DISCUSS THE CHARACTER OF MAJOR TRIBAL UPRISINGS IN BRITISH INDIA IN THE 19TH CENTURY. (CSE 2003)
DISCUSS THE OUTSTANDING TRIBAL UPRISINGS AGAINST BRITISH RULE DURING THE 19TH CENTURY. (CSE 1994)
The tribal people organized the most militant outbursts and insurrections during the 19th century. The colonial administration ended their relative isolation and brought them fully under the ambit of colonialism. The main reasons for their resentment were as follows:
· The colonial administration recognized tribal chiefs as Zamindars and introduced a new system of land revenue and taxation of tribal product. It encouraged the influx of Christian missionaries (especially in Bengal and Assam) and thus created serious threat to the tribal religion and culture.
· It introduced a large number of outsider middleman (money-lenders, traders and revenue farmers) among the tribal. They increasingly took possession of tribal lands and trapped the tribal in debt-web and this brought the tribal people within the fold on the colonial economy and exploitation. The large scale influx of non-tribal region also created serious threat to the tribal identity.
· It tightened the control (restriction on shifting cultivation and attempts to curb the use timber and grazing facilities) of forest zones for revenue purpose ( from 1867 onwards) and this shattered the very basis of tribal economy. The oppression and extortion by policemen and other petty officials aggravated the tribal distress. The system of beggar (unpaid forced labour) was intensified and expanded.
The tribal people, who had depended on the forest for food, fuel and cattle-feed, and practiced shifting cultivation, witnessed the destruction of their livelihood and identity as they were brought into the ambit of colonialism. The colonial administration usurped forest lands and introduced the triumvirate of trader, moneylender and revenue farmer to exploit the tribals. The tribal uprisings were numerous, all marked by immense courage and sacrifice on their part and brutal suppression and veritable butchery on the part of the rulers.
Among the numerous tribal revolts, the Santhal hool or uprising was the most massive. The Santhals, who live in the area between Bhagalpur and Rajmahal, known as Daman-i-koh, called a meeting of 6000 Santhal representatives from 400 villages at Bhaganidihi on 30 June 1855. It was decided to mobilize the Santhals and throw out the dikus (outsiders) by force. Sixty thousand Santhals organized in bands of 1500 to 2000 participated in the insurrection. The colonial government responded by its own military mobilization under the command of a major-general. The rebellion which lasted as late as 1866 was crushed ruthlessly. More than 15,000 Santhals were killed while tens of villages were destroyed.
The Kols of Chhotanagpur rebelled from 1820 to 1837. Thousands of them were massacred before British authority could be re-imposed.
The tribal response included occasional violent outburst as well as movements for internal religion and socio-cultural reforms. The rebels took the form of spontaneous attacks on outsiders (Dikus) looting of their properly and expelling them from their villages. This ultimately resulted in clashes with colonial authority.
Often religious and charismatic leaders emerged at the stage and promised a divine intervention and end of all suffering and encouraged the fellow tribals to fight against the foreign authority. The movement of revitalization internal religious and social cultural reforms borrowed elements from Christianity or Hinduism and promised miraculous entry into golden age. The generally followed in the wake of defeated uprisings and murder of traditional chiefs.