Through the years, resentment against British
rule grew, especially in the north. Land taxes imposed by the British caused many difficulties for farmers. Large numbers of people went hungry. British land reforms took away land from many Indian
people. In addition, many Indians resented what they regarded as a growing British interference in Indian customs and religion. In 1857,
the Indian people rebelled.
The rebellion, sometimes called the Sepoy Rebellion or Sepoy Mutiny, began at an army base in Meerut, near Delhi. There, Indian soldiers called sepoys revolted after British officers instructed them to
bite open rifle cartridges believed to have been greased with cow and hog fat. Both Hindus and Muslims objected to the order. The religious beliefs of the Hindu sepoys forbade them to eat beef, and the
Muslim sepoys could not eat pork. The Indian Rebellion quickly spread from Meerut to the rest of northern and central India. However, the rebels were poorly organized, had few weapons, and lacked good leadership. By 1859, they had been defeated. Although the rebellion had failed, the British had faced a serious threat to their rule.
British India. In 1858, the British government decided to govern India directly. This direct rule is often called the British Raj. Raj means rule or administration. Parliament took control of the East
India Company's Indian possessions, which became known as British India. In most other parts of India, called the princely, or native, states, the British governed indirectly, through local rulers. A few small areas of coastal land remained French or Portuguese colonies
until the mid-1900's.
The British monarch appointed an official called a
viceroy to govern British India. An executive council
of five members--all British and all appointed by the
monarch--helped the viceroy. The viceroy appointed
from 6 to 12 additional members, who met together
with the executive council to form a legislative council.
A few Indians could serve on the legislative council.
British India was divided into several provinces. An appointed governor or lieutenant governor headed each province. The provinces also had their own executive council and legislative council.
Britain placed a representative, called a resident, in each princely state. The resident advised the local prince about political and economic matters. The local prince had no power to make laws relating to foreign affairs, defense, relations with other princely states, and certain other matters. In internal affairs, however, the local prince generally had complete authority.
In 1876, Queen Victoria of Britain was given the title Empress of India by the British Parliament. Although the British did not further expand their territory within India, they were involved in several wars in which they used Indian troops. Indian troops serving under British officers fought the Second Afghan War (1878-1881). This war helped establish India's boundary with Afghanistan. British India defeated the Burmese in the Third Burmese War (1885). Burma
(now Myanmar) then became a province of India. It remained a partof India until 1937.
In the second half of the 1800's, the British built railroad, telephone, and telegraph systems in India. They also established universities. Although the British enlarged the Indian irrigation system, agricultural
production improved only slightly. Poverty levels remained high. The British spent little money on elementary education and did little to promote industrialization.
Times | The Aryans |
| Invasions by the Persians and the greek | The golden Age | Southern India |
| Period of Invasions | The Mughal Empire | The Europeans |
| East India Company | Indian Rebellion | Rise of Indian Nationalism |
| The Constitution | World War II | Independence and Partition |
| Mahatma Gandhi | Recent Developments |