Fall of Colonial Empire in India – 4

The fall of British East Indian Company

The main reason for the fall of East India Company was due to the Battle of 1857. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 is also called the Indian Mutiny, the Sepoy Mutiny, or India’s First War of Independence. Most of the British press, outraged by the stories of rape and the killings of civilians and wounded British soldiers, did not advocate clemency of any kind. In terms of sheer numbers, the casualties were much higher on the Indian side. In 1877 Queen Victoria took the title of Empress of India on the advice of Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. The rebellion saw the end of the East India Company’s rule in India. There was rumour about an old prophecy that the Company’s rule would end after a hundred years. Their rule in India had begun with the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Also whether it was a rumour or a prophecy, East India Company did got dissolved after battle of 1857 after ruling India for 100 years. After the battle of 1857, British government started ruling India directly as one of the British colonies till India got her Independence in 1947.

How did the rule of the East India Company come to an end?

The East India Company was at its heights with it being the de-facto ruling body of the British Indian territories. On May 1857, the Indian mutiny broke out due to the enforcement of the Enfield rifle, in which the lubricated end was supposed to be bitten off to add gun powder. The problem was, the grease was made of cow and pig fat (one was sacred to Hindus the latter was an insult to Muslims who made most of the Indian ethnic British troops). The revolt lasted till June 1858. By then, lots of Indians had been massacred regardless of whether they mutinied or not.

The then head of the Company a Lord Canning managed to quell the thirst for revenge of the British earning him the name ‘Clemency Canning’. He blamed the revolt on the Christian evangelicals for upsetting the locals. The British due to the mutiny decided that India needed a far better ruling body, so two months before Lord Canning could declare the end of the mutiny, the British government stripped the Company of its responsibilities and passed it to the crown by the Government of India Act of 1858.