Critically examine the view that 1857 was not the first armed revolt against the British, Analyse the nature and causes of early revolts.
The British rulers met with stiff resistance from the Indian people right from the beginning of their rule in India. During the entire period from the battle of Plassey till 1856 when the British conquest of India was practically complete, hardly an year passed without an outbreak of armed revolt in some part of the country or other. The initial period of naked plunder followed by systematic exploitation of the country in the interests of the dominant sections of British society antagonised vast sections of the Indian people. The loss of power by the Indian princes and nobles ruined large numbers of people – officials, soldiers, craftsmen whose work and livelihood had been connected with the courts. The icnreased revenue demands by foreign rulers led to the worsening of the conditions of the peasants. Heavy demands were made on the zamindars and chiefs who were dispossessed if they failed to meet them. The tribal people were deprived of their traditional rights and brought under the exploitative system established by the British. Throughout the first century of British rule in India, the peasants, the tribal people, the zamindars and chiefs, and other sections rose up in revolt in every part of the country at different times. They were often joined by the disbanded soldiers of former Indian rulers. There were also mutinies by the sepoys. In some places, the people resorted to hartals to resist new taxes. The leaders of this almost unbroken chain of outbreaks were mostly old zamindars and tribal chiefs, and, sometimes, religious leaders. Though some of them persisted over long years and it took the British rulers a long time and vast resources to suppress them, these revolts, being generally localized, did not pose a serious challenge to the British rule in India.