity easier. This
law allowed an Indian who had converted to
Christianity to inherit the property of his
ancestors. Many Indians began to feel that the
British were destroying their religion, their
social customs and their traditional way of life.
There were of course other Indians who
wanted to change existing social practices. You
will read about these reformers and reform
movements in Chapter 7.
Through the Eyes of the People
To get a glimpse of what people were thinking
those days about British rule, study Sources 1 and 2.
The list of eighty-four rules
Given here are excerpts from the book Majha Pravaas, written by Vishnubhatt
Godse, a Brahman from a village in Maharashtra. He and his uncle had set out
to attend a yajna being organised in Mathura. Vishnubhatt writes that they met
some sepoys on the way who told them that they should not proceed on the
journey because a massive upheaval was going to break out in three days.
The sepoys said:
the English were determined to wipe out the religions of the Hindus and the
Muslims … they had made a list of eighty-four rules and announced these
in a gathering of all big kings and princes in Calcutta. They said that the
kings refused to accept these rules and warned the English of dire
consequences and massive upheaval if these are implemented … that the
kings all returned to their capitals in great anger …  all the big people
began making plans. A date was fixed for the war of religion and the secret
plan had been circulated from the cantonment in Meerut by letters sent to
different cantonments.
Vishnubhatt Godse, Majha Pravaas, pp. 23-24.
Source 1
Fig. 2 – Sepoys exchange news
and rumours in the bazaars of
north India
WHEN PEOPLE REBEL
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 54
“There was soon excitement in every regiment”
Another account we have from those days are the memoirs of Subedar Sitaram
Pande. Sitaram Pande was recruited in 1812 as a sepoy in the Bengal Native
Army. He served the English for 48 years and retired in 1860. He helped the
British to suppress the rebellion though his own son was a rebel and was
killed by the British in front of his eyes. On retirement he was persuaded by
his Commanding Officer, Norgate, to write his memoirs. He completed the
writing in 1861 in Awadhi and Norgate translated it into English and had it
published under the title From Sepoy to Subedar.
Here is an excerpt from what Sitaram Pande wrote:
It is my humble opinion that this seizing of Oudh filled the minds of the
Sepoys with distrust and led them to plot against the Government. Agents
of the Nawab of Oudh and also of the King of Delhi were sent all over
India to discover the temper of the army. They worked upon the feelings
of sepoys, telling them how treacherously the foreigners had behaved
towards their king. They invented ten thousand lies and promises to
persuade the soldiers to mutiny and turn against their masters, the English,
with the object of restoring the Emperor of Delhi to the throne. They
maintained that this was wholly within the army’s powers if the soldiers
would only act together and do as they were advised.
Source 2
Fig. 3 – Rebel sepoys at Meerut attack officers, enter their homes and set fire to buildings
Source 2 contd.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


51
When People Rebel
1857 and After
5
Policies and the People
In the previous chapters you looked at the policies of
the East India Company and the effect they had on
different people. Kings, queens, peasants, landlords,
tribals, soldiers were all affected in different ways. You
have also seen how people resist policies and actions
that harm their interests or go against their sentiments.
Nawabs lose their power
Since the mid-eighteenth century, nawabs and rajas
had seen their power erode. They had gradually lost
their authority and honour. Residents had been
stationed in many courts, the freedom of the rulers
reduced, their armed forces disbanded, and their
revenues and territories taken away by stages.
Many ruling families tried to negotiate with the
Company to protect their interests. For example, Rani
Lakshmibai of Jhansi wanted the Company to recognise
her adopted son as the heir to the kingdom after the
death of her husband. Nana Saheb, the adopted son of
Fig. 1 – Sepoys and peasants
gather forces for the revolt that
spread across the plains of north
India in 1857
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 52
Peshwa Baji Rao II, pleaded that he be given his father’s
pension when the latter died. However, the Company,
confident of its superiority and military powers, turned
down these pleas.
Awadh was one of the last territories to be annexed.
In 1801, a subsidiary alliance was imposed on Awadh,
and in 1856 it was taken over. Governor-General
Dalhousie declared that the territory was being
misgoverned and British rule was needed to ensure
proper administration.
The Company even began to plan how to bring the
Mughal dynasty to an end. The name of the Mughal
king was removed from the coins minted by the
Company. In 1849, Governor-General Dalhousie
announced that after the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar,
the family of the king would be shifted out of the Red
Fort and given another place in Delhi to reside in. In
1856, Governor-General Canning decided that Bahadur
Shah Zafar would be the last Mughal king and after
his death none of his descendants would be recognised
as kings – they would just be called princes.
The peasants and the sepoys
In the countryside peasants and zamindars resented
the high taxes and the rigid methods of revenue
collection. Many failed to pay back their loans to the
moneylenders and gradually lost the lands they had
tilled for generations.
The Indian sepoys in the employ of the Company
also had reasons for discontent. They were unhappy
about their pay, allowances and conditions of service.
Some of the new rules, moreover, violated their religious
sensibilities and beliefs. Did you know that in those
days many people in the country believed that if they
crossed the sea they would lose their religion and caste?
So when in 1824 the sepoys were told to go to Burma by
the sea route to fight for the Company, they refused to
follow the order, though they agreed to go by the land
route. They were severely punished, and since the issue
did not die down, in 1856 the Company passed a new
law which stated that every new person who took up
employment in the Company’s army had to agree to
serve overseas if required.
Sepoys also reacted to what was happening in the
countryside. Many of them were peasants and had
families living in the villages. So the anger of the
peasants quickly spread among the sepoys.
Activity
Imagine you are a sepoy
in the Company army,
advising your nephew
not to take employment
in the army. What reasons
would you give?

© NCERT
not to be republished
53
Responses to reforms
The British believed that Indian society had to
be reformed. Laws were passed to stop the
practice of sati and to encourage the remarriage
of widows. English-language education was
actively promoted. After 1830, the Company
allowed Christian missionaries to function
freely in its domain and even own land and
property. In 1850, a new law was passed to
make conversion to Christianity easier. This
law allowed an Indian who had converted to
Christianity to inherit the property of his
ancestors. Many Indians began to feel that the
British were destroying their religion, their
social customs and their traditional way of life.
There were of course other Indians who
wanted to change existing social practices. You
will read about these reformers and reform
movements in Chapter 7.
Through the Eyes of the People
To get a glimpse of what people were thinking
those days about British rule, study Sources 1 and 2.
The list of eighty-four rules
Given here are excerpts from the book Majha Pravaas, written by Vishnubhatt
Godse, a Brahman from a village in Maharashtra. He and his uncle had set out
to attend a yajna being organised in Mathura. Vishnubhatt writes that they met
some sepoys on the way who told them that they should not proceed on the
journey because a massive upheaval was going to break out in three days.
The sepoys said:
the English were determined to wipe out the religions of the Hindus and the
Muslims … they had made a list of eighty-four rules and announced these
in a gathering of all big kings and princes in Calcutta. They said that the
kings refused to accept these rules and warned the English of dire
consequences and massive upheaval if these are implemented … that the
kings all returned to their capitals in great anger …  all the big people
began making plans. A date was fixed for the war of religion and the secret
plan had been circulated from the cantonment in Meerut by letters sent to
different cantonments.
Vishnubhatt Godse, Majha Pravaas, pp. 23-24.
Source 1
Fig. 2 – Sepoys exchange news
and rumours in the bazaars of
north India
WHEN PEOPLE REBEL
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 54
“There was soon excitement in every regiment”
Another account we have from those days are the memoirs of Subedar Sitaram
Pande. Sitaram Pande was recruited in 1812 as a sepoy in the Bengal Native
Army. He served the English for 48 years and retired in 1860. He helped the
British to suppress the rebellion though his own son was a rebel and was
killed by the British in front of his eyes. On retirement he was persuaded by
his Commanding Officer, Norgate, to write his memoirs. He completed the
writing in 1861 in Awadhi and Norgate translated it into English and had it
published under the title From Sepoy to Subedar.
Here is an excerpt from what Sitaram Pande wrote:
It is my humble opinion that this seizing of Oudh filled the minds of the
Sepoys with distrust and led them to plot against the Government. Agents
of the Nawab of Oudh and also of the King of Delhi were sent all over
India to discover the temper of the army. They worked upon the feelings
of sepoys, telling them how treacherously the foreigners had behaved
towards their king. They invented ten thousand lies and promises to
persuade the soldiers to mutiny and turn against their masters, the English,
with the object of restoring the Emperor of Delhi to the throne. They
maintained that this was wholly within the army’s powers if the soldiers
would only act together and do as they were advised.
Source 2
Fig. 3 – Rebel sepoys at Meerut attack officers, enter their homes and set fire to buildings
Source 2 contd.
© NCERT
not to be republished
55
It chanced that about this time the Sarkar sent
parties of men from each regiment to different
garrisons for instructions in the use of the new rifle.
These men performed the new drill for some time
until a report got about by some means or the other,
that the cartridges used for these new rifles were
greased with the fat of cows and pigs. The men from
our regiment wrote to others in the regiment telling
them about this, and there was soon excitement in
every regiment. Some men pointed out that in forty
years’ service nothing had ever been done by the
Sarkar to insult their religion, but as I have already
mentioned the sepoys’ minds had been inflamed by
the seizure of Oudh. Interested parties were quick
to point out that the great aim of the English was to
turn us all into Christians, and they had therefore
introduced the cartridge in order to bring this about,
since both Mahommedans and Hindus would be
defiled by using it.
The Colonel sahib was of the opinion that the
excitement, which even he could not fail to see, would
pass off, as it had done before, and he recommended
me to go to my home.
Sitaram Pande, From Sepoy to Subedar, pp. 162-63.
A Mutiny Becomes a Popular Rebellion
Though struggles between rulers and the ruled are not
unusual, sometimes such struggles become quite
widespread as a popular resistance so that the power of
the state breaks down. A very large number of people
begin to believe that they have a common enemy and
rise up against the enemy at the same time. For such
a situation to develop people have to organise,
communicate, take initiative and display the confidence
to turn the situation around.
Such a situation developed in the northern parts of
India in 1857. After a hundred years of conquest and
administration, the English East India Company faced
a massive rebellion that started in May 1857 and
threatened the Company’s very presence in India.
Sepoys mutinied in several places beginning from
Meerut and a large number of people from different
sections of society rose up in rebellion. Some regard it
as the biggest armed resistance to colonialism in the
nineteenth century anywhere in the world.
1.What were the
important concerns
in the minds of the
people according to
Sitaram and according
to Vishnubhatt?
2.What role did they
think the rulers were
playing? What role did
the sepoys seem to
play?
Activity

Mutiny – When soldiers
as a group disobey their
officers in the army
Source 2 contd.
WHEN PEOPLE REBEL
© NCERT
not to be republished
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