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Unit 3
Impact of the Revolt

Learning Outcomes

Upon the completion of this unit, the learner will be able to :

  • explain the real consequences after the revolt of 1857.
  • analyse the fate of the East India Company after the first war of independence in India.
  • identify the transformative changes that occurred from 1858 onwards.
  • give a glimpse about the rule of India under the British Crown and the changes that occurred from then on.


Revolutions and rebellions have a major role in bringing about drastic changes in the existing system. It does have the capacity to overthrow any authoritarian regime in no time. However, its consequences differ based on the demands and needs of the rebels or the opposing group. It often attains a mass character in almost all cases as we have seen in many places, mostly in Asia and Africa.In these places unrests among the masses created a kind of anti-authoritarian feeling, leading them to come in direct conflict with the ruling authority.The results thus achieved were either in terms of treaties partially approving their demands or it resulted in the complete usurping of the ruling power. In the case of India, it resulted in the direct and indirect impact upon the people of the then society.

As we all know the British ruled over India as their colony for more than three centuries. In the initial stages it was monitored by the English East India Company and later by the British Crown itself. It won’t be wrong to say that a systematic and uniform form of administration came into being from 1858 onwards when it eventually came under the control of British rule officially. Many changes that we see even now as the remnants of British rule are actually the net result of their rule here. They made some drastic changes in the administration as well as in the way in which India must be ruled. Likewise, we could also see the way in which Indian society underwent drastic transformations ever since the revolt of 1857. In short, it paved the way for the future united struggles against British rule in India.

The impact of revolt was also remarkable with respect to all sections of the then society whether it, be social, economic or political.India came under the direct control of the British Royal family and the the English East India Company was disbanded. Necessary changes were made in the Council and other aspects which posed real issues during the time of the English East India Company. Even though, these changes seemed to be somewhat welcoming, they proved to be otherwise in the long run, as they came in direct conflict with the interest of the native population of India. Further details regarding this will be disclosed in this particular unit.

Key Words

Legacy, Revolt, Administrative Changes, Native Responses

The Revolt of 1857 was the first indication that Indians were prepared to unite behind the revolter to put an end to the British rule. Despite failing to accomplish their goal, they were successful in spreading the seeds of nationalism among the Indians. The Indians grew more conscious of the heroes who gave their lives during the Revolt. In contrast, it marked the start of the mistrust between Hindus and Muslims, which the British eventually sought upon to maintain their dominance in India.

3.3.1 The Legacy Of The Revolt

The Revolt of 1857 is unique in a sense that cut across caste, community and class barriers. Indian people for the first time put up a unified challenge to the British rule. Though the efforts of the rebels failed, the British government was pressured to change their policy towards India. In August 1858, by the Act for the Better Government of India, both the Board of Control and the Board of Directors were abolished. The office of the Secretary of State for India was created with an Indian Council of 15 members to assist the Viceroy of India, designation earlier known as Governor General in India. In August 1858 the British crown assumed control of India from the East India Company and in 1877 Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India. This brought to an end the rule of the East India Company. In the proclamation of 1st November 1858 the Queen announced a continuation of the Company’s policies. India became a colony of the British Empire. The Indian rulers were assured of their rights to succession after adoption. The crown promised to honor all the treaties and the agreements made by the company with the rulers of Indian States. By now the British had become distrustful of the Hindu-Muslim unity. They decided to follow the policy of divide and rule. They kept a tight control over key positions both in the civil and military administration. To give expression to this pledge the Indian Civil Service Act of 1861 was passed, which provided for an annual competitive examination to be held in London for recruitment to the coveted Civil Service.

The revolt played a pivotal role in Anglo- Indian history. The British became cautious and defensive about their empire, while many Indians remained bitter and would never trust their rulers again. It was not until the emergence of Indian National Congress in 1885 and Mahatma Gandhi that Indians gathered their momentum for home rule. One group which kept away from trouble and opposition to the British was the English-educated Indians. This group owed its rise to the conditions of the new rule. Some of its members were descendants of the new Bengali zamindars, a class created by the Permanent Settlement in Bengal. It is curious to note that some members of this elite group would turn against the British some thirty or forty years after the 1857 Revolt. The Army had been mainly responsible for the crisis of 1857. Hence, radical changes were introduced to the army. The strength of European troops in India was increased and the number of Indian troops reduced from the pre- 1857 figure. All Indian artillery units with the exception of a few mountain batteries were disbanded, even the artillery was kept with the British soldiers. On the other hand, there were attempts to play natives against natives on the basis of caste, religion and region. All the big posts in the army and the artillery departments were reserved for the Europeans. There was mutual distrust and fear between Indians and the British. It was increasingly realised that one basic cause for the Revolt of 1857 was the lack of contact between the ruler and the ruled. Thus, a humble beginning towards the development of representative institutions in India was made by the Indian Councils Act of 1861. The emotional after effects of the Revolt were perhaps the most unfortunate. Racial bitterness was perhaps the worst legacy of the struggle.

Oppression and exploitation of the people were the main reasons for the rebellion and resistance to British rule in India. Being evicted from their lands, peasants and tribals became labourers on their own lands. Different forms of taxes made their life miserable. Those who were engaged in small cottage industries had to close their factories as a result of the import of British manufactured goods. All these changes and unresponsive attitude of the British administration compelled the peasantry to vent their grievances through rebellions. Unfortunately these rebellions were not successful before the organised British armed forces but they paved the way for future challenges to the British Raj in India. The Revolt of 1857 was a big challenge to British authority. It was led by the sepoys and supported by the common people. Economic, political, social, religious and military causes were responsible for the Revolt of 1857. The greased cartridges incident was the immediate cause of the revolt. A large part of India was affected by the revolt.


  • The main consequence or impact of the revolt of 1857 was the transfer of power to the Royal British Crown from the British East India Company.
  • It exposed the inefficiency of the English East India Company in handling administration of India.
  • Council of India Act, 1958 was issued which ushered in an array of changes as foreseen by the British empire.
  • Viceroys began to govern over India as the representative of the British royal family.
  • The Board of Control was abolished.
  • A new system in ministry better known as India House and a Secretary of State appointed to ensure better administration in India
  • Hindu-Muslim unity could be considered one among the major impacts of the revolt.
  • A sense of mass mobilisation towards the goals of nationalism and freedom from British rule was achieved successfully.
  • Individual uprisings and martyrdoms highly inspired future struggles against such oppressive ruling patterns.

Objective type questions

  1. What is considered the direct impact of the revolt of 1857?
  2. What was the main reason for the revolt?
  3. Mention the name given to the revolt of 1857 by the British?
  4. Who called the revolt of 1857 as “The First War of Independence”?
  5. Name the Councils Act issued after the revolt?
  6. Who was the ruler of Britain in 1858 when the power got transferred from the English East India Company to the British Crown?
  7. What was the name of the proclamation issued from Britain in the year 1858 per-taining to Indian administration?
  8. Name the council that got abolished immediately after the transfer of power to the British royal family?
  9. What was the change that took place in the army soon after the transfer of power after the revolt?
  10. Which was the administrative body that took office after abolishing the Board of Control?

Answer to Objective type questions

  1. Transfer of power from English East India Company to the British Royal Crown.
  2. Oppressive,exploitative and corrupted rule of the British
  3. Sepoy Mutiny
  4. Veer Savarkar
  5. Indian Councils Act
  6. Queen Victoria.
  7. Queen Victoria’s Proclamation
  8. Board of Control.
  9. Artillery and the number of troops were considerably reduced.
  10. India House.


  1. Write a report on the influence of British administration under the Royal Crown in Indian democratic apparatus.
  2. The remarkable changes happened in India under the control of the Queen as compared to the period governed by the British East India Company.
  3. Bring out the characteristic features of the administrative changes initiated by theBritish soon after the revolt.
  4. Discuss the global impact of the revolt of 1857 with vivid illustrations.

Suggested Reading

  1. Bipan Chandra, India’s Struggle For Independence, Penguin Random Book
  2. House, 2015.
  3. Chrisopher Hibbert, The Great Mutiny : 2, Viking Adult Publishers, 1978.
  4. Eugene D’Souza, History of Modern India, Manan Prakashan, 2016.
  5. G.B.Malleson, The Indian Mutiny of 1857, Rupa & Co.,2016.
  6. Grover B.L., Grover S., A New Look at Modern Indian History, S. Chand and Company, New Delhi, 2001.
  7. Kundra & Bawa, History of India, Neelam Publishers, Delhi, 1995.
  8. Sumit Sarkar,Modern India : 1885 – 1947,Pearson Publishers,2008.
  9. Surendra Nath Sen, Eighteen Fifty Seven,Publication Division,2021.