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Example research essay topic: East India Company British East India - 1,644 words

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... left hanging from trees along their line of march. At Back-ke-Serai, five miles from Delhi, they met the main army of the mutineers and though the British won the field they failed to destroy the sepoy army which fled back to the protection of the walls of Delhi. The British established themselves on Delhi ridge, a thin spur of high ground to the north of the city. There, two months after they had been forced out of the city, the British once again looked down on the massive ramparts of the capital of the Moghuls.

After the Britons came, the siege didn't last long. Twice the British breached the great walls only to see their badly outnumbered assault forces thrown back by the sepoys. Finally, a breach was made in the Kashmiri Gate and led by Nicholson this time the attackers were not checked. They swarmed into the city and after a week of bitter street fighting in the narrow streets and alleyways they forced their way through to the open ground in front of the Red Fort. The fort was deserted, Bahadur and his sons having fled to the imagined safety of Humayun's tomb on the outskirts of the city. British officers ate their dinner that night in the marbled mosques and great audience hall of the old king.

Delhi was again British. Only one thing had marred the triumph. In the attack on the Kashmiri gate Nicholson had been hit by a mutineer's bullet and died soon after. Most of his men having sacked the city as promised shouldered their loot and headed home. They had come, they said, for Nicholson and not to fight for the British. With his death their service was over.

The 1857 rebellion, which began with the mutiny of Indian troops stationed near Delhi, had several chief results: a year-long insurrection that changed attitudes -- both British and Indian -- towards British rule of India dissolution of the British East India Company beginning of the British Raj, the period during which the U. K. directly ruled the Indian subcontinent the end of the Mughal Empire after the British exiled Emperor Bahadur Shah to Burma Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army, drawn mostly from Muslim units from Bengal, mutinied at the Meerut cantonment near Delhi, starting a year-long insurrection against the British. The mutineers then marched to Delhi and offered their services to the Mughal emperor, whose predecessors had suffered an ignoble defeat 100 years earlier at Plassey... The insurrection was sparked by the introduction of cartridges rumored to have been greased with pig or cow fat, which was offensive to the religious beliefs of Muslim and Hindu sepoys (soldiers). In a wider sense, the insurrection was a reaction by the indigenous population to rapid changes in the social order engineered by the British over the preceding century and an abortive attempt by the Muslims to resurrect a dying political order.

After the mutineers (or patriots) finally surrendered on June 20, 1858, the British ended both the East India Company and the Mughal Empire, sending the deposed Emperor Bahadur Shah to exile in Burma. With the coming of the Raj, a British governor general (or "Viceroy" as he was known when representing the British crown) ruled India, and he in turn reported to the secretary of state for India, a member of Prime Minister's cabinet. The mutiny, which ended by destroying the Mughal Empire, had major effects on the U. K. as well, forcing the British government to assume direct control over the Indian subcontinent. At home, many English, who felt betrayed by peoples they thought they had befriended, experienced the revolt as a trauma.

Newspapers of the period emphasized atrocities, particularly toward women and children, committed by the rebels, and these became the subjects of very well known contemporary paintings. Under the administration of the Marquess of Dalhousie (Governor-General 1848 - 56), the last of the independent Indian states, including the wealthy Muslim state of Oudh, were annexed by the British. To consolidate this new territory, some degree of Westernisation was introduced: an Indian railway and road system was developed and the first three Indian universities were founded, creating a tier of higher-caste men educated according to the British system but not fully incorporated into those careers of civil service and army awaiting them. Child marriage and the practice of suttee previously had been abolished and, in 1856, a regulation was passed requiring sepoys to serve overseas thereby losing caste. Both the annexation and consolidation heightened tension between government and population and mutiny was inevitable when the Indian section of the army was allocated cartridges smeared with the fat of cows and pigs, unclean to both Hindu and Muslim elements.

The mutiny lasted thirteen months: from the rising of Meerut on 10 May 1857 to the fall of Gwalior on 20 June 1858. The sepoys were quickly joined by large numbers of civilians supporting the reinstatement of both a Moghul and a Maratha emperor and by landlords, particularly those of Oudh, penalised by the new administration and its policy of exporting raw materials for manufacture in Britain. Historians agree that the mutiny was characterised by violent reprisals on either side but, at least in British historical tradition, the most significant events are the massacres at Meerut, Cawnpore and Lucknow; post-mutiny literature dwelling on the fate of women and children especially. The mutiny, regarded by many as India's first War of Independence, was to have important consequences and the structure of British India was to be re-organised extensively. Increasingly, India came under direct Crown rule as the British East India Company was dispossessed of its. Despite the severity of European reprisal as each territory had been regained and its subsequent defensive proposals of military alteration, a measure of conciliation had been introduced to administrative policy.

Integration of the higher castes and princes was now considered important, land policy was revised and plans for radical social change were shelved. The attitude of British India and the Metropolitan was now dual: on the one hand, a sense that the conservative mistrust was justified and, on the other, that the alienation between the two cultures must be lessened if government was to be maintained. Both parts of this duality are explored in the colonial literature of Britain and British India and in Colonial Representations of India in Prose Fiction. The Mutiny failed due to the following reasons: Native Indian states, influenced by the example of powerful Hyderabad, did not join the rebels. Sikh soldiers of the Punjab area remained loyal to the British throughout. The Sikhs were a strong, well trained army, who the British had conquered using Indian soldiers.

The aging Bahadur Shah was neither a brave general, nor an astute leader of the people. In England, the mutiny proved the last straw on the heavy load of criticism and opposition which the East India Company had carried for some time. In August 1858, by the Act for the Better Government of India, its political authority was entrusted to a secretary of state. In August 1858 the British crown assumed control of India from the East India Company and in 1877 Queen Victoria was crowned empress of India.

The mutiny played a pivotal role in Anglo-Indian history. The British afterward became cautious and defensive about their empire, while many Indians remained bitter and would never trust their rulers again. It was not until the emergence of Indian National Congress and Mahatma Gandhi that Indians re-gathered their momentum for home rule. Apart from the fury of the British, another significant impact for India was the abolishment of the EIC. The British Parliament finally realized that it was inappropriate for a private company like the EIC to exercise such enormous powers and control a land the size of India.

In 1858, the East India Company was dissolved and the administration of India became the responsibility of the Crown. Direct rule on India was exercised through the India Office, a British department of state and till 1947, India became known as the Raj, the Crown Jewel of Queen Victoria's extensive empire. The 1857 revolt which had forged an unshakable unity amongst Hindus and Muslims alike, was an important milestone in our freedom struggle - providing hope and inspiration for future generations of freedom lovers. However, the aftermath of the 1857 revolt also brought about dramatic changes in colonial rule. After the defeat of the 1857 national revolt - the British embarked on a furious policy of "Divide and Rule", fomenting religious hatred as never before.

Resorting to rumors and falsehoods, they deliberately recast Indian history in highly communal colors and practised pernicious communal politics to divide the Indian masses. That legacy continues to plague the sub-continent today. However, if more people become aware of the colonial roots of this divisive communal gulf - it is possible that some of the damage done to Hindu-Muslim unity could be reversed. If Hindus and Muslims could rejoin and collaborate in the spirit of 1857, the sub-continent may yet be able to unshackle itself from it's colonial past. All in all on both sides, feats of heroism took place by the score until the largest British army finally resolved the campaign. They fought like devils!

This phrase applies to both sides in the war. Bibliography Adas, Michael; Twentieth Century Approaches to the Indian Mutiny of 1857 - 58. Amin, Agha Humayun; The Lucknow Campaign 1857 - 58. Edwards, Michael; Battles of the Indian Mutiny. Game, Alexander; The Sepoy Rebellion, 1857 - 58. Embree, Ainslie; 1857 in India: Mutiny or War of Inde Kaye, John; History of the Indian Mutiny.

Rikhye, Ravi; British Regiments in India 1857 - 58. S. B. , Chaudhuri, Theories of the Indian Mutiny. Taylor, P. J. O.

Chronicles of the Mutiny and Other Historical Sketches Thapar, Romila; A History of India


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Research essay sample on East India Company British East India

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