from the city had little or no interest in the land. They did not investmoney in seeds or fertilizers to improve the fertility of the land but only cared to collectas much revenue as they could. This proved destructive for the peasants whoremained backward and stagnant.To get out of this situation, the peasants now started producing commercial cropslike indigo, sugarcane, jute, cotton, opium and so on. This was the beginning ofcommercialisation of agriculture. The peasants now depended on merchants, tradersand middlemen to sell their produce during harvest time. As they shifted to commercialcrops, food grain production went down. Less food stocks led to famines. It wastherefore not surprising that the hungry peasants revolted. Lets us read more aboutsome peasants revolts which took place on account of the British policies:(i)The Faqir and Sanyasi Rebellions (1770–1820s): The establishment ofBritish control over Bengal after 1757 led to increase in land revenue and theexploitation of the peasants. The Bengal famine of 1770 led peasants whoselands were confiscated, displaced zamindars, disbanded soldiers and poor tocome together in a rebellion. They were joined by the Sanyasis and Fakirs.The Faqirs were a group of wandering Muslim religious mendicants in Bengal.Two famous Hindu leaders who supported them were Bhawani Pathak and awoman, Devi Choudhurani. They attacked English factories and seized theirgoods, cash, arms and ammunition. Maznoom Shah was one of their prominentleaders. They were finally brought under control by the British at the beginningof the 19thcentury.The Sanyasi Uprisings took place in Bengal between the periods of 1770-1820s. The Sanyasis rose in rebellion after the great famine of 1770 in Bengalwhich caused acute chaos and misery. However, the immediate cause of therebellion was the restrictions imposed by the British upon pilgrims visiting holyplaces among both Hindus and Muslims.(ii)The Indigo Rebellion (1859-1862): The British adopted many ways throughwhich they could increase their profits. They also started interfering with thebasic means of livelihood of the people. Not only did they introduce new crops,they also brought new techniques of farming. Heavy pressure was put on thezamindarsand peasants to pay high taxes and grow commercial crops. Onesuch commercial crop was Indigo. The cultivation of indigo was determined
MODULE - 1India and the Worldthrough Ages149Popular Resistance to the British RuleSOCIAL SCIENCENotesby the needs of the English cloth markets. The discontent of the farmers growingindigo was mainly for three reasons:circle6They were paid very low prices for growing indigo;circle6Indigo was not lucrative as it was planted at the same time as food crops;circle6And loss of fertility of the soil because of planting indigo. Figure 7.2As a result, food stocks declined. The peasants suffered at the hands of thetraders and the middleman on whom they depended to sell their goods,sometimes at very low prices. They supported the zamindarsto maintain theirdominance and deal with their problems in administering those areas.