Essay on the Causes of the Failure of 1857 Revolt


The revolt of 1857 had very narrow social and geographical basis that contributed to its collapse. The revolt of 1857 did not spread to South India and most of Eastern and western India. Rulers of most of the native states of India and big Zamindars were afraid of British might and distanced themselves from the revolt .the Sindhia of British might and distanced them from the revolt.

The Sindhia of Gwalior, the Holkar of Indore, the Nizam of Hyderabad,The raja of Jodhpur and other raj put rulers, the Nawab of Bhopal ,the rulers of Patiala, Nabha ,Jind and other Sikh chieftains of Punjab, the Maharaja of Kashmir ,the Ranas of Nepal and a large number of big Zamindars stood firm behind British Governor -General Canning remarked that these rulers and chiefs “acted as the breakwaters to the storm which would have otherwise swept us in one great wave”. Sir W. Russell has aptly remarked.

Had all the Indians united against the English with all their power and vigor? The English would have been ruined altogether. The social base of the revolution also covered discontented and dispossessed Zamindars and rajas.


The modern educated Indians did not support the revolt. The dignity among kings and people, whatever might be the reason; orgnization and leadership. Rani Lakshmi Bai. NanaSahib, Kunwar Singh,Tantya Tope though exhibited valour and chivalry, failed to provide proper leadership to the revolt. R.C. Majumdar has aptly remarked, “The most important cause was the lack of general plan and central organistaion guiding the whole movement”.

A number of isolated outbreaks without any link or common plan between them could hardly succeed against British forces, directed by a strong will and determination by a central organisation which could command the resources of India and British.” The propose of sepoy mutiny also overpowered India, or of a modern world. Bipin chandra observes. “It lacked a forward – looking programme, co-herent idiology, a political prospective or a vision of the future society and economy”. British imperialism with a developing capatalist economy succeeded in neutralising the resistance of sepoys through supply of men, money and superior armed strength.

Their control over the sea, better means of communication at their command, factories producing amunition for the army and help from the native put them definitely in an advantageous position. Britishers were also fortunate to have some able military generals to deal with the situation. The mutineers had no understanding of war startegy. In the face of superior might of Britishers it was very difficult to sustain a prolonged campaign. By the end of 1859, British authority over India was fully restored, but the revolt had not been in vain.

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