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1. What was the demand of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi that was refused by the British?

Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi wanted the company to recognize her adopted son as the heir to the kingdom after the death of her husband. But the British refused to accept her adopted son as the ruler of Jhansi. By ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ introduced by Lord Dalhousie, if an Indian ruler died without a male heir his kingdom would ‘lapse’ and such kingdom would be annexed by the British Empire.

2. What did the British do to protect the interests of those who converted to Christianity?

The British believed that the Indian society had to be reformed, so they planned and implemented new laws which prohibits the practice of sati and promote widow remarriage. To protect the interest of the Christianity they took the following step :

  1. After 1830 the East India company allowed Christian missionaries to function freely in its domain.
  2. New laws were passed to make conversion to Christianity easier which allowed an Indian who had converted to Christianity to inherit the property of ancestors.
  3. Christians were provided with free education, financial help, etc.

3. How did the last Mughal Emperor live the last years of his life?

Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Emperor of the Mughal dynasty. Although after Aurangzeb, there was no powerful Mughal ruler, the Mughal Emperors continued to be symbolically important. In fact, when a massive rebellion against British broke out in 1857, Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Mughal Emperor at that time, was persuaded and declared as the leader by the rebellions. He played an important role in the revolt of 1857 against the British. Once the revolt was suppressed Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried in court, blinded and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sons were shot dead in cold blood before him. At last he and his wife were sent to prison in Rangoon in October, 1858. Bahadur Shah Zafar died in Rangoon jail in November, 1862.

4. What could be the reasons for the confidence of the British rulers about their position in India before May 1857?

The British rulers were very confident about their position in India before May, 1857. The reasons for the confidence of were:-

  1. There were several riots, rebellion and revolts which occurred before May, 1857. But all these were localized and were suppressed by the British then and there.
  2. In the mid 18th century, the powers of Nawabs, Rajas, Zamindars etc. were eroded. The freedom of the Indian rulers was reduced, their armed forces were disbanded, and their revenue and territories were taken by stages.
  3. The Mughal Emperor had lost its control over the provinces. The traditional rulers fought among themselves and could not present a united front against a powerful foreign rule.
  4. Residents had been stationed in many courts by the British as their representatives. These residents kept informing the governors about the important developments in every kingdom.
  5. Indian princes and chiefs whom the British had allowed to continue used to side with the British during revolts before May, 1857.

So, the British were very confident that their position in India was very strong and no one could challenge them in anyway before May, 1857. The revolt was a great shock to them as they thought the disturbance caused by the issue of the cartridges would also die down and never expected that this could take the shape of such a massive rebellion.

5. What impact did Bahadur Shah Zafar's support to the rebellion have on the people and the ruling families?

There was a wide spread impact on the people of the whole country and its ruling families after Bahadur Shah Zafar accepted leadership and extended his support to the rebellion. He wrote letters to all the chiefs and rulers of the country to come forward and organize a confederacy of Indian states to fight the British. This single step taken by Bahadur Shah had great implications. All small and big kingdoms, kings, Nawabs, Rajas, princes, zamindars, chiefs and even many Hindu and Muslim religious leaders welcomed this initial step taken by the Emperor and joined hands to rebel against the British. Regiment after regiment mutinied and started to join other troops at nodal points like- Delhi, Kanpur and Lucknow. The people of towns and villages also joined the rebellion in mass and rallied around local leaders, zamindars and rulers who were prepared to regain their lost authority and fight against the British. The British had not expected this to happen. They thought that like many other revolts which occurred in the past, this revolt would also die down. But Bahadur Shah Zafar’s decision to bless the rebellion changed the situation dramatically. This filled the people with inspiration, enthusiasm, courage, hope and confidence to rise up to the situation and act against the British.

6. In what ways did the British change their policies as a result of the rebellion of 1857?

As a result of the rebellion of 1857, the British changed their policies. Following are the important changes that the British made:

  1. The powers of the East India Company was transferred to the British Crown in order to ensure a more responsible management of Indian affairs.
  2. The Governor -General of India was given the title of Viceroy, that is a personal representative of the Crown.
  3. All ruling chiefs of the country were assured that their territory would never be annexed in future. They were allowed to pass on their kingdom to their heirs, including adopted son. But they had to acknowledge the British queen as their Sovereign Paramount.
  4. The proportion of Indians in the English army was reduced. All important posts were given to the Europeans only.
  5. The proclamation assured to the Indians that the British would not interfere in the religious and social affairs of Indians.
  6. The land and property of the Muslims were confiscated and they were treated with suspicion and hostility.

7. Write a note on the annexation of Awadh.

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.

8. Who was Tantia Tope?

Tantia Tope was one of the national heroes who played a significant role during India's First War of Independence, the Revolt of 1857. He was military advisor of Peshwa chieftain, Nana Saheb. The chief burden of fighting on the behalf of Nana Sahib felt on the shoulder of Tantia Tope. He achieved great fame for his patriotism, bravery and skillful guerrilla operations. He was master of political propaganda.

9. How did the Company plan to bring an end to the Mughal dynasty?

  1. As the first step, the name of the Mughal king was removed from the coins minted by the company.
  2. In 1849 Governor - General Dalhousie announced that after the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Mughal family would be shifted out of the Red Fort and given another place in Delhi to live in.
  3. In 1856, Governor General Lord Canning decided that Bahadur Shah Zafar would be the last Mughal king and after his death his descendants would be known as princes.

10. Mention any two social reforms introduced by the British in the Indian society? How did the people of India respond to them?

The British introduced several reforms:

  1. They passed laws to stop the practice of sati and to encourage the remarriage of widows.
  2. They promoted English language education.

Many Indians began to feel that the British were destroying their religion, their social customs and their traditional way of life. But at the same time there were other Indians who readily accepted the reforms introduced by the British. In fact, they wanted to change existing social practices.

11. What did happen in Meerut after the hanging of Mangal Pandey in Barrackpore?

  • On 29th March 1857, a young soldier, Mangal Pandey, was hanged to death for attacking his officers in Barrackpore.
  • Some sepoys of the regiment at Meerut refused to do the army drill using the new cartridges, as they suspected the cartridges being coated with the fat of cows and pigs.
  • Eighty five sepoys were dismissed from service and sentenced to ten years in jail on 9th May, 1857.

 12. Describe the resentment which brewed among the peasants and the sepoys.

Peasants' resentment

  • In the villages peasants and zamindars resented the high taxes and also the rigid methods of revenue collection
  • Many of them failed to pay back their loans to the money lenders.
  • They gradually lost the lands which they had tilled for generations.

Indian sepoys' resentments.

  • They were unhappy about their pay, allowances and conditions of service.
  • Some of the new rules, violated their religious sensibilities and beliefs.
  • In 1824, the sepoys refused to go to Burma by the sea route to fight for the Company, but agreed to go by the land route.
  • Sepoys also reacted against the happenings in the country side.
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