Class VIII, NCERT Social (History) – Our Pasts III (Part 1)
Chapter 5, When People Rebel 1857 and After
NCERT Solutions of History Chapter Exercise Questions (Important only)
Question.1: What was the demand of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi that was refused by the British?
Solution: Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi demanded the company to recognize her adopted son as the heir of the kingdom after the death of her husband. But the British refused to accept her adopted son as the ruler of Jhansi. By ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ introduced by Lord Dalhousie, if an Indian ruler died without a male heir his kingdom would ‘lapse’ and such kingdom would be annexed by the British Empire.
Question.2: What did the British do to protect the interests of those who converted to Christianity?
Solution: In 1850, a new law was introduced to make conversion to Christianity easier. This law allowed an Indian who had converted to Christianity to inherit the property of his ancestors.
Question.3: What objections did the sepoys have to the new cartridges that they were asked to use?
Solution: The new cartridges were covered with the wrapper made with the fat of cows and pigs. Before loading these cartridges in the rifles a sepoy had to bite it to open the wrapper. This affected the religious sentiments of the Hindus and the Muslims as the Hindus consider cows as Holy and the Muslims consider the pigs as the dirty animals. Therefore, the sepoys refused to use these new cartridges.
Question.4: How did the last Mughal Emperor live the last years of his life?
Solution: Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Emperor of the Mughal dynasty. Although after Aurangzeb, there was no powerful Mughal ruler but Mughal Emperors continued to be symbolically important. In fact, when a massive rebellion against broke out in 1857, Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Mughal Emperor at that time, was persuaded and declared as the leader by the rebellions. He played an important role in the revolt of 1857 against the British. Once the revolt was suppressed Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried in court, blinded and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sons were shot dead in cold blood before him. At last he and his wife were sent to prison in Rangoon in October, 1858. Bahadur shah Zafar died in Rangoon jail in November, 1862.
Question.5: What could be the reasons for the confidence of the British rulers about their position in India before May, 1857?
Solution: The reasons for the confidence of the British rulers about their position in India before May, 1857 were too many as described below:
- There were several riots, rebellion and revolts which occurred before May, 1857. But all these were localized and were suppressed by the British then and there.
- In the mid 18th century, the powers of Nawabs, rajas, zamindars etc. were eroded. The freedom of the Indian rulers was reduced, their armed forces were disbanded, and their revenue and territories were taken by stages.
- The Mughal Emperor had lost its control over the provinces. The traditional rulers fought among themselves and could not present a united front against a powerful foreign rule.
- Residents had been stationed in many courts by the British as their representatives. These residents kept informing the governors about the important developments in every kingdom.
- Indian princes and chiefs whom the British had allowed to continue used to side with the British during revolts before May, 1857.
So, the British were very confident that their position in India was very strong and no one could challenge them in anyway before May, 1857. The revolt was a great shock to them as they thought the disturbance caused by the issue of the cartridges would also die down and never expected that this could take the shape of such a massive rebellion.
Question.6: What impact did Bahadur Shah Zafar’s support to the rebellion have on the people and the ruling families?
Solution: There was a wide spread impact on the people of this country and its ruling families since Bahadur Shah Zafar accepted leadership and extended his support to the rebellion. He asked all the chiefs and rulers of the country to come forward and organize a confederacy of Indian states to fight the British. This single step taken by Bahadur Shah had great implications. All small and big kingdoms, kings, Nawabs, Rajas, princes, zamindars, chiefs and even many Hindu and Muslim religious leaders welcomed this and joined hands to rebel against the British. Regiment after regiment mutinied and started to join other troops at nodal points like- Delhi, Kanpur and Lucknow. The people of towns and villages also joined the rebellion in mass and rallied around local leaders, zamindars and rulers who were prepared to regain their lost authority and fight against the British. The British had not expected this to happen. They thought that like many other revolts which occurred in the past, this revolt would also die down. But Bahadur Shah Zafar’s decision to bless the rebellion changed the situation dramatically. This filled the people with inspiration, enthusiasm, courage, hope and confidence to rise up to the situation and act against the British.
Question.7: How did the British succeed in securing the submission of the rebel landowners of Awadh?
Solution: A situation of wide spread rebellion starated to developed in the region of Awadh in particular. The company used all its might to suppress the revolt everywhere. Especially, it wanted to win the hearts of the Zamindars of Awadh. It bought reinforcements from England and passed new laws to convict the rulers. When British were defeated, initially many rulers and zamindars of Awadh took it as their encouragement to join the revolt. In the same way when Delhi had fallen many zamindars and landlords of Awadh deserted. In order to win back the hearts of the rebel landlords and zamindars the British announced rewards for loyal landlords that they would be allowed to continue traditional rights over their lands. Those who had rebelled were told that, if they submitted to the British and if they had not killed any white people they would remain safe and their rights and claims to land would not be denied. In this way the revolt of Awadh was suppressed.
Question.8: In what ways did the British change their policies as a result of the rebellion of 1857?
Solution: The rebellion had clearly exposed the weakness of the company. The company could not suppress the rebellion on its own. They had to bring reinforcement from England for this purpose. Once they regained the control of the country, they made a number of changes in their policies towards India. Given below are some of the important changes that were introduced by the British:
1. In 1858, a proclaim of the Queen of England was issued, which transformed the powers of the East India Company to the British crown as it would be responsible for the administration of Indian affairs.
2. All the ruling kings, chiefs were given the assurance that their kingdoms would never be annexed by the British, provided they should be loyal to the British crown.
3. The Doctrine of Lapse was abolished, the right to adoption was recognized and the adopted son would be treated as the heir to the throne.
4. The proportion of Indians in the English army was reduced. All important posts were given to the Europeans only.
5. The proclamation assured to the Indians that the British would not interfere in the religious and social affairs of Indians.
6. The land and property of the Muslims were confiscated and they were treated with suspicion and hostility.
7. Policies were made to protect and safeguard the landlords and zamindars and give them security of rights over their lands and other properties.