This chapter starts with events that occurred in 1757 when the British had established a strong presence in India. They had high-quality weapons and ammunition, as well as a strong financial position. The Princes of the Indian states, on the other hand, were short-sighted and lacked cohesiveness. They were fighting with each other unnecessarily. Some even requested British assistance in resolving disputes with other kingdoms. Meanwhile, the East India Company took full advantage of the situation. The British zealously implemented the principle of ‘Divide and Rule,’ and many Indian princes were undervalued. Although some people supported the British, there were also plenty who opposed them. Tipu Sultan of Mysore was a foresighted ruler who fought the British in the Anglo-Mysore IV War and died in 1799.
As we move through the chapter, we hear about religious and orthodox authorities preaching bad practices like untouchability, Sati, and child marriage, among others. The British hated the Indians because they had lost their self-esteem. Local farmers were compelled to vacate their land when they were slapped with high taxes. The thumbs of skilled artists and artisans were often hacked off. The British made their goods in England, and there was no import charge. As a result, the British’s primary motivation was to maximize profit and wealth through the use of unfair techniques.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a scholarly Bengali man, began transforming Indian society between 1772 and 1833. He founded the Brahmo Samaj and spread the belief that all religions share similar teachings and concepts, and hence they are all the same. He was passionate about science and current knowledge, and he created publications that were eventually suppressed by the British in 1823. He was also against terrible customs in our society, such as Sati, child marriage, polygamy, and the caste system. He was instrumental in the abolition of the Sati practice in society.
With the passage of the Regulation III Act in 1818, the British continued to oppress the Indians. An Indian could be imprisoned without a trial in a court of law under this Act. This was the time when Indians were oppressed. In 1829, the British shipped commodities worth millions of rupees. The Indian industries were severely harmed as a result, and the British began to profit. In addition, the British exploited the Indians in a variety of ways. Lord Macaulay advised that Indians be taught the English language in 1835. English schooling developed clerks and the British employed Indians in small occupations. In addition, the education policy developed a new generation of intellectuals who were aware of the British rule’s social vices and educated their peers appropriately.
By 1856, the British had almost overrun the entire country, and their oppression of the local population had reached its pinnacle. Multiple revolts erupted as a result of this. The Santhals rose in revolt in 1855, slaughtering the British overlords and their followers. The Sepoy Mutiny erupted in 1857, and Mangal Pandey played a significant role in it since he attacked his regiment’s adjutant and was soon executed. The sepoys marched towards Delhi, shouting pro-Bahadur Shah Zafar slogans. Eventually, the landlords joined them in their revolutionary cause. People began to distribute chapatis with the message that the native monarch needed their assistance. To communicate the message, lotus flowers were also distributed among the Indian soldiers.
Several monarchs joined the fight for freedom, including Begum Hazrat Mahal of Lucknow, Maulvi Ahmedulla of Faizabad, Azimulla Khan, Tatya Tope, Peshwa Nana Saheb of the Maratha dynasty, and Kunwar Singh of Bihar. This was, in truth, the start of India’s independence struggle.