August 18, 2006

Looking at Indian History through Vellore Revolt

For sometime by now, I have been emphasizing that there is a need to redefine some of the historic concepts as found in the Indian history and more specifically the Colonial India. I have been pleading that there is need to rewrite some of the aspects of the Indian history or in other words some chapters of Indian history. I have given my views in my posts like Need of Rewriting Gandhian Era, then in Quasi Mutiny of 1824 by 47 Native Infantry at Barrackpore and also in Bindee Tiwari. Earlier also, I have given similar views in another post in Colonial Interpretation Requires Revision.

Recently I have come across some posts suggesting the same thing. I have come across a post at Varnam in the post An Independence Day Story. In the post, the author had described the incidence of the Mutiny of the Vellore in year 1806. He had described in detail the incidence and finally gave his conclusions also. He wrote, "In fact this was not the first revolt. On the eve of Buxar (1763), the company’s Indian Sepoys refused order and were horribly executed by Hector Munro. Also during the during the Burmese (1824), Sindh, and Punjab war (1840-49), sepoys staged mutinies when denied compensation for the loss of caste while serving overseas." This had been borrowed from "The First Mutiny, India: a history by John Keary" by the aforesaid blogger.

On the other hand, R. C. Majumdar, in British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance_Part I, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan Bombay, Third Edition, 1988, had written that Vellore Mutiny was one of the most serious mutiny having similarity to the Mutiny of 1857. In the same book he had finally concluded that the 1857 was not the first war of independence. In his arguments he had referred to the all such cases which he had traced since 1740 while tracing the genesis of "Discontent and Disaffection" among the civilian and military people of India in the chapter 13 of above mentioned book.

The blogger at Varnam had also concluded that it was a result of Vellore Mutiny that the British administration had started recruiting from Bihar, Bengal and United Provinces. He had also pointed out that the flogging as a punishment was also stopped. But these conclusions are not correct. In his book, Forty One Years in India by Frederick Sleigh Roberts, it is mentioned that the flogging was still practiced during the second Afghan War as a punishment. The book by Robert is available on Guttbenberg site at the link Frederick Sleigh Roberts. Similarly, the issue of avoiding interference in customs and traditions of sepoys was adopted as a policy by Board of Directors of the East India Company. It was the Secretary of State of Board of Control which was influencing the working of the governor generals in India. It have tried to bring out this aspect in two of my posts written in Hindi on this blog itself.

Varnam blogger who had written the post on Vellore Mutiny had borrowed the links from Instant Kaapi at the First Mutiny. Therein another issue had been touched upon. Karunanidhi of DMK had taken the issue of giving the right place to Vellore Mutiny in history text books. But such issues when taken up by politicians always acquire a different hue. Similarly BJP had also tried to touch this issue. They had even brought into the Text Book by NCERT that 1857 was even spread to South India also. But the Communist historians strongly contended and gave it a political touch to this issue.

I here speak as a student of history. I am not affiliated to any political party as such. The issue is not that which party want to project which aspect of Indian history in what form. The issue is that there is need of rewriting of Indian history in post 1947 period. There is need to visit the original sources once again and seek afresh the data and details about India as it had emerged during the Modern Period.

The link on Varnam has been traced through DesiPundit.

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