Spontaneously Growing Nationalism in India Aftermath Revolt of 1857



 Aftermath Revolt of 1857
Aftermath Revolt of 1857
” The Revolt of 1857 was both a culmination and a beginning. No armed struggle of that magnitude against the colonial rule took place thereafter…[]… Despite some coordination and communication among the leaders, it was essentially a large scale enactment of earlier efforts. Its failure was a landmark in the political consciousness of the nation, as it heralded a new phase in the struggle against colonialism.”
  – K.N. Panikkar { From Revolt to Agitation: Beginning of The National Movement}
Though turned into a failure on a magnified spectrum, the Revolt of 1857 was a broader manifestation of emerging mass nationalism in India. While the British 🇬🇧 East India Company was functioning for consolidating its sovereignty in India🇮🇳, it was a ferocious expression of the Indian’s resistance and open rebellion against the colonial power and their oppressive policies. The profundity of intimidation and Macaulayian ambition of installing English Medium Education in India cumulatively instilled a sense of national consciousness in Indians. They learnt about the real struggles of Americans against Britishers in 1776 and the French Revolution against their monarch in 1789 for ascertaining Democracy in their respective nations. These historical European instances ignited the sparks of Political Consciousness, Patriotism and Nationalism in India. Prominent leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahadev Govind Ranade realized the necessity to create consciousness amongst people and familiarize them with these nationalist thoughts for reforming India. Thereafter several political associations were established for igniting political consciousness and promoting nationalism amongst Indians, numerous national movements were started against the colonial regime and a new era of political consciousness and national awakening initiated in India.


“The Indian national movement arose from social conditions, from the conditions of imperialism and its system of exploitation, and from social and economic forces generated within Indian society under the conditions of that exploitation.”    – R.P Dutt
The British Raj completely gained control in India aftermath Revolt of 1857 and they were constantly struggling for solidifying their power in India by eliminating the exploitative policies launched by the British East India Company. For instance: when a massive uprising magnificently rose against the coercive indigo plantation system in Bengal in 1859 called Blue Rebellion, the British government comprehended the urgency to abolish not only the particular plantation system but all such tyrannical policies that could lead to such enormous disruption in future. Eventually, they designed new administrative, political policies for monitoring India and a distinct system of governance called Department System was introduced under the Government of India Act 1858. However, the new policies might not be observed as vicious and burdensome in short terms as it realistically turned for the people in long terms. The dissatisfaction stemmed against the colonial regime aftermath Revolt of 1857 was majorly due to policies underlined below:
  • Inland Emigration Act of 1859:

Under this enactment, the tea planters weren’t allowed to leave the respective tea gardens without official permission. This caused extreme discontent and displeasure among planters when the exploitative system suppressed them atrociously and disallowed them such permissions constantly. 

  • British Titles Act, 1877:

In 1877, Grand Imperial Darbar was luxuriously decorated in Delhi to declare Queen Victoria as the Empress of India. Lots of money was financed for the decoration and celebration of the palace when a severe famine ravaged South India. This cold-blooded and insensitive attitude of Britishers fanned the fire of emerging nationalism in India.

  • Reduction of age-limit for Indian Civil Service Examination, 1877:

Under this provision, the age-limit for aspirants of Indian Civil Services examination was reduced from 21 to 19, thereby hardening the competition for Indians. 

  • Indian Arms Act, 1878: 

Enacted under the viceroyalty of Lord Lytton, Indian Arms Act prohibited Indians to possess weapons without an adequate license excluding Anglo-Indians and Europeans. National leaders like Surendranath Banerjee assumed it as a symbol of racial inferiority‘ imposed by the British administration. 

  • Vernacular Press Act, 1878:

Introduced by Lord Lytton, Vernacular Press Act intended to restrict the press for conveying criticism of British government and their policies ( especially due to resistance grew up because of Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878). The act entrusted the government to seize the properties and assets of the newspaper printing press in case of violation of the law.

  • Revocation of Import Duties on British Textiles:

Under viceroyalty of Lord Lytton, a provision was introduced revoking the import duties on British textiles to minimize the wealth influx in India. Consequently, it led to the excruciating deterioration of Indian Textile Industries.

  • Indian Salt Act, 1882:

Passed by British Legislative Government, Indian Salt Act authenticated government’s monopoly on collection and manufacture of salt. It rejected Indians to produce salts at their homes which was an important ingredient of their food. They were compelled to pay heavy taxes for buying salts from company depots. 

  • Ilbert Bill, 1883:

Validated by Viceroy Ripon, Ilbert Bill permitted Indian judges and magistrates the jurisdiction to try British officers in criminal prosecutions at the district level. But Britishers were infuriated when the law was introduced and it suffered vast controversy in Britain. Later, some provisions were amended and the bill was re-introduced as the Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Act on 25 January 1884. It came into force on 1 May 1884.


Aftermath Revolt of 1857, these repressive acts and strategies of British administration created gigantic waves of hostility against colonial policies in India and the resentment originating from these policies cumulatively resulted in the spontaneous rise of nationalism in India that was manifested in the foundation of numerous nation-wide anti-British organizations. The propaganda of these organisations was to coordinate and integrate the nationals for the eradication of the British regime from India. ( Simultaneously, the socio-religious movements were going on that were the representation of evolving Indian intelligentsia.) Prominent such political associations and their portfolios are noted as follows:
A New Era Of Political Consciousness and National Awakeing Aftermath Revolt of 1857

Statue of Mahadev Govind Ranade- Chief Founder of Poona Sarvajanik Sabha

  • Poona Sarvajanik Sabha:

Founded by a distinguished lawyer Mahadev Govind Ranade along with Ganesh Vasudeo Joshi, S.H Chiplunkar and Bhawanrao Shrinivasrao Pant Pratinidhi on 2 April 1870, Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was a 95 membered sociopolitical association that acted as conciliate body between the British government and the citizens of India. This Sabha disagreed with colonial forest laws and repression of vernacular press. It demanded the reduction of salt taxes. Realizing the significance of political and economic reforms, this association stimulated nationalism amongst people and created chief revolutionary figures like B.G Tilak and Gopal Hari Deshmukh for Indian Struggle for Independence.

  • Indian League:

Started by accomplished Indian journalist Sisir Kumar Ghosh along with Sambhu Charan Mukherjee in Calcutta on 25 September 1875, Indian League was a representative body of educated middle-class and aimed to encourage political education for arousing the inherent nationalism amongst people. It organized vehement protests against political regulations like Calcutta Municipal Bill, Mofussil Municipality Bill and Presidency bill etc. 

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Surendranath Banerjee- Chief Founder of Indian Association 
  • The Indian Association

The pragmatic nationalist political Indian Association was organized by Surendranath Banerjee and Anandmohan Bose on 26 September 1876 for fostering political unity and nationalist ideas amongst people. It stressed the government for Indianisation of higher administrative positions, exemption of duties on cotton goods and reduction of salt taxes. Furthermore, it also launched broader campaigns against repressive colonial acts like the Vernacular Press Act and the Indian Arms Act to express opposition and it simultaneously worked for the elimination of racial antagonism.

  • Madras Mahajan Sabha

Initiated by S. Ramaswami Mudaliar, P. Rangaiah Naidu and P. Anandcharlu in May 1884, Madras Mahajan Sabha was an Indian political association that promoted indigenous goods. It executed numerous exhibitions like- All India Khadi Exhibition and Swadeshi Exhibition for inciting super-patriotic emotions in the hearts of Indians.

  • Bombay Presidency Association:

Petrified with several reactionary policies of Viceroy Lord Lytton, Bombay Presidency Association was founded by Pherozshah Mehta, KT Telang and Badruddin Tayabji. It sharply criticized the dominating policies of Lord Lytton like Vernacular Press Act because the leaders considered it as an explicit attempt to diminish the freedom of speech and expression.

Initiated by A.O Hume, Dadabhai Narouji, Surendranath Banerjee, Pherozshah Mehta, W.C Banerjee, M.G Ranade and many others on 28 December 1885, Indian National Congress is a political organisation that systematized the national movement against the colonial regime. Tending to remain moderate, INC requested the government for Indianisation of higher administrative positions for minimizing wealth efflux of India,  repeal of Arms Act, separation of judiciary and executive, reduction of revenue and additional funds for irrigation. It actively participated in numerous nationwide movements like the Non-Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience Movement to criticize the colonial administration. Not only this, it simultaneously promoted swadeshi goods for the revival of Indian industries and handicrafts.

Nationalism in India
Members of Indian National Congress

These organizations continuously acted for enkindling the patriotic and nationalist emotions in Indians and the establishment of the Indian National Congress was the historical indication of the upsurging nationwide systematic struggle of people against the colonizers and imperialism in India. Parallel to the formation of these nationalist political associations, several socio-religious movements like Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, Satyashodak Samaj etc. was launched during this era that manifested the evolution of Indian intelligentsia.

The conclusion of this article could be summarized through a famous scientific law i.e. Newton’s third law of motion that states ” For every action, there is an equal and an opposite reaction.” The excruciating colonial actions of physical subjugation, racial antagonism, hostility and oppression altogether connected Indians in the thread of nationalist ideas as a reaction. The dissatisfaction originating from colonial policies aftermath Revolt of 1857 led to the spontaneous growth of nationalism in India and the foundation of the Indian National Congress that collected the scattered efforts of emerging sociopolitical organisations and organized them against colonialism…

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