The events that occurred throughout 1857 and 1858 in India played a colossal part in the history of the world, from the causes to events to consequences, the famous incidents are still remembered today. However were the events really that significant or were they just an interesting story to hear about? From the day that the British set foot on Indian land, both sides knew that issues would arise but no one thought that it would come to that. To help one decide how significant the events were, you have to look at the three major points; causes, events and consequences.
The key causes of the events, revealed to us what the attitude was like at the time, showing us a glimpse of what both countries were thinking. The first major cause was the suppression and interference of many religious Hindu practices such as sati in 1829 and thuggee which was completed in 1837, this showed us that the British were fairly intolerant when it came to the Indians and their beliefs. This implies that Indians believed extremely strongly in their religion and beliefs, they made sure that they stood for what they believe in, this cause was constantly angering the Indians therefore making it an underlying yet important cause. This brings us to think that the events were particularly significant as religion will always play a big part in India. Personally this is one of the most significant causes as it was always there, it had angered the Indians but they chose to remain calm as they were trustworthy soldiers nevertheless it was predicted that this would be one of the greatest causes.
Subsequently this led to another key cause which occurred in 1857 itself, when the British created a new weapon using cartridges ‘smeared with lard and animal fat in order to grease them’, this was named the Enfield rifle. The sepoys were expected to bite off the top however they refused, even though they were loyal soldiers to the British they could not allow themselves to offend their religion. Muslims consider cows to be sacred, therefore they were not allowed to bite the top off, whereas Muslims consider pigs to be unclean and unsanitary, making it impossible to either. The Enfield rifle triggered the anger in all those Indians who had to deal with the interference of religion after all those years, it was a necessary cause for the rebellion to actually happen, and it motivated the Indians to release all the frustration from the many years before.
The Doctrine of Lapse is another example of how significant the events were, for instance the East India Company had ignored treaties they had made with the Indian princes’ in order to gain more land however the Indians did not want this. The Doctrine of Lapse was a policy devised by a governor which enabled the East India Company to take over the land of a king who had died without having produced a natural heir.
The most well-known case of this was in 1853 when the Raja of Jhansi died, however he had an heir but he had an adopted one, furthermore the East India Company did not believe this child to be a rightful heir and so they took control of the land leaving Jhansi in the hands of the British. The events reveal that the Indian side wanted their land back because they knew that it belonged to them, whereas the British believed that they had a right to take it. This cause was a political and underlying cause although it may not be as significant as the many other causes.
Another cause was the modernisation that the East India Company were pursuing, they wanted India to be a modern country so that they themselves could have had something to show from all their work in India. ‘Railways were built, telegraph and postal networks were also expanded’, this allowed them to take in a lot more trading. The events revealed that India wanted to remain the same, no modern railways or complicated systems, the Brahmins were the most terrified of the changes as they did not want to