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Globus Press

Farmers and Tribal Revolts in British India

  • History
  • Published on Oct 10, 2012
  • Language - English
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The Tribal communities living in large part of India participated in numerous revolts against the British occupation from time to time. They vented their ire against intrusion of imperialist forces and the expansion of the British dominion in India. The most important factor was their opposition to the entry of money lenders, revenue collecting farmers and businessmen in their simple life. Their imperialistic economic policies and suppression had been responsible for bringing the Tribal communities under the British rule. The Tribal revolts, their irrepressible courage and extreme dedication and the state machinery’s brutal maneuvers to suppress them, was a remarkable development in India’s struggle against foreign rule. On one hand disciplined British India troops equipped with modern day weapons, on the other hand Tribal soldiers equipped with Bows & Arrows, axes and other ancient weaponries. They were angry, disorganized and fought a unequal battle as a result of which they were killed in lakhs. Among there various revolts the most important were the revolt by Koala tribesmen from 1820 to 1837, Santhal revolt from 1855-56, Rampas in 1879 and the Mundas from 1895-1901. The main jolt of the imperialistic operation was faced by the farmers, as a result they fought against the British rule in each and every step. Sadly though, references to such struggles are not easily available. As seen earlier, all the revolts led by the Jamindar and feudal lords depended mainly on farmers. This fact is true for the mutiny of 1857. Finally their general outburst came out in the form of series of revolts against the British imperialism throughout the country for eg. The Vahabi movement (which at one time had taken Bengal, Bihar and Punjab by storm), Farzi movement and Kuka revolt of Punjab. After 1858, the face off between the British India Government and the farmers increased in magnitude and changed its character. Now farmers started agitating directly against the Government, foreign owners of tea gardens and Indian landlords-moneylenders. The Neel (indigo) agitation of Bengal in 1859-60 is one of the largest farmer agitation of the modern times. European farmers had a monopoly over Neel farming. The foreigners used to force Indian farmers to harvest Neel and to achieve their means they used to brutally suppress the farmer. They were illegally beaten up, detained in order to force them to sell Neel at non-profitable rates. The Government was forced to appoint a committee which was to dwell into the corrupt practices related with this system and suggest means to reduce it. Yet the oppression of landowners and agitation of the farmers against them continued. Farmers declined to pay at such high revenue rates and were finally suppressed by the Government which used all the brutal methods in its book. This book contains plenty of substance for scholars, but the writing has the verve and clarity to seize and entertain the general reader as well.