Social and Cultural Awakening, Debendranath Tagore and Causes for the Revolt

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Social and Cultural Awakening

Raja Rammohan Roy

RRM Roy was a social reformer and intellectual in the early nineteenth century Bengal. He is most widely known for founding the Brahmo Samaj and his relentless campaign against the practice of Sati and child marriage.

Debendranath Tagore

Brahmo Samaj

BS was founded in 1828 by Raja Ram Mohan Roy with the purpose of purifying Hinduism and to preach monotheism or belief in one God.


  • Indian national movement: One of the biggest. Inspired many others.
  • Gandhian Political Strategy very important.
  • Elements of Gandhian Strategy can be seen in the Solidarity Movement in Poland by Lech Walesa

Why Is The Indian National Movement Unique?

  • In the Indian national movement, the Gramscian perspective of war of position was successfully practiced.
  • It provides the only historical example of a semi-democratic or democratic type of political structure being successfully replaced or transformed.
  • State power was not seized in a moment of revolution, but through prolonged popular struggle on moral, political and ideological reserves.
  • It is also an example of how the constitutional space offered by the existing structure could be used without getting coopted by it.
  • Diverse perspectives and ideologies

Why Study National Movement?

The path that India has followed since 1947 has deep roots in the struggle for independence.

Outstanding Features of The Freedom Struggle

  • Values and modern ideals on which it was based
  • Vision of the leaders: democratic, civil libertarian and secular India, based on a self-reliant, egalitarian social order and an independent foreign policy
  • The movement popularized democratic ideas and institutions in India
  • The strong civil libertarian and democratic tradition of the national movement was reflected in the constitution of independent India.
  • Pro-poor orientation
  • Secular
  • A non-racist, anti-imperialist outlook which continues to characterize Indian foreign policy was the part of the legacy of the anti-imperialist struggle.
  • India՚s freedom struggle was basically the result of fundamental contradiction between the interests of the Indian people and that of British colonialism.

Revolt of 1857

  • During the Governor-General Lord Canning
  • May 11,1857. The Meerut incident. Capture of Delhi. Proclaiming B S Jazar as the emperor.
  • Almost half the Company՚s sepoy strength of 232224 opted out of their loyalty to their regimental colors.
  • Kanpur: Nana Saheb; Lucknow: Begum Hazrat Mahal; Bareilly: Khan Bahadur; Jagdishpur (Ara) : Kunwar Singh; Jhansi: Rani Lakshmi Bai
  • Only the Madras army remained totally loyal. Sikh regiment as well remained largely loyal.

Causes for the Revolt

The revolt was a result of the accumulated grievances of the people against Company՚s administration and a loathing for the character and policies of the colonial rule. The causes can be classified as social, economic, religious and military. < In class notes >

Why Did the Sepoys Revolt?

  • The conditions of service in the Company՚s army and cantonments increasingly came into conflict with the religious beliefs and prejudices of the sepoys.
  • The unhappiness of the sepoys first surfaced in 1824 when the 47th Regiment of Barrackpur was ordered to go to Burma. To the religious Hindu, crossing the sea meant loss of caste. The sepoys refused. The regiment was disbanded and those who led the opposition were hanged.
  • The rumors about the Government՚s secret designs to promote conversions to Christianity further exasperated the sepoys.
  • The greased cartridges
  • They were also unhappy with the emoluments
  • Discrimination and racism
  • Misery brought to the peasants by the British rule. E. g. the land revenue system imposed in Oudh, where about 75000 sepoys came from, was very harsh.
  • After the capture of Delhi, a letter was issued to the neighboring states asking for support.
  • A court of administrators was established in Delhi
  • Ill-equipped, the rebels carried on the struggle for about a year
  • The country as a whole was not behind them. The merchants, intelligentsia and Indian rulers not only kept aloof but actively supported the British.
  • Almost half the Indian soldiers not only did not revolt but fought against their own countrymen.
  • Apart from a commonly shared hatred for alien rule, the rebels had no political perspective or definite vision of the future
  • Delhi fell on September 20,1857.
  • Rani of Jhansi died fighting on June 17,1858
  • Nana Saheb escaped to Nepal hoping to revive the struggle.
  • Kunwar Singh died on May 9,1958
  • Tantia tope carried on guerrilla warfare until April 1959 after which he was betrayed by a zamindar, captured and put to death.