ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Special IssuesSubscribe to Special Issues

On the Rebellion of 1857

Colonial arguments about 1857 largely centred on the nature of India and the way it should be ruled. For their part, Indian arguments after independence were similarly debates about Indian nationhood. These debates continue to the present: was there a multicultural polity in place or a monocultural identity at work? The various arguments on the nature of 1857 as also history of the idea of a rebellion are also in a subliminal sense a debate on identity and developing a nationhood.

History as Revenge and Retaliation

Savarkar's account of 1857 has served to legitimise retributive violence in the name of Hindu nationalism. It is based on a conception of how the history of the "Hindu Rashtra" ought to be written, while enunciating a model of politics based on the opposition between "friend" and "foe".

The Rebel Army in 1857

Debate persists as to the role of the Company's soldiers in the events of 1857. There were several regiments that were at the head of the resistance against the British, but as this paper argues, in very many instances, their resistance was not representative of wider class and caste interests. A reading of the mutiny across its many centres reveals that the sepoys' resistance, while largely unplanned and even spontaneous, did not reflect the desire to reimpose the traditional order of things, or to even espouse the interests of the old peasant society from which many of them, especially those in the Bengal army, hailed. Moreover, there were also signs that the institutions or the initial order the sepoys sought to establish in centres such as Delhi or Gwalior were more "democratic" and egalitarian in character.

Dalit 'Viranganas' and Reinvention of 1857

Contemporary Hindi dalit popular literature has emerged as a critical source for deeper insights into dalit politics and identity. This paper examines the ways in which this literature has dealt with the role of dalit women in the revolt of 1857. It interrogates both conventional and historic writings on 1857 and mainstream portrayals of dalit women and also dalit writings on the subject.

Inscribing the Rani of Jhansi in Colonial 'Mutiny' Fiction

This paper scrutinises four, little-known, 19th century "Mutiny" novels, illuminating their fascinating diversities, as well as the politics of representation. It reveals how some of these texts cast the rani of Jhansi as cruel and licentious, situating her role in the Rebellion within contemporary colonial stereotypes. However, two unusual novels, Philip Meadows Taylor's Seeta (1872) and Michael White's lesser-known Lachmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi (1901), interestingly enough, drew upon the paradigm of the warrior-woman and projected her as a fearless freedom fighter in a manner that surprisingly fed into later Indian nationalist iconography.

Mangal Pandey: Film and History

Debate over the film, Mangal Pandey, has raged on its putative lack of objectivity on the one hand, and on the other, on its depiction of an event that still has the power to "move" people. Ever since films emerged as a mass medium of significance, the notions of the "public sphere" in democracy have changed as well. This is especially so over remembering an event such as 1857, on which Indians continue to have very differing opinions. This paper argues that concerns over the film, as with 1857 itself, speak of an unresolved question of Indian democracy, i e, whether the two domains of Indian democracy, comprising the "elite" and the "subaltern", can ever combine to produce a "politics of the people". Such a politics would give Indian democracy both a working sense of sovereignty and a lively sense of being truly a democracy.

Remembering 1857

To discuss the practice of memory and its relations to politics, social scientists rely on three kinds of practices - memorialising, memorising and the act of remembering/forgetting. The commemoration of "1857" is unique in that official celebrations of the event have been instituted even as 1857 continues to refigure in myths and endures as a symbol of popular resistance. The articles in this special issue address the seeming contradictions and complexities that "remembering" 1857 involves, and the tension that prevails between different kinds of recall.

Multiple Meanings of 1857 for Indians in Britain

Many historians and commentators have discussed the disparate roles and responses of various Britons and Indians in India as well as the opinions and public policies of Britons in Britain during the struggle of 1857. This paper complements such work by highlighting how Indians living in British society related to those events and also the ways in which British attitudes toward them changed before, during and after 1857.

New Lamps for Old

Education policy as it came to be elucidated over the 19th century was driven by colonial imperatives. The early 19th century was a time of experimentation, it was a period of acquaintance and also of open ideological debate. Barely a few decades later, however, and especially following the revolt of 1857, as the Raj asserted itself, and imperialism gained in zeal, some of this early experimentation was lost in the drive for more Anglicisation of education. The setting up of the universities in the three presidency towns reflected the growing assertiveness in colonial ideology. This article, however, looks at two experiments in education, located in the vernacular medium, that had their origins in the earlier period of new understanding, but were decisively affected by the events of 1857 and reactions to it.

The Beginning of 'People's War' in India

The British response to the mutiny led to fundamental changes in the manner of their rule over the next century. But in several respects, the battles waged in course of the mutiny of 1857 were radically different from those fought before. As this article argues, it marked the advent of "people's war" as opposed to the "limited war" of the past. Not only were militia and local levies raised from among the citizenry but the deliberate savagery inflicted on the defeated civilian populace was a conscious policy of demoralising the enemy. Other effective strategies that were developed to draw civilians into the war effort involved the use of religion and the deliberate use of rumour.

Global Imbalances, Reserve Management and Public Infrastructure in India

If there were no policy interventions of any kind in the foreign exchange markets, and all markets were present and deep, it is far from clear that the size and direction of global imbalances would be any different than they are today. What would be different is the manner in which surplus savings are being managed. The real problem today is not a macroeconomic one to be alleviated by a complex policy coordination of monetary and fiscal policies. Instead, it is a microeconomic problem of how to best manage national savings.

A Microfinance Institution with a Difference

Sanghamithra is a microfinance institution set up to promote self-governed institutions of the poor and be totally unlike the typical MFIs that are known to focus exclusively on financial sustainability and use strong arm methods for loan recovery. It works with self-help groups (11,000) and watershed management associations, in tandem with non-government organisations and other agencies to foster social and economic inclusion and self-reliance.

Pages

Back to Top