Mahatma Gandhi announced his plan to begin Non-Cooperation with the government as a sequel to the Rowlatt Act, Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Khilafat Movement. It was approved by the Indian National Congress at the Nagpur session in December, 1920.
The movement began with Mahatma Gandhi renouncing the titles, which were given by the British. Other leaders and influential persons also followed him by surrendering their honorary posts and titles. Students came out of the government educational institutions.
National schools such as the Kashi Vidyapeeth, the Bihar Vidyapeeth and the Jamia Millia Islamia were set up. All the prominent leaders of the country gave up their lucrative legal practice. Legislatures were boycotted. No leader of the Congress came forward to contest the elections for the Legislatures.
In 1921, mass demonstrations were held against the Prince of Wales during his tour of India. The government resorted to strong measures of repression. Many leaders were arrested. The Congress and the Khilafat Committees were proclaimed as illegal. At several places, bonfires of foreign clothes were organised.
The message of Swadeshi spread everywhere. Most of the households took to weaving cloths with the help of charkhas. But the whole movement was abruptly called off on 11th February 1922 by Gandhi following the Churi Chaura incident in the Gorakpur district of U.P.
Earlier on 5th February an angry mob set fire to the police station at Churi Chaura and twenty two police men were burnt to death. Many top leaders of the country were stunned at this sudden suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement. Mahatma Gandhi was arrested on 10 March 1922.
1. It was the real mass movement with the participation of different sections of Indian society such as peasants, workers, students, teachers and women.
2. It witnessed the spread of nationalism to the remote corners of India.
3. It also marked the height of Hindu-Muslim unity as a result of the merger of Khilafat movement.
4. It demonstrated the willingness and ability of the masses to endure hardships and make sacrifices.
The period from 1905 was known as the era of extremism in the Indian National Movement. The extremists or the aggressive nationalists believed that success could be achieved through bold means. The important extremist leaders were Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh.
Their main objective was to attain Swaraj or complete independence and not just self-government.
The Extremists had no faith in the British sense of justice and fair play. They pointed out the forceful means by which the British had taken control of India. They believed that political rights will have to be fought for. They had the spirit of self-reliance and self determination.
The methods used by the extremists were:
Swaraj is my birth-right and I will have it.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak is regarded as the real founder of the popular anti-British movement in India. He was known as ‘Lokamanya’. He attacked the British through his weeklies The Mahratta and the Kesari. He was jailed twice by the British for his nationalist activities and in 1908 deported to Mandalay for six years. He set up the Home Rule League in 1916 at Poona and declared "Swaraj is my birth-right and I will have it".
Lala Lajpat Rai is popularly known as the ‘Lion of Punjab’. He played an important role in the Swadeshi Movement. He founded the Indian Home Rule League in the US in 1916. He was deported to Mandalay on the ground of sedition. He received fatal injuries while leading a procession against the Simon Commission and died on November 17, 1928.
Bipan Chandra Pal began his career as a moderate and turned an extremist. He played an important role in the Swadeshi Movement. He preached nationalism through the nook and corner of Indian by his powerful speeches and writings.
Aurobinda Ghosh was another extremist leader and he actively participated in the Swadeshi Movement. He was also imprisoned. After his release he settled in the French territory of Pondicherry and concentrated on spiritual activities.
The partition of Bengal in 1905 provided a spark for the rise of extremism in the Indian National Movement.
On the same day when the partition came into effect, 16 October 1905, the people of Bengal organised protest meetings and observed a day of mourning. The whole political life of Bengal underwent a change.
Gandhi wrote that the real awakening in India took place only after the Partition of Bengal. The anti-partition movement culminated into the Swadeshi Movement and spread to other parts of India. The aggressive nationalists forced Dadabhai Naoroji to speak of Swaraj (which was not a Moderate demand) in the Calcutta Session of Congress in 1906.
They adopted the resolutions of Boycott and Swadeshi. The Moderate Congressmen were unhappy. They wanted Swaraj to be achieved through constitutional methods. The differences led to a split in the Congress at the Surat session in 1907. This is popularly known as the famous Surat Split.
The extremists came out of the Congress led by Tilak and others.
The Swadeshi Movement involved programmes like the boycott of government service, courts, schools and colleges and of foreign goods, promotion of Swadeshi goods, Promotion of National Education through the establishment of national schools and colleges. It was both a political and economic movement.
The Swadeshi Movement was a great success. In Bengal, even the landlords joined the movement. The women and students took to picketing. Students refused using books made of foreign paper. The government adopted several tough measures. It passed several Acts to crush the movement.
The Swadeshi volunteers were beaten badly. The cry of Vande Mataram was forbidden. Schools and colleges were warned not to allow their students to take part in the movement or else their, aid would be stopped. Some Indian government employees lost their jobs. Extremist leaders B
ala Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh were imprisoned and deported.
The achievements of extremists can be summed up as follows:
In December 1906, Muslim delegates from all over India met at Dacca for the Muslim Educational Conference. Taking advantage of this occasion, Nawab Salimullah of Dacca proposed the setting up of an organisation to look after the Muslim interests. The proposal was accepted.
The All-India Muslim League was finally set up on December 30, 1906. Like the Indian National Congress, they conducted annual sessions and put their demands to the British government. Initially, they enjoyed the support of the British. Their first achievement was the separate electorates for the Muslims in the Minto-Morley reforms.
During the 1916 Congress session at Lucknow two major events occurred. The divided Congress became united. An understanding for joint action against the British was reached between the Congress and the Muslim League and it was called the Lucknow Pact. The signing of the Lucknow Pact by the Congress and the Muslim League in 1916 marked an important step in the Hindu-Muslim unity.
Two Home Rule Leagues were established, one by B.G. Tilak at Poona in April 1916 and the other by Mrs. Annie Besant at Madras in September 1916. The aim of the Movement was to get selfgovernment for India within the British Empire. It believed freedom was the natural right of all nations.
Moreover, the leaders of the Home Movement thought that India’s resources were not being used for her needs. The two Leagues cooperated with each other as well with the Congress and the Muslim League in putting their demand for home rule. While Tilak’s Movement concentrated on Maharashtra, Annie Besant’s Movement covered the rest of the country.
The Home Rule Movement had brought a new life in the national movement. There was a revival of Swadeshi. Women joined in larger numbers. On 20 August 1917, Montague, the Secretary of State in England, made a declaration in the Parliament of England on British Government’s policy towards future political reforms in India. He promised the gradual development of self-governing institutions in India. This August Declaration led to the end of the Home Rule Movement.
In the first half of the 20th century, revolutionary groups sprang up mainly in Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab and Madras. The revolutionaries were not satisfied with the methods of both the moderates and extremists. Hence, they started many revolutionary secret organizations.
In Bengal Anusilan Samiti and Jugantar were established. In Maharashtra Savarkar brothers had set up Abhinava Bharat. In the Madras Presidency, Bharathmatha Association was started by Nilakanta Bramachari. In Punjab Ajit Singh set up a secret society to spread revolutionary ideas among the youth.
In London, at India House, Shyamji Krishna Verma gathered young Indian nationalists like Madan Lal Dhingra, Savarkar, V.V.S. Iyer and T.S.S.Rajan. Lala Hardyal set up the ‘Ghadar Party’ in USA to organise revolutionary activities from outside India.
For the first time, most of the regions in India were united politically and administratively under a single power (the British rule). It introduced a uniform system of law and government.
The introduction of railways, telegraphs and postal services and the construction of roads and canals facilitated communication among the people. All these brought Indians nearer to each other and provided the facility to organise the national movement on an all India basis.
The English language played an important role in the growth of nationalism in the country. The English educated Indians, who led the national movement, developed Indian nationalism and organised it. Western education facilitated the spread of the concepts of liberty, equality, freedom and nationalism and sowed the seeds of nationalism.
The Indian Press, both English and vernacular, had also aroused the national consciousness.
The leaders of various organisations like the Brahmo Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, Arya Samaj, and Theosophical Society generated a feeling of regard for and pride in the motherland.
A good deal of anti-British feeling was created by the economic policy pursued by the British government in India. The English systematically ruined the Indian trade and native industries. Therefore, economic exploitation by the British was one of the most important causes for the rise of Indian nationalism.
The Revolt of 1857 created a kind of permanent bitterness and suspicion between the British and the Indians. The English feeling of racial superiority grew. India as a nation and Indians as individuals were subjected to insults, humiliation and contemptuous treatment.
Lord Lytton arranged the Delhi Durbar at a time when the larger part of India was in the grip of famine. He passed the Vernacular Press Act which curbed the liberty of the Indian Press. His Arms Act was a means to prevent the Indians from keeping arms. All these measures created widespread discontent among the Indians.
The Ilbert Bill was presented in the Central Legislature during the Viceroyalty of Lord Ripon. The Bill tried to remove racial inequality between Indian and European judges in courts. This Bill was opposed by the British residents in India. Ultimately the Bill was modified. Thus various factors contributed to the rise of nationalism and the formation of the Indian National Congress.
Allan Octavian Hume, a retired civil servant in the British Government took the initiative to form an all-India organization. Thus, the Indian National Congress was founded and its first session was held at Bombay in 1885. W.C. Banerjee was its first president. It was attended by 72 delegates from all over India.
Persons attending the session belonged to different religious faiths. They discussed the problems of all the Indians irrespective of their religion, caste, language and regions. Thus Indian National Congress from the start was an all-India secular movement embracing every section of Indian society.
The second session was held in Calcutta in 1886 and the third in Madras in 1887. The history of the Indian National Movement can be studied in three important phases:
(i) The phase of moderate nationalism (1885-1905) when the Congress continued to be loyal to the British crown.
(iii) The period from 1917 to1947 is known as the Gandhian era.
The leading figures during the first phase of the National Movement were A.O. Hume, W.C. Banerjee, Surendra Nath Banerjee, Dadabhai Naoroji, Feroze Shah Mehta, Gopalakrishna Gokhale, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Badruddin Tyabji, Justice Ranade and G.Subramanya Aiyar. Surendranath Banerjee was called the Indian Burke.
He firmly opposed the Partition of Bengal. He founded the Indian Association (1876) to agitate for political reforms. He had convened the Indian National Conference (1883) which merged with the Indian National Congress in l886.
G. Subramanya Aiyar preached nationalism through the Madras Mahajana Sabha. He also founded the The Hindu and Swadesamitran. Dadabhai Naoroji was known as the Grand Old Man of India. He is regarded as India’s unofficial Ambassador in England. He was the first Indian to become a Member of the British House of Commons.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale was regarded as the political guru of Gandhi. In 1905, he founded the Servants of India Society to train Indians to dedicate their lives to the cause of the country
For a few years the Congress enjoyed the patronage of the British administrators. Between 1885 and 1905, the Congress leaders were moderates. The Moderates had faith in the British justice and goodwill. They were called moderates because they adopted peaceful and constitutional means to achieve their demands.
The Moderates had total faith in the British sense of justice and fair play. They were loyal to the British. They looked to England for inspiration and guidance. The Moderates used petitions, resolutions, meetings, leaflets and pamphlets, memorandum and delegations to present their demands.
They confined their political activities to the educated classes only. Their aim was to attain political rights and self-government stage by stage. In the beginning, the British Government welcomed the birth of the Indian National Congress.
In 1886, Governor General Lord Dufferin gave a tea garden party for the Congress members in Calcutta. The government officials had also attended Congress sessions. With the increase in Congress demands, the government became unfriendly. It encouraged the Muslims to stay away from the Congress.
The only demand of the Congress granted by the British was the expansion of the legislative councils by the Indian Councils Act of 1892.
1. The Moderates were able to create a wide national awakening among the people.
2. They popularized the ideas of democracy, civil liberties and representative institutions.
3. They explained how the British were exploiting Indians. Particularly, Dadabhai Naoroji in hi
s famous book Poverty and UnBritish Rule in India wrote his Drain Theory. He showed how India’s wealth was going away to England in the form of
(d) payments to British troops in India and (e) profits of the British companies.
In fact, the British Government was forced to appoint the Welby Commission, with Dadabhai as the first Indian as its member, to enquire into the matter.
4. Some Moderates like Ranade and Gokhale favoured social reforms. They protested against child marriage and widowhood.
5. The Moderates had succeeded in getting the expansion of the legislative councils by the Indian Councils Act of 1892.
In the history of modern India, the socio-religious reforms occupy a significant place. Social reformars like Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Dayanand Sarawathi and Swami Vivekananda were responsible for the social and cultural awakening in India.
The spread of liberal ideas of the west provided further stimulus for the emergence of reform movements. These movements introduced important changes in social and religious life of the people of India.
Raja Rammohan Roy established the Brahmo Samaj at Calcutta in 1828 in order to purify Hinduism and to preach monotheism. He is considered as the first ‘modern man of India’. He was a pioneer of socio-religious reform movements in modern India.
Born in 1772 in the Hooghly district of Bengal, he inculcated a brilliant freedom of thought and rationality. He studied the Bible as well as Hindu and Muslim religious texts. He had excellent command over many languages including English, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, French, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
In 1815, he established the Atmiya Sabha. Later, it was developed into the Brahmo Sabha in August 1828. Through this organisation, he preached that there is only one God. He combined the teachings of the Upanishads, the Bible and the Koran in developing unity among the people of different religions.
The work of the Atmiya Sabha was carried on by Maharishi Debendranath Tagore (father of Rabindranath Tagore), who renamed it as Brahmo Samaj. He turned the Brahmo Samaj into a leading social organisation of India. Raj Rammohan Roy is most remembered for helping Lord William Bentinck to declare the practice of Sati a punishable offence in 1829. He also protested against the child marriage and female infanticide.
He favored the remarriage of widows, female education and women’s right to property. He felt that the caste system was the greatest hurdle to Indian unity. He believed in the equality of mankind. He did not believe in the supremacy of the Brahmin priests. He favoured inter-caste marriages.
He himself adopted a Muslim boy. In 1817, he founded the Hindu College (now Presidency College, Calcutta) along with David Hare, a missionary. He also set up schools for girls.
Rammohan Roy started the first Bengali weekly Samvad Kaumudi and edited a Persian weekly Mirat-ul-akhbar. He stood for the freedom of the press. Rammohan died in Bristol in England in 1833.
Henry Vivian Derozio was the founder of the Young Bengal Movement. He was born in Calcutta in 1809 and taught in the Hindu College, Calcutta. He died of cholera in 1833. His followers were known as the Derozians and their movement the Young Bengal Movement.
They attacked old traditions and decadent customs. They also advocated women’s rights and their education. They founded associations and organized debates against idol worship, casteism and superstitions.
The Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswathi at Bombay in 1875. Born in Kathiawar in Gujarat, Swami Dayanand (1824-83) was a scholar, a patriot, a social reformer and a revivalist. He believed the Vedas were the source of true knowledge. His motto was “Back to the Vedas”.
He was against idol worship, child marriage and caste system based on birth. He encouraged intercaste marriages and widow remarriage. He started the Suddhi movement to bring back those Hindus who had converted to other religions to its fold.
He wrote the book Satyartha Prakash which contains his ideas. The Arya Samaj, though founded in Bombay, became very powerful in Punjab and spread its influence to other parts of India. It has contributed very much to the spread of education.
The first Dayanand Anglo-Vedic (DAV) School was founded in 1886 at Lahore. Many more schools came up in other parts of India in later years. The Arya Samaj had also spread nationalism. Hundreds of Arya Samaj patriots, including Lala Lajpat Rai, took part in the Indian freedom struggle.
The Prarthana Samaj was founded in 1867 in Bombay by Dr. Atmaram Pandurang. It was an off-shoot of Brahmo Samaj. It was a reform movement within Hinduism and concentrated on social reforms like inter-dining, inter-marriage, widow remarriage and uplift of women and depressed classes.
Justice M.G. Ranade and R.G. Bhandarkar joined it in 1870 and infused new strength to it. Justice Ranade promoted the Deccan Education Society.
The original name of Swami Vivekananda was Narendranath Dutta (1863-1902) and he became the most famous disciple of Shri Ramkrishna Paramahamsa. He was born in a prosperous Bengali family of Calcutta and educated in Scottish Church College.
In 1886 Narendranath took the vow of Sanyasa and was given the name, Vivekananda. He preached Vedantic Philosophy. He condemned the caste system and the current Hindu emphasis on rituals and ceremonies. Swami Vivekananda participated at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago (USA) in September 1893 and raised the prestige of India and Hinduism very high.
Vivekananda preached the message of strength and selfreliance. He asked the people to improve the lives of the poor and depressed classes. He believed that service to mankind is service to God. He founded the Ramkrishna Mission at Belur in Howrah in 1897.
It is a social service and charitable society. The objectives of this Mission are providing humanitarian re
lief and social work through the establishment of schools, colleges, hospitals and orphanages.
The Theosophical Society was founded in New York (USA) in 1875 by Madam H.P. Blavatsky, a Russian lady, and Henry Steel Olcott, an American colonel.
Their main objectives were to form a universal brotherhood of man without any distinction of race, colour or creed and to promote the study of ancient religions and philosophies. They arrived in India and established their headquarters at Adyar in Madras in 1882.
Later in 1893, Mrs. Annie Besant arrived in India and took over the leadership of the Society after the death of Olcott. Mrs. Annie Besant founded the Central Hindu School along with Madan Mohan Malaviya at Benaras which later developed into the Banaras Hindu University.
Pandit Ishwar Chandra was a great educator, humanist and social reformer. He was born in 1820 in a village in Midnapur, Bengal. He rose to be the Head Pandit of the Bengali Department of Fort William College.
He firmly believed that reform in Indian society could only come about through education. Vidyasagar founded many schools for girls. He helped J.D. Bethune to establish the Bethune School.
He founded the Metropolitan Institution in Calcutta. He protested against child marriage and favoured widow remarriage which was legalised by the Widow Remarriage Act (1856). It was due to his great support for the spread of education that he was given the title of Vidyasagar.
Jyotiba Phule belonged to a low caste family in Maharashtra. He waged a life-long struggle against upper caste domination and Brahmanical supremacy. In 1873 he founded the Satyashodak Samaj to fight against the caste system.
He pioneered the widow remarriage movement in Maharashtra and worked for the education for women. Jyotiba Phule and his wife established the first girls’ school at Poona in 1851.
The Muslim reform movements started a little later because they had avoided western education in the beginning. The first effort was in 1863 when the Muhammad Literary Society was set up in Calcutta. Its aim was to popularise the study of English and western sciences. It established a number of schools in Bengal.
The Aligarh Movement was started by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-98) for the social and educational advancement of the Muslims in India. He fought against the medieval backwardness and advocated a rational approach towards religion.
In 1866, he started the Mohammadan Educational Conference as a general forum for spreading liberal ideas among the Muslims. In 1875, he founded a modern school at Aligarh to promote English education among the Muslims. This had later grown into the Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College and then into the Aligarh Muslim University.
The orthodox section among the Muslim ulema organised the Deoband Moovement. It was a revivalist movement whose twin objectives were
(i) to propagate among the Muslims the pure teachings of the Koran and the Hadis and
(ii) to keep alive the spirit of jihad against the foreign rulers.
The new Deoband leader Mahmud-ul-Hasan (1851-1920) sought to impart a political and intellectual content to the religious ideas of the school. The liberal interpretation of Islam created a political awakening among its followers.
Punjab also came under the spell of reforms. Baba Dayal Das founded the Nirankari Movement. He insisted the worship of God as nirankar (formless). The Namdhari Movement was founded by Baba Ram Singh. His followers wore white clothes and gave up meat eating.
The Singh Sabhas started in Lahore and Amritsar in 1870 were aimed at reforming the Sikh society. They helped to set up the Khalsa College at Amritsar in 1892.They also encouraged Gurmukhi and Punjabi literature. In 1920, the Akalis started a movement to remove the corrupt Mahants (priests) from the Sikh gurudwaras.
The British government was forced to make laws on this matter. Later, the Akalis organised themselves into a political party.
The Parsi Religious Reform Association was founded at Bombay by Furdunji Naoroji and S.S. Bengalee in 1851. They advocated the spread of women’s education. They also wanted to reform their marriage customs. Naoroji published a monthly journal, Jagat Mithra.
The momentum gathered through these reform movements and went a long way in uplifting the entire community. By the middle of the twentieth century most of them were highly placed in various capacities and have made a significant contribution to India’s development.
Saint Ramalinga was one of the foremost saints of Tamil Nadu in the nineteenth century. He was born on October 5, 1823 at Marudhur, near Chidambaram. He was the last son of his father, Ramayya Pillai and mother, Chinnammayar. Developing a deep interest in spiritual life, Ramalinga moved to Karunguli in 1858, a place near Vadalur where the Saint later settled down.
His divine powers came to be recognised at the early age of eleven. In 1865 he founded the Samarasa Suddha Sanmargha Sangha for the promotion of his ideals of establishing a casteless society. He preached love and compassion to the people.
He composed Tiru Arutpa. His other literay works include Manu Murai Kanda Vasagam and Jeeva Karunyam. His language was so simple as to enable the illiterate people to understand his teachings. In 1870 he moved to Mettukuppam, a place three miles away from Vadalur.
There he started constructing the Satya Gnana Sabai in 1872. He introduced the principle that God could be worshipped in the form of Light.
Sri Vaikunda Swamigal was born in 1809 at Swamithoppu in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. His original name was Mudichoodum Perumal but he was called Muthukkutty.
He preached against the caste system and untouchability. He also condemned religious ceremonies. Many came to his place to worship him and slowly his teachings came to be known as Ayyavazhi. By the midnineteenth century, Ayyavazhi came to be recognized as a separate religion and spread in the regions of South Travancore and South Tirunelveli.
After his death, the religion was spread on the basis of his teachings and the religious books Akilattirattu Ammanai and Arul Nool. Hundreds of Nizhal Thangals (places of worship) were b
uilt across the country.
Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy was a great social reformer. In 1921, during the anti-liquor campaign he cut down 1000 coconut trees in his own farm. In 1924, he took an active part in the Vaikam Satyagraha. The objective of the Satyagraha was to secure for untouchables the right to use a road near a temple at Vaikom in Kerala.
E.V.R. opposed the Varnashrama policy followed in the V.V.S. Iyer’s Seranmadevi Gurugulam. During 1920- 1925 being in the Congrees Party he stressed that Congress should accept communal representation.
Subsequently in 1925, he started the “Self-Respect Movement”. The aims of the ‘Self -Respect Movement’ were to uplift the Dravidians and to expose the Brahminical tyrany and deceptive methods by which they controlled all spheres of Hindu life. He denounced the caste system, child marriage and enforced widowhood.
He encouraged inter-caste marriages. He himself conducted many marriages without any rituals. Such a marriage was known as “Self- Respect Marriage.” He gave secular names to new born babies. He attacked the laws of Manu, which he called the basis of the entire Hindu social fabric of caste.
He founded the Tamil journals Kudiarasu, Puratchi and Viduthalai to propagate his ideals. In 1938 at Tamil Nadu Women’s Conference appreciating the noble service rendered by E.V.R. he was given the title “Periyar”. On 27th June 1970 by the UNESCO organisation praised and adorned with the title “Socrates of South Asia”.
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. (more…)
Lord Ripon was a staunch Liberal democrat with faith in self government. He was appointed as the Viceroy of India by Gladstone, the Liberal Party Prime Minister of England. Ripon was instructed to reverse the Afghan policy of Lytton. Therefore, as soon as he came to India, peace was made with Afghanistan without affecting the British prestige.
The proposal of appointing a Resident in Kabul was dropped. He was also responsible for the rendition of Mysore to its Hindu ruler. Moreover, he repealed the Vernacular Press Act and earned much popularity among Indians. Then, he devoted himself to task of liberalising the Indian administration.
Ripon believed that self-government is the highest and noblest principles of politics. Therefore, Ripon helped the growth of local bodies like the Municipal Committees in towns and the local boards in taluks and villages. The powers of municipalities were increased.
Their chairmen were to be non-officials. They were entrusted the care of local amenities, sanitation, drainage and water-supply and also primary education. District and taluk boards were created. It was insisted that the majority of the members of these boards should be elected non-officials.
The local bodies were given executive powers with financial resources of their own. It was perhaps the desire of Ripon that power in India should be gradually transferred to the educated Indians. He also insisted on the election of local bodies as against selection by the government.
In all these measures, Ripon’s concern was not so much for efficiency in administration. Instead, Ripon diffused the administration and brought the government closer to the people. This was his most important achievement. It was Ripon who laid the foundations of the system which functions today.
Like Lord William Bentinck, Lord Ripon was a champion of education of the Indians. Ripon wanted to review the working of the educational system on the basis of the recommendations of the Wood’s Despatch. For further improvement of the system Ripon appointed a Commission in 1882 under the chairmanship of Sir William Hunter.
The Commission came to be known as the Hunter Commission. The Commission recommended for the expansion and improvement of the elementary education of the masses. The Commission suggested two channels for the secondary education-one was literary education leading up to the Entrance Examination of the university and the other preparing the students for a vocational career.
The Commission noted the poor status of women education. It encouraged the local bodies in the villages and towns to manage the elementary education. This had resulted in the extraordinary rise in the number of educational institutions in India.
Lord Ripon introduced the Factory Act of 1881 to improve the service condition of the factory workers in India. The Act banned the appointment of children below the age of seven in factories. It reduced the working hours for children. It made compulsory for all dangerous machines in the factories to be properly fenced to ensure security to the workers.
Lord Ripon wanted to remove two kinds of law that had been prevalent in India. According to the system of law, a European could be tried only by a European Judge or a European Magistrate. The disqualification was unjust and it was sought to cast a needless discredit and dishonour upon the Indian-born members of the judiciary.
C.P. Ilbert, Law Member, introduced a bill in 1883 to abolish thisdiscrimination in judiciary. But Europeans opposed this Bill strongly. They even raised a fund of one lakh fifty thousand rupees and established an organisation called the Defence Association.
They also suggested that it was better to end the English rule in India than to allow the English to be subjected to the Indian Judges and Magistrates. The press in England joined the issue. Hence, Ripon amended the bill to satisfy the English in India and England. The Ilbert Bill controversy helped the cause of Indian nationalism.
The Ilbert Bill Controversy is a high watermark in the history of Indian National Movement. Ripon was totally disillusioned and heartbroken and he tendered his resignation and left for England. The immediate result of this awakening of India was the birth of the Indian National Congress in 1885, the very next year of Ripon’s departure.
Lord Ripon was the most popular Viceroy that England ever sent to India. The Indians by and large hailed him as “Ripon the Good”, because he was the only Viceroy who handled the Indian problems with compassion and sympathy.
His attempt to remove racial distinction in the judiciary, the repeal of the Vernacular Press Act, the rendition of Mysore and the introduction of the Local-Self Government increased his popularity among Indians. His resignation was deeply regretted by Indians who cherished his memory with gratitude.
After the 1857 Revolt, the responsibility of ruling India was directly assumed by the British Crown. Lord Canning became the first Viceroy of India in 1858. The Government of India Act of 1858 and the Queen’s Proclamation in the same year signify this change in the Indian administration.
The Queen’s Proclamation remained the basis of the British policy in India for more than 60 years. The administrations of Lord Lytton, Lord Ripon and Lord Curzon were important during this period.
Lord Lytton was an experienced diplomat and a man of striking ability and brilliance. The British Prime Minister, Disraeli appointed him as the Viceroy of India. The prevailing famine and the political disturbances in the North West Frontier caused a great worry to the British at that time.
The famine of 1876-78 had resulted from the failure of two monsoons. It covered an area of two lakh fifty thousand square miles and affected fifty eight million people. The worst affected areas were Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad, Bombay, Central India and the Punjab.
It took a toll of five million lives in a single year. The outbreak of cholera and fever added to the misery of the suffering population. Lytton’s Government failed miserably to tackle the situation. The government’s relief measures seemed to be inadequate.
The first Famine Commission (1878-80) under Sir Richard Strachey was appointed and it made many commendable recommendations. They include provision of funds for famine relief and construction work in the annual budget. The Famine Code came into existence in 1883.
In 1878, the Vernacular Press Act was passed. This Act empowered a Magistrate to secure an undertaking from the editor, publisher and printer of a vernacular newspaper that nothing would be published against the English Government.
The equipment of the press could be seized if the offence was committed. This Act crushed the freedom of the Indian press. This created adverse public opinion against the British Government. In the same year, the Arms Act was passed.
This Act prevented the Indians to keep arms without appropriate license. Its violation would be a criminal offence. The Europeans and the Anglo- Indians were exempted from the operation of these legislations.
Lord Lytton introduced uniform salt tax throughout British India. He also abolished many import duties and supported the Free Trade Policy. This had seriously affected the Indian economic interest. The system of decentralisation of finance that had begun in the time of Lord Mayo was continued during the time of Lord Lytton.
The provincial governments were empowered with some control over the expenditure of all provincial matters like land-revenue, excise, stamps, law and justice. Lytton wanted to encourage the provinces in collecting the revenue and thereby strengthen the financial power and position of the provinces. In 1878, the Statutory Civil Service was established exclusively for Indians but this was abolished later.
The Afghan policy of the British was based on the assumed threat of Russian invasion of India. The first Afghan War (1838-42) proved to be a disastrous one for the British in India. When Lord Lytton was appointed the Viceroy of India, he was instructed by the home government to follow a forward policy.
The Russian attempt to send a mission to Afghanistan was the main cause of the Second Afghan War. Soon after the outbreak of the war in 1878, the British troops captured the territory between Kabul and Kandahar. The ruler of Afghanistan, Sher Ali fled from his country and died in 1879. His son Yakub Khan became the ruler and the British concluded the Treaty of Gandamak with him.
A British Resident was sent to Kabul but soon he was murdered along with other British officers by the Afghan rebels. Although the British troops were able to recapture Kabul, the difficulties in holding it increased due to the activities of the rebels. Suddenly in 1780, Lytton was forced to resign by the new government in England.
Lytton’s Afghan policy was severely crticised because he was responsible for the murder of the British officers including the Resident in Kabul. During his administration, millions died due to famine. The Vernacular Press Act undermined his credit.
The 1857 Revolt sowed the seeds of Indian nationalism, which lay dormant in the subconscious of the Indian people. It started the movement which was a continuous struggle against the British rule till 1947.
The historical writings of the British scholars underplayed the character of the Revolt of 1857. Sir John Lawrence was of the opinion that the Revolt was purely a military outbreak, and not a conspiracy to overthrow British rule. On the other hand the Revolt of 1857 is hailed by the Indian scholars, especially by Vir Savarkar as the First War of Indian Independence.
Two distinguished Indian historians, R.C. Majumdar and S.N. Sen, have analysed the Revolt of 1857 in depth. The two scholars differ in their opinion. S.N. Sen believes that the 1857 Revolt was part of the struggle for Indian independence. R.C. Majumdar maintains that the outbreaks before 1857, whether civil or military, were “a series of isolated incidents” ultimately culminated in the Great Revolt of 1857.
The discontent and disaffection manifested in the form of revolts against the British Government were not confined to the ruling chiefs and royal families alone. On the contrary, the British rule was disliked by the people at large in any region when it was newly introduced.
Anti-British feelings were particularly strong in those regions like Burma, Assam, Coorg, Sind, and the Punjab which were unjustly annexed to the British Empire. The Doctrine of Lapse, particularly its practical application by Lord Dalhousie, produced grave discontent and alarm among the native princes, who were directly affected.
The huge drain of wealth, the destruction of its industry and increasing land revenue had become the common features of the latter half of the eighteenth century. The East India Company, after attaining political power, used it to fund the growth of British trade and commerce at the cost of Indians.
The British damaged the Indian trade and manufacture by imposing a high tariff in Britain against Indian goods, and by encouraging all means the import of British goods to India. In England the ruin of the old handloom weavers was accompanied by the growth of the machine industry.
But in India the ruin of the millions of artisans and craftsmen was not accompanied by any alternative growth of new industrial forms. A new plantation system introduced in the year 1833 resulted in incalculable misery for the Indian peasants. This was the result of permitting Englishmen to acquire land plantations in India.
The hard hit were the peasants on the indigo plantations in Bengal and Bihar.
The Englishmen showed an arrogant attitude towards the Indians. Indiscriminate assaults on Indians by Englishmen became quite common. Also, a general alarm was raised among the Hindus and Muslims by the activities of the Christian missionaries.
The educational institutions established by the missionaries inculcated western education and culture in the place of oriental learning. The native population felt that were losing their social identity.
Discontent against the British Raj was widely prevalent among the Indian soldiers in the British army. The Indian sepoys in the British Indian army nursed a sense of strong resentment at their low salary and poor prospects of promotion. The British military officers at times showed least respect to the social values and religious sentiments of Indian sepoys in the army.
Thus, although generally faithful to their masters, the sepoys were provoked to revolt. The Vellore mutiny of 1806, a precursor to the 1857 Great Revolt, was the outcome of such tendencies on the part of the military authorities. Another important cause of the sepoys’ dissatisfaction was the order that abolished the foreign allowance or batta when they served in foreign territories. Thus the discontent was widespread and there was an undercurrent before the volcanic situation of 1857. All that needed was only a spark to set it a fire.
The 1857 Revolt was sparked off by the episode of the greased cartridges. The new Enfield rifle had been introduced for the first time in the Indian army. Its cartridges had a greased paper cover whose end had to be bitten off before the cartridge was loaded into the rifle.
The grease was composed of fat taken from beef and pig. The religious feelings of the Hindu and Muslim sepoys were terribly wounded. The sepoys believed that the government was deliberately trying to destroy their religious and cultural identity. Hence they raised the banner of revolt.
The events that led to the Revolt began on 29 March 1857 at Barrackpore. Mangal Pandey (a sepoy) refused to use the greased cartridges and single-handedly attacked and killed his officer. Mangal Pandey was hanged. The regiment to which he belonged was disbanded and sepoys guilty of rebellion punished.
The British instead of diffusing the explosive situation, paved the way for a mighty crisis by the above act. A chain reaction was set in motion. At Meerut in May 1857, 85 sepoys of the 3rd Cavalry regiment were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for refusing to use the greased catridges.
Therefore, on 10 May the sepoys broke out in open rebellion, shot their officers, released their fellow sepoys and headed towards Delhi. General Hewitt, the officer commanding at Meerut was helpless to prevent the army’s march. Next morning the rebellious army reached Delhi.
The city of Delhi fell into the hands of the rebellious soldiers on 12 May 1857. Lieutenant Willtashby, the officer in charge of Delhi could not prevent the mutineers. Soon, the mutineers proclaimed the aged nominal king, Bahadur Shah II of the Mughal dynasty as the Emperor of India.
Very soon the rebellion spread throughout northern and central India at Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur, Banares, in parts of Bihar, Jhansi and other places.
The leadership at Delhi was nominally in the hands of Bahadur Shah, but the real control was exercised by General Bakht Khan. On the side of the British the combined effort of Nicholson, Wilson, Baird Smith and Neville Chamberlain enabled the recapture Delhi by September 1857.
In Delhi, Emperor Bahadur Shah II was arrested and deported to Rangoon, where he remained in exile till he died in 1862.
At Kanpur the revolt was led by Nana Saheb, the adopted son of Baji Rao II, the last Peshwa. Nana Saheb expelled the English from Kanpur with the help of the sepoys and proclaimed himself the Peshwa. Nana Saheb in his efforts against the British was ably supported by two of his lieutenants.
One was Tantia Tope, the other was Azimullah. Sir Hugh Wheeler the commander of the British garrison at Kanpur surrendered on the 27 June 1857. But, soon Kanpur was recaptured by the British commander Sir Colin Campbell.
The principal person responsible for the revolt in Lucknow was the Begum of Oudh. With the assistance of the sepoys, the zamindars and peasants, the Begum organised an all out attack on the British. Henry Lawrence, the chief commissioner tried to defend the British.
Lawrence was killed in a bomb blast during the fight. The final relief for the British forces in Lucknow came in the form of Sir Colin Campbell, who suppressed the revolt.
Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, the widowed queen of Gangadhar Rao played a heroic role in this revolt. Rani Lakshmi Bai was affected by Dalhousie’s Doctrine of Lapse, was joined by Tantia Tope. The combined efforts of Rani and Tantia Tope saw the capture of Gwalior.
Meanwhile, Sir Hugh Rose defeated Tantia Tope and stormed Jhansi on 3 April 1858. He then captured Gwalior. The Rani of Jhansi died a soldier’s death on 17 June 1858. Tantia Tope was captured and hanged on charges of rebellion and murder in the massacre of Kanpur.
Kunwar Singh, a ruined and discontented zamindar of Jagdishpur near Oudh, was the chief organiser of the revolt in Bihar. He fought the British in Bihar. Kunwar Singh sustained a fatal wound in the battle and died on 27 April 1858 at Jagdishpur.
Ultimately the 1857 Revolt came to an end with the victory of the British. Viceroy Canning proclaimed peace throughout India.
The first and foremost cause was that the Revolt failed to embrace the whole of India. Different sections of society such as moneylenders, merchants and modern educated Indians were actually against the Revolt. The lack of interest shown by the intellectuals in the movement was a serious setback.
The resources of the British Empire were far superior to those of the rebels. Similarly, the insurgents lacked a carefully concerted general plan or a strong central organisation to plan the movements of the army and oversee their strategy. On the other hand, the British possessed better equipment.
In addition, the British were aided by new scientific inventions such as the telegraph system and postal communications. This enabled the British to keep in touch with all parts of the country and to manoeuvre their troops according to their needs. All the said factors combined to cause the defeat of the rebels of the 1857 Revolt and ended in the victory for the British.
The Revolt of 1857 though completely suppressed had shaken the very foundations of British rule in India, for the simple reason that the Revolt exhibited the popular character. It brought together the disgruntled sections of society to rise against the British rule. The common people rose up in arms often fighting with spears and axes, bows and arrows, lathis and scythes, and crude mulkets.
However, this civilian revolt was not universal but sporadic and inconsistent. Nevertheless, it added a new dimension to the character of the 1857 Revolt. Another significant aspect of the 1857 Revolt was the Hindu-Muslim unity. As far as the effects of the Revolt are concerned, it brought about fundamental changes in the character of Indian administration which was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown by the Queen’s Proclamation of 1 November, 1858.
At the same time the Governor-General received the new title of Viceroy. Lord Canning had the unique opportunity to become the Governor-General as well as the first Viceroy according to the Act of 1858. Lord Canning proclaimed the new Government at Allahabad on 1 November 1858 in accordance with the Queen’s Proclamation.
The latter has been called the Magna Carta of the Indian people; it disclaimed any extension of territory, promised religious toleration, guaranteed the rights of Indian princes and pledged equal treatment to her subjects, Indians and Europeans.
The Revolt of 1857 ended an era and sowed the seeds of a new one. The year 1857 is a great divide between the two landmarks in Indian history. One was that of British paramountcy in the first half, and the other is that of the growth of Indian nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Vellore was the capital of erstwhile North Arcot district in Tamil Nadu. At present, this district is named after its capital Vellore. It is a well fortified and beautiful city.
With the expansion of the East India Company’s rule in India, the native rulers and their dependents suffered. The native rulers either submitted or rebelled. These rebellions had no clear vision or ideal but purely motivated by the territorial interest of the native rulers and their ambition to preserve the old feudal order.
The heroism and sacrifice of individuals like Puli Thevar, Kattabomman and Marudu Brothers had no parallel. But all these leaders never organised the common people for a unified and meaningful cause. The ideas of nationalism, political consciousness and organized struggle came much later. In Vellore the native sepoys rose in revolt in 1806.
This incident differs from other previous rebellions in. The earlier rebellions were those of the native rulers. The Vellore Mutiny was organized by the sepoys. The earlier rebellions had only a regional interest. Every prince wanted to safeguard his own kingdom at any cost. But Vellore Mutiny was the result of spontaneous outflow of the feelings of the sepoys who served under the Company. It was a protest by the sepoys against the Company. This protest showed the future possibilities.
Several causes are attributed to the Vellore Mutiny. Indian sepoys had to experience numerous difficulties when they went to serve in the Company’s army. The sepoys were forced to serve under the Company since their earlier patrons (the native chieftains) were all disappearing from the scene.
The strict discipline, practice, new weapons, new methods and uniforms were all new to the sepoys. Anything new appears to be difficult and wrong for a man who is well-settled in the old way of life for a long-time. Sir John Cradock, the commander-in-chief, with the -approval of Lord-William Bentinck, the Governor of Madras, introduced a new from of turban, resembling a European hat. Wearing ear rings and caste marks were also prohibited.
The sepoys were asked to shave the chin and to trim the moustache. The sepoys felt that these were designed to insult them and their religious and social traditions. There was also a popular belief that this was the beginning of a process by which all of them would be converted to Christianity. The English treated the Indian sepoys as their inferior. There was the racial prejudice.
This was the psychological base for the sepoy mutinies in India during the Company’s rule. The sepoys once served the local chieftains (either Hindu or Muslim). The chieftains were their own kinsmen but now they served under the foreigners. They can never forget their original loyalties. The Vellore uprising was preceded by a series of protests by the Indian troops. In May 1806, the 4th Regiment rose in revolt against the new turban. The Commander-in-Chief took severe action the sepoys who were found guilty were punished with 500 to 900 lashes.
Before the mutiny secret associations were formed and meetings held in which Tipu’s family took part. On June 17th 1806 a sepoy of the 1st Regiment named Mustapha Beg, secretly informed his commanding officer, Colonel Forbes, that a plot had been planned for the extermination of the European officers and troops. But this was not taken seriously .
On the eve of the Mutiny at Vellore Fettah Hyder, the first son of Tipu, tried to form an alliance against the English and sought the help of the Marathas and the French. Fettah Hyder received secret information through one Mohommed Malick.Besides, princes Fettah Hyder and Moiz-ud-Deen in particular were active in planning the execution of the Mutiny. Thus, there was the desire to revive the old Muslim rule in this region.
The sepoys were aware of the tragic end of Puli Thevar, Khan Sahib, Kattabomman, Marudu Brothers, Tipu Sultan and others. Hence there were ill-feelings about the British in the minds of the sepoys. All these led to the rebellion.
On July 10th in the early morning the native sepoys of the 1st and 23rd Regiments started the revolt . Colonel Fancourt, who commanded the garrison, was their first victim. Colonel Me Kerras of the 23rd Regiment, was shot down on the parade-ground. Major Armstrong was the next officer to be killed during the mutiny. About a dozen other officers were also killed.
Major Cootes who was outside the fort dashed to Ranipet, 14 miles away, and informed Colonel Gillespie at 7 am . Col. Gillespie reached the Vellore fort at 9 A.M. Meantime, the rebels proclaimed Futteh Hyder, Tipu’s first son, as their new ruler and hoisted tiger-striped flag of Tipu Sultan. But the uprising was swiftly crushed by Col. Gillespie. 800 Indian soldiers were found dead in the fort alone. Six hundred soldiers were imprisoned in Tiruchi and Vellore. Some rebels were hung, some shot dead. The uprising was thus brought to a bloody end.
Tipu’s son was sent to Calcutta. The commander-in-chief and the governor were recalled. Vellore Mutiny failed. There was no proper leadership. The rebellion was also not well organized. But it is the starting point of a new era of the resistance of the sepoys to the British rule. The 18th century was marked by the resistance of the local chieftains. The first six decades of 19th century was marked by the resistance of sepoys. K.K. Pillai rejects the thesis that Vellore Mutiny led to the 1857 revolt. V.D. Savarkar calls the Vellore Mutiny of 1806 as the prelude to the first War of Indian Independence in 1857. N. Sanjivi proclaims that the Tamils had taken the real lead in the Indian freedom struggle. K. Rajayyan argues that this mutiny was a continuation of the Marudu Brothers’ resistance movement against the colonial rule.
In Tamil Nadu, as in other parts of India, the earliest expressions of opposition to British rule took the form of localized rebellions and uprisings. Chief among these was the revolt of the Palayakkarars (Poligars) against the East India Company.
The Palayakkarar system had evolved with the extension of Vijayanagar rule into Tamil Nadu. Each Palayakkarar was the holder of a territory or Palayam (usually consisting of a few villages), granted to him in return for military service and tribute.
In most cases, the Palayakkarars gave little attention to perform their duties and were interested in increasing their own powers. With their numerical strength, extensive resources, local influence and independent attitude, the Palayakkarars came to constitute a powerful force in the political system of south India.
They regarded themselves as independent, sovereign authorities within their respective Palayams, arguing that their lands had been handed down to them across a span of sixty generations. Such claims were brushed aside by the East India Company.
Among the Palayakkarars, there were two blocs, namely the Western and the Eastern blocs. The Western bloc had Marava Palayakkarars and the Eastern bloc had Telugu Palayakkarars. Puli Thevar of Nerkkattumseval headed the former and Kattabomman of Panchalamkuruchi led the latter. These two Palayakkarars refused to pay the kist (tribute) to the Nawab and rebelled.
Many of the neighbouring Palayakkarars put up certain pretexts and did not pay the tribute. Mahfuz Khan, with the assistance of the British army under Col. Heron undertook an expedition to suppress the revolt in March 1755. Puli Thevar and the Marava Palayakkarars of the Western bloc stood firm against the British. Col. Heron decided to deal with the Maravas firmly.
Col. Heron tried to change the mind of Puli Thevar by diplomatic moves and by show of force. But he failed in his attempts. Puli Thevar proceeded to consolidate his position by organising the Marava Palayakkarars of the West into a strong confederacy. He also attempted to get the support of Haider Ali of Mysore and the French against the British.
The British approached Ramnad, Pudukottai and the Dutch for help. Haider Ali couldn’t help Puli Thevar due to a Mysore- Maratha struggle. Yusuf Khan (Khan Sahib) was entrusted by the British with the duty of tackling Puli Thevar and his allies. Puli Thevar attacked Madurai and captured it from Mahfuz Khan. Puli Thevar’s military success had no parallel.
The native ruler triumphed against the British. It is a clear demonstration of the Marava might and the heroism of the patriots. But Yusuf Khan recaptured Madurai. With the help of the Palayakkarars of the Eastern bloc and the king of Travancore, Yusuf Khan had many victories. After fierce battles, Nerkkattumseval was attacked in 1759. In 1767, this city was captured by Col. Campbell.
Puli Thevar escaped and died in exile without finally fulfilling his purpose of checking the growth of the British influence. Although his attempt ended in failure, he leaves a valiant trail of a struggle for independence in the history of South India.
Vira Pandya Kattabomman became the Palayakkarar of Panchalamkuruchi at the age of thirty on the death of his father, Jagavira Pandya Kattabomman. The Company’s administrators, James London and Colin Jackson had considered him as a man without education but of peaceful disposition. Yet, several events led to the conflict between Kattabomman and East India Company.
During this period the collection of tribute served as a cause of friction. The Nawab of Arcot who had this right surrendered it to the English under the provisions of the Karnatac Treaty of 1792. Therefore, the chief of Panchalamkuruchi, Kattabomman had to pay tribute to the English.
In September 1798, the tribute from Kattabomman fell into arrears. Collector Jackson in his characteristic arrogance and rashness wrote letters to Kattabomman in a threatening language. There is a tradition to indicate that Kattabomman declared : “ It rains, the land yields, why should we pay tax to the English?”
By the 31 May 1789, the total arrears of tribute from Kattabomman amounted to 3310 pagodas. Though Jackson wanted to send an army against Kattabomman, the Madras Government did not give permission. Hence, on the 18 August 1798 Jackson sent an order to Kattabomman to meet him at Ramanathapuram within two weeks. In the meantime, Kattabomman went with arrears of tribute to meet Jackson.
Kattabomman was humiliated twice by Jackson when the former wanted to meet him at Tirukuttalam and Srivilliputttur. But he was told that he could meet the collector only at Ramanathapuram. Despite this humiliation, Kattabomman followed Jackson for twenty three days in a journey of 400 miles through the latter’s route and reached Ramanathapuram on the 19 September.
An interview was granted by Jackson and Kattabomman cleared most of the arrears leaving only 1090 pagodas as balance. During this interview Kattabomman and his Minister, Sivasubramania Pillai, had to stand before the arrogant collector for three hours together. Still he did not permit them to leave the place, but directed them to stay inside the fort.
Kattabomman suspected the intensions of Jackson. Hence, he tried to escape with his minister and brother Oomathurai. At the gate of the fort there followed a clash, in which some people including Lieutenant Clarke were killed. Sivasubramania Pillai was taken prisoner. But Kattabomman escaped. After his return to Panchalamkuruchi, Kattabomman appealed to the Madras Council submitting the facts.
The Madras Government directed Kattabomman to appear before a Committee. Meanwhile, the government released Sivasubramania Pillai and suspended the Collector, Jackson. In response Kattabomman decided to submit. He appeared before the Committee, with William Brown, William Oram and John Casmayor as members. The Committee found Kattabomman not guilty. S. R. Lushington was now appointed Collector in the place of Jackson, latter was eventually dismissed from service.
Thus the English removed the source of grievance to Kattabomman. Yet, the humiliation suffered by Kattabomman affected his self-respect. During this time, Marudu Pandyan of Sivaganga organized the South Indian Confederacy of rebels against the British.
The Tiruchirappalli Proclamation was made. He sentmissions Panchalamkuruchi. Thus a close association between Kattabomman and Marudu Pandyan established. The events now moved to a crisis. In August 1798 the son of the Palayakkarar of Sivagiri and his adviser visited Panchalamkuruchi and held consultations.
Kattabomman decided to establish his influence in Sivagiri with the aid of the son of the Palayakkarar. As the Palayakkarar of Sivagiri was a tributary to the Company, the Madras Council considered this move as a challenge to its own authority and ordered war against Kattabomman.
In May 1799, Lord Wellesley issued orders from Madras for the advance of forces from Tiruchirappalli, Thanjavur and Madurai to Tirunelveli. Major Bannerman, armed with extensive powers, assumed the command of the expedition.
On the 1 September, 1799 the Major served an ultimatum directing Kattabomman to surrender and attend on him at Palayamkottai on the 4th. Kattabomman replied that he would submit on a lucky day.
Bannerman considered this reply as evasive and decided on military action.
On 5 September Kattabomman’s fort was attacked. On the 16th reinforcements reached from Palayamkottai. In a clash at Kolarpatti the Palayakkarar troops suffered heavy casualty and Sivasubramania Pillai was taken prisoner. Kattabomman escaped to Pudukkottai. The ruler of Pudukkottai captured Kattabomman from the jungles of Kalapore and handed him over to the British.
Bannerman brought the prisoners to an assembly of the Palayakkarars and after a mockery of trial sentenced them to death. Sivasubramania Pillai was executed at Nagalapuram on the 13th of September. On the 16th of October Vira Pandyan was tried before an assembly of Palayakkarars, summoned at Kayattar. In an assertive tone and with contempt for death he admitted the charges levelled against him.
Thereupon, Bennerman announced death penalty. On the 17th of October Kattabomman was hanged to death at a conspicuous spot near the old fort of Kayattar. Vira Pandyan faced the last moments of his life with the pride of a hero.
Despite the exemplary repression of Palayakkarars in 1799, rebellion broke out again in 1800, this time in a more cohesive and united manner.
Although the 1800-1801 rebellion was to be categorized in the British records as the Second Palayakkarar War, it assumed a much broader character than its predecessor. It was directed by a confederacy consisting of Marudu Pandian of Sivaganga, Gopala Nayak of Dindugal, Kerala Verma of Malabar and Krishnappa Nayak and Dhoondaji of Mysore.
The insurrection, which broke out in Coimbatore in June 1800, soon spread to Ramanathapuram and Madurai. By May 1801, it had reached the northern provinces, where Marudu Pandian and Melappan provided the leadership.
Oomathurai, the brother of Kattabomman emerged as a key leader. In February 1801, Oomathurai and two hundred men by a cleverly move took control of Panchalamkuruchi Fort. The fort now re-occupied and reconstructed by rebel forces, Panchalamkuruchi became the centre of the uprising. Three thousand armed men of Madurai and Ramanathapuram, despatched by Marudu Pandian, joined up with the Panchalamkuruchi forces.
However, British forces quickly asserted itself. The Palayakkarar forces based at Panchalamkuruchi were crushed. By the orders of the government, the site of the captured fort was ploughed up and sowed with castor oil and salt so that it should never again be inhabited.The British forces quickly overpowered the remaining insurgents.
The Marudu brothers and their sons were put to death. Oomathurai and Sevatiah were beheaded at Panchalamkuruchi on 16 November, 1801. Seventy-three of the principal rebels were sentenced to transportation. So savage and extensive was the death and destruction wrought by the English that the entire region was left in a state of terror. The suppression of the Palayakkarar rebellions of 1799 and 1800-1801 resulted in the liquidation of the influence of the chieftains. Under the terms of the Karnatac Treaty (31 July, 1801), the British assumed direct control over Tamil Nadu. The Palayakkararr system came to a violent end and the Company introduced the Zamindari settlement in its place.