Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 - India

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Investigate the causes of the uprising and consider the implications of the two terms "mutiny" and "war of independence". Why did the British prefer the term mutiny? Why did the certain Indians prefer to see the incident as a war of independence? What were the consequences of the upheavel?

As with any conflict or controversy there are always two sides to the debate, and the events in

India during 1857 are certainly no exception. Given the situation in India during the nineteenth

century it is hardly surprising that such a polarisation of opinion exists regarding the context of

the rebellious events during that year. The British being in control of the subcontinent and their

sense of superiority over their Indian subjects, would naturally seek to downplay any acts of

rebellion. While the Indian subjects on the other hand would arguably wish to exaggerate and over

emphasise the importance of these events, as a means of promoting the nationalist cause for self

determination. The truth of the events themselves, does it lie towards the British account or the

Indian pro nationalistic side, or could there be a certain amount of truth in both sides of the


Metcalf in his account cites three indisputable factors behind the outbreak of rebellion in 1857.

Primarily he sees `accumulating grievances of the Sepoy Army of Bengal' as the most important

factor. The reasons behind this `deterioration of morale' amongst the army lay with several

reasons. Much of the Sepoy army was comprised of `Brahmins and other high caste Hindus' who

assisted in promoting a `focus of sedition'. The `generally poor standard of British officers', plus

the lack of improvement to the overall position of those men serving in the army also increased

the level of tension. At this point...