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Section A — Chapter 1

The First War of Independence, 1857

Class 10 - Total History & Civics Solutions


Short Answer Questions

Question 1

What was the nature of revolts against the British before the First War of Independence?

Answer

The rebellions against the British before the First War of Independence were local, scattered and isolated. They did not pose a serious threat to the British.

Question 2

Why was the "War of 1857" hailed as the First War of Independence?

Answer

Revolt of 1857 was known as the first war of independence because it was for the first time that our entire nation irrespective of the caste, creed, race, and religion had come together and staged an armed protest against the Britishers to gain independence from their colonial rule.

Question 3

Mention two political causes of the First War of Independence.

Answer

Two political causes of the First War of Independence were —

  1. Policy of Expansion — The British policy of territorial expansion and gradual annexation of the native Indian states was one of the major grievances of the Indian rulers.
  2. Absentee Sovereignty of the British — Indians felt they were being ruled from England and India's wealth was drained to England and not utilised for their welfare.

Question 4

Name two ways in which the British expanded their territorial power in India.

Answer

Two ways in which the British expanded their territorial power in India were-

  1. Subsidiary alliance
  2. Doctrine of Lapse

Question 5

What was the Subsidiary Alliance? Name two Indian States brought under the British control using the Subsidiary Alliance.

Answer

Subsidiary alliance was an agreement between the British East India Company and the Indian Princely States by virtue of which these states lost their sovereignty to the British.

Two Indian States brought under the British control using the Subsidiary Alliance are Awadh and Hyderabad.

Question 6

Explain the term: Doctrine of Lapse. Name the two States annexed by the British using the Doctrine of Lapse.

Answer

According to Doctrine of Lapse, if an Indian ruler died without a male heir his kingdom would come under the Company's territory in India.

The two States annexed by the British using the Doctrine of Lapse are Jhansi and Nagpur.

Question 7

Who was Nana Sahib? What was his main grievance against the British?

Answer

Nana Saheb was the adopted son of Baji Rao II, the last Peshwa.

His main grievance against the British was that the British refused to grant Nana Saheb the pension they were paying to Baji Rao II. Nana Saheb was forced to live at Kanpur, far away from his family seat at Poona.

Question 8

Which policy was used by Lord Dalhousie against Rani Laxmi Bai? Why did Rani Laxmi Bai become a bitter enemy of the British?

Answer

The policy of Doctrine of Lapse was used by Lord Dalhousie against Rani Laxmi Bai.

Rani Laxmi Bai became a bitter enemy of the British because when the ruler of Jhansi died in 1853, leaving no natural heir, the widowed Rani was pensioned and their adopted son, Anand Rao, was not recognised as a lawful successor to the throne.

Question 9

State two announcements which adversely affected the Mughal dynasty in India.

Answer

Two announcements which adversely affected the Mughal dynasty in India are-

  1. In 1849, Lord Dalhousie announced that successors of Bahadur Shah Zafar would not be permitted to use the Red Fort as their palace. They were required to shift to a place near the Qutub Minar.
  2. In 1856, Lord Canning announced that after the death of Bahadur Shah, his successors would not be allowed to use the imperial titles with their names and would be known as mere princes.

Question 10

Mention any two consequences of the annexation of Awadh.

Answer

Two consequences of the annexation of Awadh are-

  1. People had to pay higher land revenue and additional taxes on food, houses and ferries.
  2. The dissolution of the Nawab of Awadh's army and administration threw thousands of nobles, officials and soldiers out of jobs.

Question 11

State any two consequences of the disbanding of the armies of the annexed States by the British.

Answer

Two consequences of the disbanding of the armies of the annexed States by the British are-

  1. The dissolution of the Nawab of Awadh's army and administration threw thousands of nobles, officials and soldiers out of jobs.
  2. It also affected the soldier's financial position. They had to pay higher taxes on the land their families held in Awadh.

Question 12

Give the meaning of Absentee Sovereignty. Why was it resented by the Indians?

Answer

Absentee Sovereignty of the British means that India was being ruled by the British government from England, at a distance of thousands of miles.

This was resented by the Indians because they felt that they were being ruled from England and India's wealth was being drained to England and not utilised for their welfare.

Question 13

What were the apprehensions of Indians about the introduction of the railways?

Answer

The apprehensions of Indians about the introduction of the railways were that in the railway compartments, the higher castes and the lower castes were made to sit side by side. They believed that the British had introduced such practices to defy their caste and religion.

Question 14

Mention any two social reforms advocated by the British which affected the religious traditions of the Indian people.

Answer

Two social reforms advocated by the British which affected the religious traditions of the Indian people are-

  1. Abolition of Sati in 1829
  2. Widow Remarriage Act of 1856

Question 15

Mention any two measures which point to the policy of social discrimination followed by the British in India.

Answer

Two measures which point to the policy of social discrimination followed by the British in India are-

  1. The Indian soldiers were poorly paid, ill-fed and badly housed.
  2. All higher positions in employment were reserved for the British, irrespective of their performance.

Question 16

Give two examples to show how the British exploited resources of India.

Answer

The British exploited resources of India in the following ways-

  1. India was forced to export, at cheaper rates, raw materials like raw cotton and raw silk that the British industries needed urgently.
  2. India also exported plantation products and food grains which were in short supply in Britain.

Question 17

Give any two grievances of the peasantry against the British.

Answer

Two grievances of the peasantry against the British are-

  1. Increase in the land revenue forced many peasants into indebtedness or into selling their lands.
  2. The traditional zamindars were replaced by merchants and moneylenders. These new land owners had no concern for the peasants. They pushed rents to exorbitant levels and evicted their tenants in case of non-payment.

Question 18

What did the British do to reduce the landed aristocracy to poverty?

Answer

According to the provisions of the Inam Commission(1852), 20,000 estates were confiscated when the landlords failed to produce evidence like title deeds by which they held the land. These confiscated lands were sold by public auction to the highest bidders. This drove the landed aristocracy to poverty.

Question 19

What was the provision of the General Service Enlistment Act which was resented by the Indian soldiers? Why was it resented?

Answer

According to the traditional belief, it was a taboo for a Brahmin to cross the seas. As per the General Service Enlistment Act of 1856, Indian soldiers could be sent overseas on duty. The Act did not take into account the sentiment of the Indian soldiers. The Brahmin soldiers saw in this a danger to their caste. This led to the feeling of resentment among them.

Question 20

Mention any two grievances harboured by the Indian soldiers which created an atmosphere favourable to the First War of Independence.

Answer

Two grievances harboured by the Indian soldiers which created an atmosphere favourable to the First War of Independence are-

  1. All higher positions in employment were reserved for the British, irrespective of their performance.
  2. The wages of the Indian soldiers were inadequate to support their families. On the other hand, the British soldiers received more than eight times the salary of the Indian soldiers.

Question 21

State two effects of the defeat of the British in the first Afghan War and the Punjab Wars on the Indian soldiers.

Answer

Two effects of the defeat of the British in the first Afghan War and the Punjab Wars on the Indian soldiers are-

  1. The defeat of the British broke the myth that the British were invincible.
  2. It revealed to the Indian soldiers that the British army could be defeated by the determined Indian army.

Question 22

What was the immediate cause of the First War of Independence?

Answer

The immediate cause of the First War of Independence was the introduction of the Enfield rifle. The loading process of the Enfield rifle involved bringing the cartridge to the mouth and biting off the top greased paper with the teeth.

In January 1857, there was a rumour in the Bengal regiments that the greased cartridge had the fat of cow or pig. The sepoys were now convinced that the introduction of greased cartridges was a deliberate move to defile Hindu and Muslim religions. So, the soldiers refused to use these cartridges and staged an uprising when they were forced to use them.

Question 23

Who was Mangal Pandey? What did he do?

Answer

Mangal Pandey was a Brahmin sepoy, who refused to use the Enfield rifles.

He led an attack on the Adjutant of the 34th Native Infantry at Barrackpore on March 29, 1857. He was executed after a court martial.

Question 24

State two consequences of the First War of Indian Independence on the East India Company.

Answer

Two consequences of the First War of Indian Independence on the East India Company are-

  1. End of the Company's rule in India
  2. The British rulers declared emphatically their policy of non-interference in the religious affairs, customs and traditions of the Indians.

Question 25

How was the Army organised after the First War of Independence?

Answer

The Indian army was reorganised after 1858, to prevent the reoccurrence of another uprising, in the following way-

  1. The strength of the European troops in India was increased.
  2. European troops were kept in key geographical and military positions.
  3. The sophisticated weapons and ammunitions were never placed under the charge of the Indians.
  4. Discrimination on the basis of caste and religion was practised in the recruitment of the army.
  5. Newspapers, journals and nationalist publications were prevented from reaching the soldiers.

Question 26

What impact did the uprising of 1857 have on the Mughal rule and Peshwaship?

Answer

The uprising of 1857 ended the Mughal and Peshwa rule in India. The Mughal dynasty came to an end with the death of Bahadur Shah II and Nana Saheb, the last Peshwa, fled to Nepal after the failure of the uprising.

Question 27

Mention any two drawbacks of the First War of Independence.

Answer

Two drawbacks of the First War of Independence are-

  1. The movement had no common goal before it except for the anti-foreign sentiments.
  2. Some of the rulers of the Indian states and the big zamindars refused to join the movement.

Structured Questions

Question 1

Economic exploitation of the country produced discontent, resentment and resistance among the people that culminated in the Great Uprising of 1857. In this context discuss:

(a) The ruin of trade and handicrafts

(b) Impoverishment of the cultivators

(c) Subordination of Indian economy to British interests (making India an agricultural colony of British capitalism)

Answer

(a) The British crippled the Indian trade and handicrafts in the following manner-

  1. Heavy duties on Indian silk and cotton textiles in Britain destroyed Indian industries.
  2. On the other hand, British goods were imported into India at a nominal duty.
  3. By the middle of 19th century, export of cotton and silk goods from India practically ceased.
  4. The art of spinning and weaving, which for ages had given employment to thousands of artisans, became extinct.
  5. The misery of the artisans was further compounded by the disappearance of their traditional patrons and buyers- the princes, chieftains and zamindars.

(b) The official land revenue policy was the main cause of the impoverishment of the cultivators.

  1. It was the peasantry that bore the heavy burden of taxes to provide money for the trade of the Company, for the cost of administration and the wars of British expansion in India.
  2. The land revenue was double the amount collected under the Mughals.
  3. Not even a part of this revenue was spent on the development of agriculture or on the welfare of the cultivator.
  4. Increase in the land revenue forced many peasants into indebtedness or into selling their lands.
  5. The traditional zamindars were replaced by merchants and money lenders, who had no concern for the peasants.
  6. They pushed rents to exorbitant levels and evicted their tenants in case of non-payment. Thus, British economic exploitation, decay of indigenous industries, high taxation, the drain of wealth, stagnation of agriculture and exploitation of the poor peasants reduced the Indians to extreme poverty.

(c) The British exploited the Indian resources for their own benefits in the following manner-

  1. They made agricultural India an economic colony to serve the interests of industrial England.
  2. India was forced to export, at cheaper rates, raw material, raw cotton and raw silk that the British industries needed urgently.
  3. India also exported plantation products and food grains which were in short supply in Britain.
  4. India was made to accept ready-made British goods either duty-free or at nominal duty rates, while Indian products were subjected to high import duties in England.
  5. This ruined the Indian industry, deprived the artisans of their income and reduced the avenues of employment for labour.
  6. Export of raw materials and food grains deprived India of her agricultural surplus and raised the prices of raw materials.

Question 2

The Great Outbreak of 1857 brought about important changes in the character of Indian administration and the future development of the country. In this context discuss:

(a) The changes introduced in the administrative set-up of the British territories in India.

(b) The changes in the Army.

(c) The changes in the relationship with Princely States.

Answer

(a) The most significant result of the uprising of 1857 was the end of the rule of the East India Company and assumption of the Government of India directly by the Crown. This was done by the Government of India Act of 1858 which had the following provisions-

  1. It transferred the power to govern India from the East India Company to the British Crown.
  2. The Company's Board of Control and Court of Directors were abolished. The power was to be exercised by the Secretary of State for India, aided by a Council. The Secretary of State was a member of the British Cabinet and was responsible to the Parliament. Thus, the ultimate power over India remained with the British Parliament.
  3. Actual governance was to be carried on, as before, by the Governor-General who was also given the title of Viceroy or Crown's personal representative.
  4. Appointments to the Civil Service were to be made by open competition under rules made by the Secretary of State.

(b) The Indian army was reorganised after 1858, to prevent the reoccurrence of another uprising, in the following way-

  1. The strength of the European troops in India was increased. The ratio of European to Indian troops was fixed at 1:2 (Bengal army) and 2:5 (Madras and Bombay armies). The general principle was that the number of Indian sepoys should not exceed twice that of the European troops.
  2. European troops were kept in key geographical and military positions.
  3. The sophisticated weapons and ammunition were never placed under the charge of the Indians. All Indian artillery units, with the exceptions of a few mountain units, were disbanded.
  4. Discrimination on the basis of caste and religion was practised in the recruitment of the army.
  5. Newspapers, journals and nationalist publications were prevented from reaching the soldiers.
  6. In order to discourage nationalism, measures such as introduction of caste and community in most regiments were taken.

(c) The changes in the relationship with Princely States are as follows:

  1. The Policy of Annexation and the Doctrine of Lapse were abandoned.
  2. Some of the Indian princes had remained loyal to the British and had helped them in suppressing the uprising.
  3. Their loyalty was rewarded with the announcement that their right to adopt heirs would be respected and the integrity of their territories guaranteed against future annexation.
  4. In 1876, Queen Victoria assumed the title of the "Empress of India". The Indian princes willingly became junior partners or agents of the British Crown because they were promised that they would continue as rulers of their States.

Question 3

Although the First War of Independence of 1857 failed, it had important consequences for India. In this context, answer the following questions:

(a) How did the uprising give rise to nationalism in India?

(b) How did the end of the East India Company's rule bring in grave economic perils in India?

(c) State how the British Government tried to pacify the feelings of Indians with regard to: (i) their religious practices (ii) the Princely States.

Answer

(a) The uprising of 1857 was the first struggle of the Indian people for freedom from British imperialism. It paved the way for the rise of the national movement. The sacrifices made by Rani Laxmi Bai, Nana Saheb and Mangal Pandey served as a source of inspiration for the future freedom fighters. The heroic struggle also established valuable traditions of resistance to the British rule.

(b) The uprising of 1857 ushered in the era of economic exploitation in the following manner-

  1. India was turned into a typical colonial economy, exporting raw material and importing finished goods.
  2. The salary and allowances of the Secretary of State and members of the India Council, the civil servants and military officers were a large drain on the country's resources.
  3. Peasants were impoverished under the British rule. The indigo peasants of Bihar revolted on a large scale in 1866-68.
  4. Rural artisan industries such as handicrafts, spinning and weaving collapsed.
  5. Indians had to pay heavy interests and dividends on the British capital invested in India. The British invested their surplus capital in India in railways, plantations, coalmines, jute mills, shipping etc.

(c) The British Government tried to pacify the feelings of Indians in the following ways:

(i) Religious Practices:

  1. The British rulers declared emphatically their policy of non-interference in the religious affairs, customs and traditions of the Indians.
  2. Queen Victoria's Proclamation promised to follow a policy of non-intervention in social and religious matters of Indians.
  3. The proclamation promised to treat all subjects- Indians and Europeans- as equals.

(ii) Princely States:

  1. The Policy of Annexation and the Doctrine of Lapse were abandoned.
  2. Some of the Indian princes had remained loyal to the British and had helped them in suppressing the uprising.
  3. Their loyalty was rewarded with the announcement that their right to adopt heirs would be respected and the integrity of their territories guaranteed against future annexation.
  4. In 1876, Queen Victoria assumed the title of the "Empress of India". The Indian princes willingly became junior partners or agents of the British Crown because they were promised that they would continue as rulers of their States.

Picture Study

Question 1

Study the picture and answer the following questions:

Who are the persons in the picture? How were they treated by their British counterparts? The First War of Independence 1857, Total History and Civics Solutions ICSE Class 10.

(a) Who are the persons in the picture? How were they treated by their British counterparts?

(b) State any three grievances they had against the British.

(c) What changes were brought in their status after the Uprising of 1857?

Answer

(a) The people in the picture are Indian Sepoys in the British army. The Indian Sepoys were ill-treated by their British counterparts even though they were equally efficient. They were poorly paid, ill-fed and badly housed. British military authorities forbade the sepoys from wearing caste and sectarian marks, beards or turbans and they showed disregard for the sentiments of the sepoys.

(b) Three grievances the Indian soldiers had against the British were —

  1. Bleak prospects of promotion — All higher positions in employment were reserved for the British, irrespective of their performance. Indian Sepoys could not rise above the rank of a Subedar.
  2. Lower Salaries — The wages of the Indian Sepoys were inadequate to support their families. On the other hand, the British soldiers received more than eight times the salary of the Indian soldiers.
  3. Deprivation of Allowances — The Indian Sepoys were required to serve in areas away from their homes without extra payment and additional Bhatta. The Post Office Act of 1854 withdrew the privilege of free postage enjoyed by the sepoys.

(c) The Indian army was reorganised after 1858, to prevent the reoccurrence of another uprising and the status of Indian Sepoys was affected in the following ways:

  1. The strength of the European troops in India was increased. The ratio of European to Indian troops was fixed at 1:2 (Bengal army) and 2:5 (Madras and Bombay armies). The general principle was that the number of Indian sepoys should not exceed twice that of the European troops.
  2. The sophisticated weapons and ammunition were never placed under the charge of the Indians. All Indian artillery units, with the exceptions of a few mountain units, were disbanded.
  3. Discrimination on the basis of caste and religion was practised in the recruitment of the army.
  4. Newspapers, journals and nationalist publications were prevented from reaching the soldiers.
  5. In order to discourage nationalism, measures such as introduction of caste and community in most regiments were taken.

Question 2

Study the picture and answer the following questions:

Study the picture and identify the person in the picture. Name the Proclamation made by her in 1858. The First War of Independence 1857, Total History and Civics Solutions ICSE Class 10.

(a) Identify the person in the picture. Name the Proclamation made by her in 1858.

(b) Where and by whom was this proclamation made public?

(c) What assurance did this proclamation give to the Indian people regarding (i) religious freedom and (ii) appointment to public offices?

Answer

(a) This picture shows Queen Victoria.

The proclamation was called Queen Victoria's Proclamation.

(b) Queen Victoria's Proclamation was made public at Allahabad, on November 1, 1858, by Lord Canning, the first Viceroy of India.

(c) Below assurances were given to the Indian people by this Proclamation:

(i) Queen Victoria's Proclamation promised to follow the policy of non-intervention in social and religious matters of Indians and to treat all subjects - Indians and Europeans - as equal.

(ii) Queen Victoria's Proclamation included a provision in which appointments to the civil service were to be made by open competition under rules made by the Secretary of State. Education and ability would be the basis of all appointments.

Thinking Skills

Question 1

Suppose you were present when the rulers of Indian states met at a common place before the Uprising of 1857. Each ruler voiced his grievance against the British. Make a list of the grievances of each of the rulers.

Answer

The grievances of each of the rulers are listed below:

  1. The Nawab of Awadh was enraged due to the humiliating manner in which he was deposed and Awadh annexed on the pretext of alleged misrule even though he was the first to enter into subsidiary alliance paying the British to defend the kingdom of Awadh.
  2. Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and his wife Zeenat Mahal were furious with the British over the announcement that his successors cannot use the Red Fort as their palace and cannot use the imperial titles with their names.
  3. The rulers of Jhansi, Satara, Jaitpur, Sambalpur, Udaipur and Nagpur were discontent because their kingdoms were annexed by the British using Doctrine of Lapse.
  4. Nana Saheb the adopted son of Baji Rao II was refused the pension that the British were paying to Baji Rao II. He was forced to live at Kanpur, far away from his family seat at Poona.
  5. Nawabs of Carnatic and Tanjore were unhappy as their regal titles were taken away.
  6. The Nizam of Hyderabad, the ruler of Mysore, the Raja of Tanjore, the Sindhia and the Rajput states of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Macheri, Bundi and ruler of Bharatpur have entered into Subsidiary alliance with the British. They were now suspicious of the British and discontent on losing their independence.

Question 2

Imagine you were one of the soldiers from Meerut who came to Delhi soon after the freeing your fellow soldiers, who were put behind the bars for refusing to touch the cartridges. State two objections which they had for not using the cartridges and their future plan of action.

Answer

Two objections my fellow soldiers had over the use of the cartridges were:

  1. They were convinced that the greased cartridges had fat of cow and pig. Cow is sacred to hindus and pig is a taboo to Muslims both hindu and muslim soldiers refused to use them.
  2. They feared the loss of caste and religion if they accepted the greased cartridges.

Their future plan of action was to stage an uprising against the British if they were forced to use the cartridges.

Question 3

Imagine you were one of the Company's sepoys from Awadh, whose father was a zamindar. State the grievances your father had against the British.

Answer

After annexation of Awadh, the British confiscated the estate of the zamindars. As a company sepoy, I helped the British conquer the rest of India and now in my homeland my father's estate was taken away. The estate was auctioned to the highest bidder who was a merchant and didn't understand the needs of the tenants and exploited the peasantry to pay exorbitant land revenues.

Question 4

Read the poem about Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi, written by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan. How does the poem describe her as an unusual woman who was way ahead of her time?

Answer

In the poem "Jhansi ki Rani" by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, the poetess describes Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi as a courageous, brave girl who since childhood unlike the girls of her age started playing with swords, shields and weapons. When Dalhousie annexed Jhansi by Doctrine of Lapse, she decided to fight against the British and contribute to the freedom struggle of India helping the Peshwa Nana Saheb to oust the British from India. She showed exemplary valour and excellent combat skills on the battle field better than any male warrior of her time.

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