Moreover, since their relatives had now to pay more taxes on land , it adversely affected the purses of the sepoys themselves. The Alien Rule Another important reason of the unpopularity of the British was the alien nature of their rule. They never mixed with the Indian people and treated even the upper class Indians with contempt. They had not come to settle in India but only to take money home. So the Indians could never develop any affinity towards them. Impact on the Sepoys The revolt of 1857 originated with the mutiny of the Sepoys. These Sepoys were drawn mainly from the peasant population of North and North-West India. As we have seen, the rapacious policies followed by
5 the East India Company were impoverishing and ruining the peasantry. This must have affected the Sepoys also. In fact, most of them had joined the military services in order to supplement their fast declining agricultural income. But as the Years passed, they realised that their capacity for doing so declined. They were paid a monthly salary of 7 to 9 Rupees out of which they had to pay for their food, uniform and transport of their private baggage. The cost of maintaining an Indian Sepoy was only one –third of his British counterpart I India. Moreover, the Indian Sepoy was treated roughly by the British counterpart in India. Moreover, the Indian Sepoy was treated roughly by the British officers. They were frequently abused and humiliated. The Indian Sepoy, despite his valour and great fighting capacity, could never rise above the rank of a Subedarwhile a fresh recruit from England was often appointed his superior overnight. Threat to Religion Apart from degrading service conditions, another factor inflamed the feeling of the sepoys. An impression was created among them that their religion was being attacked by the British. This belief was also shared by the general civilian population. The proselytizing zeal of the missionaries and some of the British official instilled fear in the minds of the people that their religion was in danger. At several places conversions to Christianity were reported to be made. The Government maintained the Chaplains at its own cost and in some cases also provided police protection to the missionaries. Even the army maintained chaplains at state cost and Christian propaganda was carried among the sepoys. Furthermore, the sepoys were forbidden to wear their caste marks, and in 1856 and Act was passed under which every new recruit had to give an undertaking to serve overseas, if required. The
6 conservative beliefs of the sepoys were thus shaken and they sometimes reacted strongly. For example I 1824, the 47thRegiment of sepoys at Barrackpore refused to go to Burma by sea-route because their religion forbade them to cross “black water”. The British reacted ruthlessly, disbanded the Regiment, and put some of its leaders to death.