Discuss the short and long term consequences of the Indian Mutiny 1857

The Indian Mutiny brought a lot of changes to the Indian society even though it failed as a revolution for independence. It would be 90 years before the Indians get their independence. The mutiny had both short and long term consequences; I think that short term consequences are changes that happen up till three years after the mutiny (1860). I will talk about the short term consequences first and then the long term consequences.

After the mutiny the British realized they had to take more control, therefore they abolished the East India Company, brought the Mughal Empire to an end and declared Queen Victoria the ruler of India. This meant that Britain took over all territories owned by the East India Company. Then negotiations with the princes started and Britain tried to get all provinces under indirect control. The relationship between the Indians and the queen was considerable warm. Queen Victoria had a special affection for India and had a personal Indian advisor. The Indian people welcomed the direct rule and in 1877 this lead to the Queen announced Empress of India.

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The British army in India was before the mutiny mostly sepoys, there was a ratio of 1 British soldier for every ninth sepoy. The British saw this as a problem and reduced the amount of sepoys with 40% and raised the amount of British troops by 50% which lead to a 1:3 ratio. Recruitment of the sepoys also changed. Before 1857 many sepoys came from Hindu Brahmin and Rajput castes but those areas were where a lot of rebellions came from and the British feared a new mutiny if they kept recruiting sepoys from these areas. The recruiting therefore moved to the areas of the Sikh Punjab and the Muslim North-West, where people were a lot more loyal to the British crown.

One of the reasons for the start of the mutiny was the fact that Hindus had to use grease from cows which is the most sacred animal in the Hindu religion. Muslims had to use grease from pigs which is against their religion to eat. This was very serious problems for the sepoys. They had to go against their religion or the leader of their regiment. To solve this problem the British let troops use whatever grease they would like.

The mutiny also affected the Indian society later on. The British explained to the rest of Europe that India was undeveloped and they needed help from a more civilized country. That was why they stopped the mutiny and killed all people who fought against the British. Now when Britain had control of India they had to develop and civilize India. Therefore you can say that the investment in Indian education is a long term consequence of the Indian Mutiny.

Progress was slow but after some years an Indian middle class who could speak English was created. These were the people who later created the nationalist parties and kept fighting for Indian independence. Because of the better education of Indians they now started getting better jobs and some became lawyers and judges. Therefore the Ilbert bill was made. This stated that Indians were as qualified and experienced as any Briton. The British made it clear that they would not obey those rules. When the British stated they wouldn’t obey the rule, they also showed that they would never accept Indians as equals. This of course offended the Indian population, nationalist feelings rose and congress was formed.

The Indian Mutiny was the first try for independence. Even though the Indians didn’t get independence they got an idea of independence and they were willing to fight for it. When this is said it also gave problems for the Indian people. If they got their independence who would then rule? The Hindus made congress as their political organization, the Muslims made the all-India Muslim league. These political bodies could not come up with candidates and they did not have a word in the British government until the 1909 Indian Councils act which stated how many seats each organization, religion, college etc. had in the legislative councils.

In 1907 congress split. The moderates didn’t want to repeat the failure of the earlier mutiny they were alright with negotiation. The moderates thought that by achieving home rule India would get closer to independence far ahead in the future. Tilac and Beasent, leaders of the two home rule parties created in 1916, gained lots of success.

But home rule was still not considered as an option by the British. The radicals were willing to repeat the mutiny and wanted direct action to show the British that they were not satisfied with being ruled by Britain. Some of these radicals formed the Ghadr movement which published a paper in North America where they clearly stated that they were against the British rule of India. The British feared a new mutiny and acted fast by hanging 47 leaders and arresting around 200 people belonging to the movement. This put a stopper for the small local mutinies.

The Lucknow pact, signed December 1916, was also a long term consequence of the 1857 Mutiny. The Mutiny had started the thoughts of independence in the different religious political parties. The Muslims and the Hindus were both fighting for independence but they were also fighting against each other. They both wanted to have the power and rule a future independent India. In 1916 they realized that by working together they would achieve more, faster. They planned on who would have power in each province and how much. The two earlier rivals in India were now ready for independence by working together.

Britain who had lost power in the 1st world war had also lost the respect they had from the Indians who had participated in the war. They had seen that Britain was no more civilized than India. Now Britain couldn’t use the white man’s burden as an excuse for ruling India. Britain needed the resources India gave them but they were losing grip of the more and more independent India, and this culminated in the Amritzar massacre.

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