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Lord Curzon occupies a high place among the rulers of British India like Lord Wellesley and Lord Dalhousie. He was a thorough imperialist. In order to make the administration efficient, Lord Curzon overhauled the entire administrative machinery. His internal administration may be studied under the following heads:


Curzon took a serious view of the fall in the standard of education and discipline in the educational institutions. In his view the universities had degenerated into the factories for producing political revolutionaries. To set the educational system in order, he instituted in 1902, a universities commission to go into the entire question of university education in the country.

On the basis of the findings and recommendations of the commission, Curzon brought in the Indian Universities Act of 1904, which brought all the universities in India under the control of the government.



Curzon believed in efficiency and discipline. He instituted a Police Commission in 1902 under the chairmanship of Sir Andrew Frazer. Curzon accepted all the recommendations and implemented them. He set up training schools for both the officers and the constables and introduced provincial police service. As for the remodelling of the army, it was by and large done by Lord Kitchener, the Commander-in-Chief in India in Curzon’s time.



The Viceroy brought in a new legislative measure namely the Calcutta Corporation Act in 1899 by which the strength of the elected members was reduced and that of the official members increased. Curzon gave more representations to the English people as against the Indians in the Calcutta Corporation. There was strong resentment by the Indian members against Curzon’s anti-people measure




The Basic principle of Indian foreign policy is live and let live. All our neighbours are path of prosperity therefore till ancient times till now India has followed the policy of live and let live.e.g., Dhamma mission by Ashoka, non-alignment movement by Nehru, Cultural expansion by Man Mohan Singh but with the beginning of British Rule in India i.e., from 1757 for their personal interest and protect India from foreign invasion Britishers reverse this policy and adopted the policy of war and aggression e.g., War towards Burma and Afghanistan.

When Curzon arrived in India the expansionist world powers like France, Germany etc. They became threat for India and in this situation Curzon revived the policy of aggression and the two victims were Persia and Tibet.

  1. Persia: Persia was the old name of Iran. French were interfering in affairs of Persia and in spite of repeated warning by Curzon the shah of Persia was not relenting in this situation Curzon send a military expedition under Sir major Douglas and himself visited Persia and after which Persia aligned with British cause in Central Asia.
  2. Tibet: Tibet is called the roof of the world and oxygen level is minimum in the area so the people of Tibet have to compulsory perform Bardo, the yogic Practice and this is the reason the people of Tibet are naturally spiritual. Russians were interfering in the matters of Tibet and lama of Tibet refuse to remove Russians from Tibet and this led to second military expedition under young husband and Tibet brought in line.



Curzon had a passion for preserving the ancient monuments of historical importance in India. No Viceroy in India before or after him took such a keen interest in archaeological objects. He passed a law called the Ancient Monuments Act, 1904 which made it obligatory on the part of the government and local authorities to preserve the monuments of archaeological importance and their destruction an offence.



  1. Land Resolution Act 1900
  2. Punjab Land alienation act 1902
  3. Establishment of Cooperative Banks
  4. Promotion of irrigation




The Partition of Bengal into two provinces was effected on 4 July 1905. The new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam included the whole of Assam and the Dacca, Rajshahi and Chittagong divisions of Bengal with headquarters at Dacca. Though Curzon justified his action on administrative lines, partition divided the Hindus and Muslims in Bengal. This led to the anti-partition agitation all over the country. This had also intensified the National Movement.

References:  http://holisticthought.com/india-under-the-british-lord-curzon/, Wiki, Modern India Spectrum.




Khilafat Movement

Khilafat Movement


The Khilafat movement (1919–1924) was a pan-Islamic, political protest campaign launched by Muslims in British India to influence the British government and to protect the Ottoman Empire during the aftermath of World War I. The movement gained force after the Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920) which imposed the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire and gave Greece a powerful position in Anatolia, to the distress of the Turks. The movement won the support of Mahatma Gandhi and the predominantly Hindu Congress movement because of its anti-British overtones. In India, although mainly a Muslim religious movement, the movement became a part of the wider Indian independence movement.

Background to Khilafat.

Turkey’s an ally of Germany in WWI  was defeated. Thrace was presented to Greece while the Asiatic portions of Turkey passed to England and France. Thus Turkey was dispossessed of her homelands and the Sultan deprived of all real authority and also caliphate was abolished. Being a Caliph, the Ottoman emperor was nominally the supreme religious and political leader of all Muslims across the world.  Indian Muslims regarded this as a great betrayal andthey regarded the Turkish Sultan as their Khalifa and they started Khilafat movement for the restoration of Khalifa in Turkey.

Course of the Movement:

The Khilafat Committee led by Mohammed Ali and Shaukat Ali (Ali Brothers) headquartered at Lucknow, formally launched the Khilafat Movement on August 31, 1920. They aimed to build political unity amongst Muslims and use their influence to protect the caliphate. In 1920, they published the Khilafat Manifesto, which called upon the British to protect the caliphate and for Indian Muslims to unite and hold the British accountable for this purpose.

They called upon Gandhi to guide them. Immediately after this, the Indian National Congress convened a special Session in September 1920 in Calcutta, where Gandhi presented a plan for non-cooperation with the government till the wrongs in Punjab and those in Turkey were mended by the British. Seeking to increase pressure on the British, the Khilafatists became a major part of the Non-cooperation movement — a nationwide campaign of mass, peaceful civil disobedience.

Massive protests, strikes and acts of civil disobedience spread across India. Hindus and Muslims collectively offered resistance, which was largely peaceful. Gandhi, the Ali brothers and others were imprisoned by the British. Under the flag of Tehrik-e-Khilafat, a Punjab Khilafatdeputation comprising MoulanaManzoor Ahmed and MoulanaLutfullah Khan Dankauri R.A. took a leading role throughout India, with a particular concentration in the Punjab.

Although Khilafat movement was not directly concerned with Indian politics, Gandhi thought that in this there was an opportunity to unite the Hindu and Muslims against the British. He therefore, openly supported the movement.

Decline and Collapse of the movement:

However, the Congress-Khilafat alliance began withering soon. The Khilafat campaign had been opposed by other political parties such as the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha. Many Hindu religious and political leaders identified the Khilafat cause as Islamic fundamentalism based on a pan-Islamic agenda. And many Muslim leaders viewed the Indian National Congress as becoming increasingly dominated by Hindu fundamentalists.

Central Khilafat Committee participated in All parties Conference, which formed a committee under the Chairmanship of MotiLal Nehru to draft a constitution, which came to be known as “Nehru Report”[1928]. Khilafat Committee rejected Nehru Report.

In wake of these disturbances, the Ali brothers began distancing themselves from Gandhi and the Congress. The Ali brothers criticised Gandhi’s extreme commitment to non-violence and severed their ties with them after he suspended all non-cooperation movement after the killing of 23 policemen at ChauriChaura in 1922. Although holding talks with the British and continuing their activities, the Khilafat struggle weakened as Muslims were divided between working for the Congress, the Khilafat cause and the Muslim League.Another reason was that members of the movement were concerned with the fate of khalifa than were the western powers and the people of Turkey.

The final blow came with the victory of Mustafa Kemal’s forces, who overthrew the Ottoman rule to establish a pro-Western, secular republic in independent Turkey. He abolished the role of Caliph and sought no help from Indians.

Leaders such as Dr. Ansari, Maulana Azad and Hakim Ajmal Khan remained strong supporters of Gandhi and the Congress. The Ali brothers joined Muslim League. They would play a major role in the growth of the League’s popular appeal and the subsequent Pakistan movement.

Criticism of the Movement:

  1. It is regarded as a political agitation based on a pan-Islamic, fundamentalist platform and being largely indifferent to the cause of Indian independence.
  2. Critics of the Khilafat see its alliance with the Congress as a marriage of convenience.
  3. Advocates of Pakistan and Muslim separatism see it as a major step towards establishing the separate Muslim state.
  4. The Ali brothers came to be regarded as founding-fathers of Pakistan.

Impact of the movement:

  • The support of the Khilafatists helped Gandhi and the Congress ensure Hindu-Muslim unity during the struggle. Gandhi described his feelings towards Mohammad Ali as “love at first sight” to underscore his feelings of solidarity.
  • Proponents of the Khilafat see it as the spark that led to the non-cooperation movement in India and a major milestone in improving Hindu-Muslim relations
  • Khilafat leaders such as Dr. Ansari, Maulana Azad and Hakim Ajmal Khan also grew personally close to Gandhi. These leaders founded the JamiaMilliaIslamia in 1920 to promote independent education and social rejuvenation for Muslims.
  • Azad, Dr. Ansari and Hakim Ajmal Khan became national heroes in India’s independence.


Was Khilafat Movement a new chapter in Hindu Muslim Unity or was a closing chapter?

The period 1919-22 is understood as the heyday of Hindu-Muslim unity against the colonial rule. This was the period when the leaderships of Congress and the Khilafat movement often overlapped. This was in tune with Gandhi’s idea that British can be fought only with united Hindus and Muslims. Strikes, demonstrations, and Satyagrahas took place around the country, while ‘Hindu-Musalmanki Jai was the famous slogan.

But the above was just ephemeral. After 1922 a series of differences between the Khilafat and Non-Cooperation leaderships intersected with growing popular conflict between Hindu and Muslim communities. Some section of Muslims started to see the futility of Swaraj and fresh interest was awakened in the Muslim league which had been stagnant since 1918.

The most ardent khilafatists started to believe that there was more to be gained by supporting government in its honest efforts than by adhering to the hitherto non-cooperation . Many Muslim leaders raised fears and doubts about the capacity of India to win freedom through civil disobedience. As a result of this, the old dissensions, based upon complaints like cow-slaughter and music before mosque, were raised up and issues of disagreement such as Suddhi Movement or tabligh and sangathan or tanzim were added.

The Hindu Muslim Unity was shattered, giving way to a period of “communalism”. This was the sad demise of the Hindu-Muslim unity as marking a turning point in the freedom struggle. The disintegrated state of affairs then offered an opportunity to the British to re-establish their old relations with the Muslims. They were able to successfully bring the Muslims into their loyalists fold. The so called bond of fraternity turned out to be an ad hoc coalition of interests. India was now on a path to partition.

How Government seeded hate?

The Government created commissions and commissions on one another with an undeclared motive of creating mutual apprehensions and mistrusts. It was the time when the top leaders including Gandhi were failed to understand the political implications of his extensions of support to the cause of Khilafat. Practically, the leaders of Khilafat needed support of Gandhiji only for a defined particular purpose.

Most of the constitutional acts were there to ensure that there was a constant creation of mutual mistrust among the communities. It was made sure that people would understand that the benefit of one caste / community was at the cost of those of others


Swadeshi Movement

 Swadeshi Movement

Origin: Swadeshi movement had its genesis in the anti-partition movement which was stated to oppose the British decision to partition Bengal. The british announced the decision in December 1903 quoting the reason, that the population of Bengal is higher and administration become difficult. This was true to some extent but the actual reason for partition is to weaken the nerve center of the nationalism.

The idea of British was to divide the Bengal based on

  1. Language as Bengal had minority of population in strength when compare to Hindi
  2. Religionwas another tactic to divide the Bengal as the western part of Bengal had Hindu majority and the eastern part of Bengal had Muslim majority.


Anti-partition Campaign under moderates:During this period leadership was provided by Surendernath bannergee, K.K.Mitra and Prithwishchandra Ray. They adopted petitions to government, public meetings, memoranda, and propaganda through pamphlets and newspaper such as Hitabadi, Sanjibani and Bengalee. Their objective was to exert the pressure on the government through an educated public opinion in India and England to prevent the unjust partition of Bengal from being implemented.


Announcement of partition:Ignoring the public opinion against the partition proposal , the government announced partition of Bengal in July 1905. Within days, protest meetings were held in small towns all over bengal. In this meetings that the pledge to boycott foreign goods was first taken but formal proclamation of swedeshi movement was made in august 07, 1905 in boycott resolution held in town hall , culcutta.


In October 16, 1905, the day the partition formally came into force, was observed as a day of mourning throughout the Bengal. People bathed in ganges and walked in barefoot in procession singing Bande Mataram. This song become the theme song of the movement. People tied Rakhis on each others hand as a symbol of unity of the two halves of the bengal.

The movement later spread to other part of the countries like poona, Bombay, Delhi and Madras.

The Congress position: The indian national congress, meeting in 1905 under the presidentship of Gokhale, resolved to

  1. Condemn the partition of Bengal and the reactionary policies of Curzon
  2. Support the anti-partition and swadeshi movement of Bengal

Militant nationalist wanted to take out the movement to other parts of the Bengal but the moderates were opposing it. In Calcutta session (1906) under the presidentship of Dadabhai Naoroji, it’s declare that the goal of INC was ‘Self government or Swaraj like the United Kingdom or colonies’.

The moderates-extremist dispute reached to deadlock at suraj session where the party split.


Techniques used in Swadeshi movement:

The militant nationalist put forward several fresh ideas at te theoretical, propagandistic, and programmatic plane. Their idea was to convert the movement of boycott into full-fledged non-cooperation movement and passive resistance but some militants were keeping the option of violent resistance too.

Public meetings and procession emerged as major methods of mass mobilization and simultaneously as forms of popular expression.  Meetings were held in all the levels right from district to village levels. This movements were the foundations for the later national movements.

Forming the samiti was another technique used by the extremist which reached even the remotest places of the district to generate the mass movement.

Celebrating the festivals and offering the meals were the techniques used to reach a mass. Ganapati festival and Shivaji festivals, popularized by Tilak became the medium for Swadeshi propaganda and this helped the movement vigorous not only in western but also in bengal.  Jatra, traditional folk theatre forms were extensively used to disseminate the swadeshi movement.

Another important aspect of this movement was ‘Atmasakti’ or self-reliance in various filed meant reasserting of national dignity, honor and confidence. It was, perhaps in the cultural sphere that the impact of swadeshi movement was most marked.

Drawbacks of the Swadeshi movement:

This movement was not supported by the mass muslims especially the peasantry class. During this period the All india muslim league was set up with the support of British government.

Swadeshi movement caused Negative consequences, implanted by Mullahs and Maulvis during the time of communal riots in the Bengal.

Popular customs and festivals techniques were misinterpreted and distorted by the communalist backed by the state.

Communal forces saw the narrowness in the religious identities in the tradition forms and festivals

Reason for failure of Swadeshi movement:

Repression took in the form of controls and bans on public meetings and processions and the press.

Students participated in this movement were expelled from the colleges , debarred from the government services.

Internal conflicts, especially the split happedn in 1907 weakened the movement.

Swadeshi movement lacked effective organization and party structure. All these movements were not converted into reality as a political practice.

The mass movement were not able to sustain the force of the movement as the movement suffered severe repression from the government.

Basics of Music


Basics of Music

What is Music:

Music is an art form whose medium is sound. In its most general form the activities describing music as an art form include the production of works of music, the criticism of music, the study of the history of music, and the aesthetic dissemination of music. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; “art of the Muses“).

The music of India includes multiple varieties of folk music, pop, and Indian classical music. India’s classical music tradition, including Hindustani music and Carnatic, has a history spanning millennia and developed over several eras. Music in India began as an integral part of socio-religious life.

Basics of Music:

The two main traditions of classical music are Carnatic music, found predominantly in the peninsular regions, and Hindustani music, found in the northern, eastern and central regions. The basic concepts of this music includes shruti (microtones), swara (notes), alankar (ornamentations), raga (melodies improvised from basic grammars), and tala (rhythmic patterns used in percussion). Its tonal system divides the octave into 22 segments called shrutis, not all equal but each roughly equal to one quarter of a whole tone of Western music.





The number of sounds that the human ear can hear, in an octave, is infinite.  But the number of sounds that it can discern, differentiate, or grasp, is 22. They are called shruti-s (microtones).  Shruti has been variously translated as: microtone, microtonic interval, interval, step etc. It is mainly determined through fine auditory perception. It has been used in several contexts throughout the history of Indian music. Shruti in Indian Music is the musical pitch. Basically it is a note from which all others are derived Bharata Muni uses shruti to mean the interval between two notes such that the difference between them is perceptible. In other words, shruti, in the context of Indian music, is considered the smallest interval of pitch that the human ear can detect. It is an expression in the mind of the listeners.

Swaras :

In Indian Classsical music, Swara is a Sanskrit word that means a note in the octave. There are seven main swaras known as Saptak.

  1. Shadj (Sa)
  2. Rishabh (Ri in Carnatic music and Re in Hindustani)
  3. Gandhar (Ga)
  4. Madyam (Ma)
  5. Pancham (Pa)
  6. Dhaivat (Dha)
  7. Nishad (Ni)

These seven swaras are further divided into twelve notes. Collectively these notes are known as the sargam (the word is an acronym of the consonants of the first four swaras). Sargam is the Indian equivalent to solfege, a technique for the teaching of sight-singing. The tone Sa is not associated with any particular pitch. As in Western moveable-Do solfège, Sa refers to the tonic of a piece or scale rather than to any particular pitch.

Raga :

Raga is the system of scales which is associated with the melodic pattern of Hindustani music system. A raga uses a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is constructed. Understanding the concept of ‘Thaat’  is important to understand the complex structure of ragas. The term Thaat refers to the basic pattern in which the seven notes of the Saptak are arranged. Thaat is the parent scale from which the raga is derived.

To South Asian musicians, raga is the most important concept in music making, and the classification of ragas plays a major role in Indian music theory. In northern India, ragas are classified according to such characteristics as mood, season, and time; in southern India, ragas are grouped by the technical traits of their scales. The two systems may use different names for similar ragas or the same name for different ragas. There are several hundred ragas in present use, and thousands are possible in theory.

Traditionally, ragas were associated with specific times of day and seasons of the year, and they were thought to have supernatural effects such as bringing rain or causing fire. While some of the seasonal associations are maintained by certain musicians, these restrictions are largely ignored in modern concert life, as most public performances take place in the evening and are concentrated in the cooler parts of the year. Nevertheless, in program notes or verbal introductions, musicians often refer to the traditional associations of time and season.

In Indian classical music, there are about 200 main ragas, each of which is defined by its unique combination of scale-pattern, dominant notes and specific rules. The most popular ragas are: Bahar, Bhairavi, Sindhu Bhairavi, Bhim Palasi, Darbari, Desh, Hamsadhwani, Jai Jayanti, Megha Malhar, Todi, Yaman, Pilu, Shyam Kalyan, Khambaj.

Jati :

The number of notes in ascending or descending movements of a Raga is called its Jati. There are a total of 9 jatis. There are three basic Jatis:

  1. Sampoorana -containing seven notes,
  2. Shaudava – containing six notes, and
  3. Audava – containing five notes.



Tala or Taal (literally a “clap”), is the term used in Indian classical music for the rhythmic pattern of any composition and for the entire subject of rhythm, roughly corresponding to metre in Western music, though closer conceptual equivalents are to be found in the older system of rhythmic mode and its relations with the “foot” of classical poetry, or with other Asian classical systems such as the notion of usul in the theory of Ottoman/Turkish music.

Taal is the beat or rhythm of a music composition. The beats of a Taal are divided into Vibaags, which gives a taal its unique texture. There are hundreds of Taal in Hindustani music and the most popular one is the sixteen beat or Teentaal. Other common taals of Hindustani music include Dhammar, Ek, Jhoomra, Chau talas and Jhap or Rupak talas. . The most common instrument for keeping rhythm in Hindustani music is the tabla, while in Carnatic music it is the mridangam.


A Bhajan is any type of Hindu devotional song. It has no fixed form: it may be as simple as a mantra or kirtan or as sophisticated as the dhrupad or kriti with music based on classical ragas and talas.[1] It is normally lyrical, expressing love for the Divine. The name, a cognate of bhakti, meaning religious devotion, suggests its importance to the bhakti movement that spread from the south of India throughout the entire subcontinent in the Moghul era.

Bhajans by Kabir, Mirabai, Surdas, Tulsidas and a few others are considered to be classic. The language of their works is influenced by several of the dialects of Hindi. They are widely enjoyed even among those who do not speak Hindi.


Abhang is a form of devotional poetry sung in praise of the Hindu god Vitthala, also known as Vithoba. The word abhang comes from a for ‘non-‘ and bhang for ‘ending’ or ‘interrupting’, in other words, a flawless, continuous process, in this case referring to a poem. By contrast, the devotional songs known as Bhajans focus on the inward journey; abhangs are more exuberant expressions of the communitarian experience. Abhanga is considered a form of the ovi. Abhangs are sung during pilgrimage to the temples of Pandharpur.

Bhajan starts with the Naman(invocation of god), followed by the Roopancha Abhang (Portraying the physical beauty of god by personifying in the human form) and towards the end, Bhajans giving Spiritual and Ethical messages are sung. Some Famous Musicians in Abhangs are Bhimsen Joshi, Suresh Wadkar,Ranjani, Gayatri,Aruna Sairam and Jitendra Abhisheki. It is a form of music performed by both Classical and Non-Classical Musicians. It has nowadays become an integral part in Bhajan concerts across South India.


Kriti is a format of a musical composition typical to Carnatic music, an Indian classical music style. Kritis form the backbone of any typical Carnatic music concert and is the longer format of a Carnatic music song. Conventional Kritis typically contain three parts

  • Pallavi, the equivalent of a refrain in Western music
  • Anupallavi, the second verse, which is sometimes optional
  • Charanam, the final (and longest) verse that wraps up the song

The charanam usually borrows patterns from the anupallavi. The charanam’s last line usually contains the composer’s signature, or mudra, with which the composer leaves their mark.


Describe the nature and extent of the armed revolts against the British during the latter half of the 19th century. What was their chief handicap? Why did they fail?

Describe the nature and extent of the armed revolts  against the British during the latter half of the 19th century. What  was their chief handicap? Why did they fail?


In  different parts of the country, the  popular  discontent against  British  rule manifested itself in  armed  revolts  even after  the  great  uprising  of  1857  had  been  crushed.  These continued  throughout  the remaining years of the  19th  century. Peasants,  tribal  people, certain religious sects and,  in  some cases, sections of old ruling families were up in arms.


The  first  of  these, the indigo revolts  in  lower  Bengal (1859-62)  and  North Bihar (1866-68) were  against  the  British planters  who forced peasants to cultivate indigo and sell it  to them at prices fixed by the planters.


These  were followed by peasant uprising in Patna and  Bogra in  Bengal (1872-76) Maharashtra (1874-75, 1878-79) and Rampa  in Andhra  (1879-80),  against the oppression of  landlords,  money-lenders  and the British authorities. A very important book  Neel darpan by Dina Bandu Mitra vividly portrays the condition of  the Indigo workers.


The peasants and tribals in north eastern India took up arms against  British  oppression.  The  Wahabis  who  had  played  an important  role  in the earlier anti-British  uprising  tried  to reorganise themselves after 1857, but were suppressed in 1863-64. Sher Ali, a Wahabi, killed Lord Mayo in the Andamans in 1872.


In  Punjab,  the  Namdhari or the Kuka  movement  under  the leadership  of Guru Ram Singh clashed with local chiefs  and  the British authorities. While many of the Kukas were massacred, Guru Ram Singh was exiled to Burma.


Vasudev  Balwant Phadke in Maharashtra led an  armed  revolt against  the  oppression of money-lenders and to  over-throw  the foreign rule, but he was routed in 1869 and imprisoned for life.


Tikendrajit in Manipur led an anti-British uprising in 1891, but was defeated and executed.


The Anti-British resistance of the Pathanas in North Western India, which had come under British control, continued throughout the 1890’s.


In Chotanagpur, Bihar ,Birsa Bhagwan oragnised the Mundas to fight  the  British police and army. Many of his  followers  were killed, and Birsa died in prison, perhaps due to poisoning.


All  most all these revolts were spontaneous  and  localised and  they  lacked political vision. However, side  by  side  with these  uprisings  ,  new  political  forces  emerged,  new  types associations  were  formed,  which gave  rise  to  a  nation-wide movement for national liberation.


What were the immediate changes introduced by the British following the suppression of the Great Revolt of 1857? Mention a few administrative changes.

What  were the immediate changes introduced by  the  British following the suppression of the Great Revolt of 1857? Mention  a few administrative changes.

     The  year 1858 marks a new phase in the history  of  British rule in India. Even before the suppression of the great uprising, British  Parliament  by an act ended the rule of the  East  India Company  on  2 August 1858 and transferred power to  the  British Crown. The authority of the British Government was now  exercised by  a British Minister, called the Secretary of State for  India. Improvements in communication made it possible for him to control from London every detail of administration in India. The colonial administration  in India was headed by the Governor General,  who also  became viceroy by the Queen’s proclamation on  1  November, 1858  with  the Executive Council and  the  Imperial  Legislative Council  performing advisory functions. The Princely States  were assured  of their continued existence and became loyal allies  of the   British.   They  were  completely  subordinated  and   were preserved  as a bulwark of the Empire. In a darbar held at  Delhi in  1877 Queen Victoria was proclaimed the Empress of India.  The zamindars and landlords, their position, secured, also  supported the  colonial  rule. Towards the educated and other  sections  of Indians, the British attitude was hostile and marked by a  racial arrogance. This became clear by the Vernacular Press Act and  the controversy over the Ilbert Bill. The strength of the army and of its  British component were increased to secure the British  rule in India and for colonial expansion. The vast army was maintained by  Indian  resources besides dividing the country  into  British India and princely States, the policy of divide-and rule fostered communal hatred by favouring the Hindus and Muslims by turns  and by  calling  the people of different regions `martial’  and  `non martial’  races.  The colonial exploitation of  the  country  was intensified  and the pattern of agriculture was changed  to  suit the  requirements  of the British industry. The  private  British investments in Railways, necessary to open the hinterland to  the ports,  and  in  plantations and industries,  brought  in  a  new element  of  exploitation. The growth of  Indian  Industries  was hampered  by  a deliberate policy. For the people  of  India  the British  rule  after 1857 was one of increasing  misery.  Between 1857 and 1900, about 30 million Indians perished in famines.


What factors were responsible for the initial successes of the rebels in 1857 and the ultimate success of the British. Explain why the revolt left a legacy of bitterness and hatred on both sides. What areas were unaffected by the Revolt?

 What factors were responsible for the initial  successes  of the  rebels  in  1857 and the ultimate success  of  the  British. Explain why the revolt left a legacy of bitterness and hatred  on both sides.  What areas were unaffected by the Revolt?

Faced with the prospect of the extinction of their power  in India, the British refers poured in immense resources in arms and men  to suppress the uprising and conquer afresh large  parts  of northern and central India. The rebels fought back heroically but could  not hold out for long due to certain weaknesses. They  had failed to evolve a unified command and even though rebel soldiers and  leaders moved from one place to another to  fight  ferocious battles, a common strategy to overthrow foreign rule was lacking. While  people from many parts of the country did not join in  the revolt,  most rulers of Indian states and big zaimdars,  many  of them creations of British rule, activelly supported the  British.  The British troops reoccupied Delhi in September 1857 and Bahadur Shah  II was captured, tried and exiled to Rangoon where he  died in  1862.  By the middle of 1858, most of the  major  centres  of revolt such as Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Jhansi and Gwalior  had been reoccupied by the British troops under John Nicholson,  John and  Henry Larence, Henry Havelock, Colin Campbell, James  Outram and  James  Neill. However, it took the British another  year  to compete  their reconquest of northern and central India. By  that time  most of the leaders of the uprising had either been  killed in  battle or had been captured and hanged and a few had to  take shelter  outside  India.  The suppression  of  the  uprising  was accompanied by brutal massacres, mass executions, devastation  of vast  areas, and arson and plunder. In Awadh alone about  150,000 people  of  whom  100,000  were civilians,  were  killed  by  the British.  The  uprising and its suppression marked the end  of  a phase  in the History of British rule in India. The  memories  of the great uprising continued to haunt the British rulers for long and to inspire the people of India in their struggle for freedom.


Describe the nature and causes of the Great Revolt of 1857. Identify the main centres of revolt

Describe the nature and causes of the Great Revolt of  1857. Identify the main centres of revolt?

     The  greatest and the most widespread armed  uprising  which shook  the  foundations of British rule in India  took  place  in 1857.  The  accumulating hatred against British  rule  which  had resulted in numerous, though localised, outbreaks burst forth  in a  mighty  rebellion in 1857. The dispossessed rulers  of  Indian states,  the  nobles and the zamindars who had been  deprived  of their lands, the Indian soldiers of Britain’s army in India,  and the  vast  masses of peasants artisans and otehrs  who  had  been ruined  by  British economic policies and had been rising  up  in revolt  in their isolated pockets, were now united by the  common aim  of  overthrowing British rule. The introduction  of  greased cartridges which showed the British rulers complete disregard  of the religious beliefs of the Indian people provided the immediate cause of the revolt. In March 1857, Mangal Pandey was executed in Barrackpore   for  rebelling  against  their  introduction.   The uprising began in Meerut on 10 May 1857 when the Indian  soldiers killed  their  British officers and marched to Delhi.  They  were joined by the soldiers stationed in Delhi and proclaimed the last Mughal  emperor  Bahadur  Shah II as the Emperor  of  India.  The rebellion  spread like wild fire and the British rule  ceased  to exist  over  a vast part of northern and central India  for  many months.  The  major centres of the revolt, besides  Delhi,  where some of the most fierce battles were fought were Kanpur, Lucknow, Braeilly, Bundelkhand and Arrah. Local revolts took place in many other  parts  of  the country. Among  the  prominent  leaders  of uprising  were  Nana Sahib, Tantia Tope,  Bakht  Khan,  Azimullah Khan, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Kunwar Singh,  Maulvi Ahgamadullah, Bahadur Khan and Rao Tulla Ram.


Critically examine the view that 1857 was not the first armed revolt against the British, Analyse the nature and causes of early revolts.

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.


Link between agrarian structure and agricultural growth in India, in a historical perspective

Q) Briefly explain the links between agrarian structure and agricultural growth in India, in a historical perspective. Why is it argued that agrarian reforms are critical to agricultural growth? What has been the record of implementation of agrarian reforms in India as a whole?

Ans: Colonialism was quite burdensome for Indian agriculture and affected it adversely, both in social and economic terms. From the self sufficient units villages in India were, until the advent of the British, it made Indian villages dependent on each other and on the state. Earlier villages raised crops, both food and non-food, that served their needs. But the British mandated, in certain areas, that only crops needed for British industries, like cash crops- opium, indigo and cotton- be grown and discouraged others. This changed the nature of agricultural produce from primary goods to manufactured goods, and though it served the selfish ends of the colonial government, it heavily bore down on Indian agriculture.

The British also introduced sweeping changes in the land revenue system, like the permanent settlement system, also called the zamindari system. Earlier zamindars in Bengal, Bihar & Orissa had been functionaries who merely held the right to collect revenue on behalf of the Mughal emperor and his representative. After the Permanent Settlement of Bengal in 1793, the question of incentivisation became central and the security of tenure of landlords was guaranteed; in short, the former landholders and revenue intermediaries were conferred proprietorial rights to the land they held. In addition, the land tax was fixed in perpetuity, so as to minimize the tendency by British administrators to amass a small fortune in sluiced-away revenue. Smallholders were no longer permitted to sell their land, though they could not be expropriated by their new landlords. By ensuring that zamindars’ lands were held in perpetuity and with a fixed tax burden they became a very desirable commodity, and in a way, the Permanent Settlement led to a commercialization of land and agriculture.

The monetization of the economy was in practice even before colonialism, but the British accelerated and accentuated the process and brought some fundamental changes in the wake, both in the production and consumption patterns.

Before the Britsh came to India, land was held jointly by communities or villages, and peasants enjoyed some sort of security of tenure with their land. But the British, with their two pronged strategy of extracting maximum possible revenue from agricultural land and produce, and also ensuring a steady supply of raw material for its industries back in England, found this system untenable to their goals and introduced the Zamindari, Mahalwari, and Ryotwari systems of land revenue.

The Zamindari system, mostly prevalent in erstwhile Bengal, Orissa and Bihar, made the collection of revenue the responsibility of a few big landlords, who came to be known as Zamindars. The Zamindars were to collect specific amounts of revenue, fixed through the Permanent Settlement system, and according to the size of the land holding, on behalf of the State and pass on such revenues to the State. This saved the British the trouble of administration, as all issues related to the collection of revenues were looked after by the Zamindars. This also led to the Zamindars becoming very powerful figures who enjoyed the patronage of the State and exacted whimsical amounts of revenue from the poor tillers (this practice of collecting abnormally high amounts of tax is called rack-renting). They also started subletting land to tenants, thereby introducing several levels of intermediaries. As a result, the tiller of the land had to pay almost 80%-90% of his produce as rent, and even then, had no security of lease over the land.

Under the Mahalwari system, land revenue was collected and paid by a circle of villages or a village as a whole.

The Ryotwari system, which was seen in large parts of Tamil Nadu, Punjab, etc, meant that the settlement was done separately for each plot of land, and every farmer had to pay individually and directly to the British. For instance, in the Vidarbha region, the average holding size was 60-70 acres, and owing to such large sizes, the British, after surveying the land, decided to sublet the land to landless tillers, again giving rise to intermediaries.

Now, the common features of all these three systems of land revenue were:

  1. Tenancy

  2. High rents

  3. Insecurity of tenure

However, a post independence review shows that Ryotwari regions have developed the most while Zamindari owned places have remained the most backward. This speaks volumes about the need and good of allowing the tiller to own the land, as only then, would he invest in and develop his land. On the other hand, the greater the number of intermediaries, the greater is the devolution of responsibility and the resulting devastation of the land. Non permanency of land tenure created a major disincentive to invest in agricultural implements, seeds, fertilizers, etc and this resulted in drastic reduction in productivity. Even soil fertility declined significantly.

The princely states too paid astronomical sums of money to the colonial government as tribute, and they transferred this burden to the peasants in the form of high taxes, but reforms were introduced in some places as early as the 19th century too. Even then, development pattern remained highly uneven across the country. With oppressive land revenue systems, came debt bondage, usury (lending money at very high interest rates), child labor, bonded labor, etc. Traditional occupations declined and artisans lost their livelihood, resulting in all of them turning to agriculture for jobs, and thus there was a huge increase in the number of landless agricultural laborers.

The scenario was worsened by the gaping lack of government investment in health and education. Even where government options were available, there were fiscal constraints. This led Nehru to comment, in 1933, that the agrarian system had collapsed and a new organization of society was inevitable. While the growth of foodgrain production had taken place at 0.1% annually during 1896-1936, the population had grown at a much faster rate, with the result that annual per capita availability of food grains had fallen from 200 kg in 1918 to 150 kg in 1946.


Keeping all this in view, the makers of the 1st Five Year Plan agreed that the future of land ownership and cultivation constituted the fundamental issue for India’s development. The social and economic reorganization of India would depend on the way land reform was handled. And towards this end, the mobilization of land tenants was required so as to remove the politics involved in the envisaged land reforms.

The Congress Agrarian Reforms Committee was constituted in 1948, headed by J.C. Kumarappa. It recommended the elimination of intermediaries between the State and the tiller, it sought to specify the size of land holdings for future acquisitions, it specified the need for cooperative and joint farming, it endorsed collective farming on reclaimed land. But in the whole process, it failed to provide a concrete framework for agrarian reform, in as much as its recommendations and policies were rooted in assumptions rather than being based on solid evidence.

Unfortunately however, the leaders of Independent India worked within the ideational and legislative framework defined by the colonial rulers. At best, there were only incremental changes effected. This led to the continuation of the shortsightedness displayed by the British in ignoring the link between agrarian development and agrarian reform.

Constitutionally, agriculture is a state subject, and the Centre only lays down broad principles and the framework, while the implementation details are left to the individual states. This gave rise to regional differences, political and otherwise, in the way land reform and agricultural reform were addressed by the states. In the states, the dominant political class were big land owners, and hence, there was considerable opposition to any changes suggested in the size of the land holdings. As a result, land reforms were never really implemented. Till 1992, less than 2% of the total land had been redistributed, and if we leave out Kerala, West Bengal and Karnataka, that figure dwindles to less than 1%. Only about 3.8% of the total operated land saw tenants being given permanent occupancy rights.

This has acted as a major deterrent for agricultural growth in the country, and is an equally big drag on advancements in human development.

The 1st Five Year Plan emphasized on increasing investment in irrigation projects and on developing community development programs. Action however was hard to come by and after the Plan, irrigation investment dropped from 25% to 10% of the total Plan outlay. From the 2nd Plan onwards, the P.C. Mahalanobis influence started getting more and more pronounced and there was a total shift in emphasis towards heavy industries with a view to ensuring rapid economic progress.

But with the first major drought in mid 1950s, it became clear that current agricultural growth investments would not be sustainable and there was need for more reforms. The Govt invited the Ford Foundation to problem and offer recommendations to lift the status quo. The Foundation’s report, “India’s Food Crisis and Steps to Meet it”, outlined the following recommendations:

  1. Identify crops and areas with potential to grow and concentrate efforts and investment in those crops and areas.

  2. Technological solutions like High Yielding Variety (HYV) seeds, hybrid seeds, that would give rise to crops that had a shorter sowing and harvesting duration, that were short stemmed and hence stronger, photo insensitive and fertilizer sensitive.

The Ford Foundation advanced these suggestions without any reference to changes in land holding size. This made the recommendations easier to implement, and the Government, in doing so, brought forth the “Green Revolution” in the mid 1960s. Intensive Agricultural District Program (IADP) and Intensive Agricultural Area Program (IAAP) became buzzwords in the country.

While this initiative was afoot, the country fell to two major droughts in1965-66 and 1966-67, which drove the introduction of new agricultural packages.

Till then, India received food aid from the US through a scheme called the PL-480. There was no food security and plus, the food aid was being used by the US as a strong political tool to further its free market policies. The US engaged in arm-twisting tactics by threatening to stop this aid from time to time.

The Green Revolution saved India from a ‘ship-to-mouth’ existence and helped it onward on the road to self sufficiency. Nonetheless, there are critics of the Revolution, who point to the mindless use of fertilizers resulting in soil leaching and increased pollution of the rivers, but the fact remains that food production rate had to overtake population growth at any cost. There are others who feel that the Green Revolution led to distortions in development of agrarian structures, and enormous increases in incomes of large land holding owners. Many also feel that the program was focused on food crops like rice and wheat, and other cereals and pulses were ignored. Even area-wise, the Revolution thrived in irrigated areas and some fertile areas got greater benefits. The Green Revolution was thus said to be ‘biased across crops, classes and regions’.

The govt then came up with other interventions in the form of price support, cheap credit and good marketing facilities. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the Agricultural Price Commission were formed in 1965.

Through (Minimum) Support Price, the govt assures farmers of a particular price for their produce, irrespective of market valuation. And Procurement Price, which is generally above Support Prices but lower than market prices, is the price at which the govt will procure, and the farmers will compulsorily have to sell their produce. The govt will then distribute this to areas of lower production. The Public Distribution System (PDS), also called Ration system in lay man language, involves a subsidy in procurement, transportation, storage and distribution.

The govt also subsidized the input side, by giving subsidies on fertilizers, power, diesel, petrol and irrigation to ensure that the farmers had all accompanying needs fulfilled to use high yielding variety of seeds.

The nationalization of 14 banks in 1969 also led to proliferation of rural and agricultural credit. By legislating that the nationalized banks had to lend 40% of all loans to the priority sector (agriculture, small scale industries, artisans, SC and STs, etc), the govt ensured that farmers got cheap and regular credit.

It was through all these steps that India was able to gain self sufficiency in food production, though not in distribution, by 1980s. In the early 1990s, the agriculture policy came in for severe criticism at the hands of World Bank, IMF and economists, who opined that the policy was flawed and needed restructuring. They criticized the unnecessary interventionist role played by the govt in the agriculture, due to which markets couldn’t function independently and freely. The farmer was deprived of better prices and at the same time, the govt exchequer was being heavily burdened by subsidies. They suggested that India could import rice and wheat and hence need not be self sufficient in food grain production, if it could export its fruits and vegetables.

In the nineties, the rate of growth of food grain production again fell below that of population growth and per capita consumption of food grains fell, the first time since colonial times. Alarmed by this, the govt promulgated the new agricultural policy in 1991. To ensure that farmers were not deprived of high prices, the govt followed a more export oriented policy. World prices were higher than Indian prices of food grains, but they were also very volatile and control lay in the hands of a few MNCs. Understandably therefore, when prices fell after the Kuwait war in the mid 90s, Indian prices remained higher and led to fears of inflation.

To attempt a correction, India signed the WTO Agreement of 1994, that regulated agricultural trade. Tariffs and quotas for imports were imposed to stress on free trade and liberalization. Subsidies were withdrawn and credit was made costlier with high interest rates. This made cultivation extremely costly and left farmers at money-lenders’ mercy. All these steps have led, over the years, to a worsening scenario of farmers’ conditions and farmer suicides are only a small manifestation of the overall agrarian crisis in the country today.

Several think tanks have advanced possible solutions to the crisis. Farmers should be incentivised to move out of food crops into high value crops like fruits, vegetables and cash crops and also to non crop food like meat, milk, etc. Support from food crops should be gradually withdrawn. But this doesn’t take into consideration the shifting consumption patterns in the country due to change in calorie consumption. Also the ratio of agricultural exports to total exports has come down over the years, proving that the WTO policies have indeed failed.

In conclusion, if drastic measures are not taken to improve the rate of growth of agriculture beyond the sub 1%-2% levels, and to diversify into other crops, India would become permanently import dependent by 2020.

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