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History

Since independence

Religions

Caste System

Languages

Politics

The creation of Indian identity

The unorganized stage of Indian nationalism

The building of the Indian identity actually began as a social reform movement with an intention to change the traditional Hindu/Indian society.

In 1828, a man named Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) founded an organization called 'Brahmo Samaj'. Indian historians consider this organization forerunner which paved the way for reformation in India and its establisher as the 'father of modern India'. Raja Ram and his organization 'Brahmo Samaj' tried to change the social order of India. But during that period there wasn't yet an Indian ethos among the Indians. Indians were never one nation but always a collection of different entities. They were used to different rulers including non- Indians. From their point of view the British were just another ruler over them. But the main contribution of the Brahmo Samaj to the society of India was that it evoked issues that were common to people all around the Indian sub-continent.

After Brahmo Samaj other organizations were established in India and they used the word India or Indian in the name of their organizations. These organizations had different aims like representing the people of India to the British. But the people of India still did not have a general sense and identity of themselves as Indians. This nationalist feeling got a strong boost in 1857 when what is known as 'Indian Mutiny' or 'Mutiny' that took place. This mutiny was against the then ruling power, which ruled over most of India, 'The East India Company'.

The East India Company was actually a trading company and it received from the British crown charter to trade with the Indian sub-continent. They arrived in India for spice trade in 1600. Like other European powers that arrived in India, they at first requested from the local rulers permission to trade in their entities. Later on they requested from the local rulers permission to build factories. After they built factories they requested to build forts around these factories to defend them from pirates and other dangers. Then they requested to recruit local Indians to serve as guards and soldiers in these forts and so on they slowly created their own armies. The army of the East India Company was called 'The Honorary Company Forces'. Its soldiers were Indians but its officers were British. The East India Company was more sophisticated than other Europeans who arrived in India. This company offered different sophisticated agreements to the different Indian ruling families, which made them the actual managers of the Indian kingdoms. They sometimes used their army against local rulers and annexed their territories with the result that there was lot of embitterment among the Indians against the British.

Most of the Indian soldiers were either Hindus or Muslims. For Hindus, cow is a sacred animal not to be slaughter and for Muslims pig is a defiled animal. In 1857 a rumor was passed through among the Indian soldiers in the British army that the bullets were greased with cow and pig fats. Pursuant to this rumor a mutiny erupted among the Indian soldiers in the Company forces. Also with this mutiny in the Company forces, erupted a general uprising among the people of the Indian sub-continent against the Company.

Not all of the Indian battalions in the Company forces took part in the mutiny and this mutiny took place mainly in north India. The mutiny failed to achieve its goals because of different reasons. The main reasons were different aims of the different parties who took part in the mutiny and also these parties were not coordinated. But even so this mutiny is considered by many historians as the first war of independence the Indians had against the British. After this mutiny a common feeling of an occupied nation by a foreign power developed among the Indians all over the Indian sub-continent. Many new Indian organizations were established in India. The main political centers of these organizations were Calcutta in East India and Bombay in West India.

Continue to The main stage


Aharon Daniel

1999-2000

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