Peasant Movements - The Uprising of Peasants in 18th & 19th Century

Peasant Movements are a part of social movements against British atrocities in the 18th and 19th centuries of the British Colonial Period. These movements had the sole purpose of restoring the earlier forms of rule and social relations. The peasant movements are an important part of modern Indian History which forms a significant subject of IAS Exam. UPSC has asked nearly 6-7 questions from the freedom struggle portion.

This article will detail about Peasant movements in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries to enhance your preparation for UPSC History that comes in both Prelims and Mains GS-I papers.

The candidates can read more relevant information from the links provided below:

Tribal Uprisings in 18th & 19th Century Politico-Religious Movements of 18th & 19th Century
NCERT Notes: Popular Uprisings against British by Deposed Chieftains and Landlords Land Revenue Systems In British India

What caused the peasants revolt?

There were various reasons related to agrarian restructuring for peasants to revolt. The reasons are given below:

  • Peasants were evicted from their lands
  • The rent that the peasants had to pay for their lands was increased
  • Atrocities by the Moneylenders
  • Peasants’ traditional handicrafts were ruined
  • The ownership of land was taken away from peasants during Zamindari rule
  • Massive Debt
  • Colonial Economic Policies
  • Land Revenue System was not favouring the peasants (Read about the different land revenue systems in the linked article.)

List of Early Peasants Revolt

The list of Peasants Revolt is given in the table below:

Peasant Movement Details
Indigo Revolt (1859-60)
  • Indigo was recognized as a chief cash crop for the East India Company’s investments.
  • It is also known as ‘Nil Bidroho’
  • All categories of the rural population, missionaries, the Bengal intelligentsia and Muslims.
  • This indigo revolt gave birth to a political movement and stimulated national sentiment against the British rulers among Indian masses.

Read more about Indigo Rebellion in the linked article.

Rangpur Dhing (1783)
  • Rangpur uprising took place in Bengal
  • It is called the first tough peasant rebellion against the rule of the East India Company.
  • It evidently uncovered the evils like Ijaradari scheme related to the system of colonial exploitation.
  • It paved the way for formulating a land settlement that would be permanent in nature
  • The rebellion spread over a significant area, including Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Palamau and Manbhum.
  • After two years of strong confrontation, they lost to modern weapons of the British.

Read more about Rangpur Dhing in the linked article.

Kol Rebellion (1832)
  • The Kols and other tribes enjoyed independence underneath their chiefs but the British entry threatened their independence.
  • The handover of tribal lands and the encroachment of moneylenders, merchants and British laws generated a lot of pressure.
  • The Kol tribal planned an insurgency in 1831-32 which was engaged primarily against Government officers and private money-lenders.
Mappila Rebellion in Malabar (1841-1920)
  • Mappila uprising was sequences of rebellions by the Mappila Muslims of Malabar region of Kerala.
  • The main causes were, increase in land tax, the security of tenure and exploitation of the poor peasantry by the landlords.
  • The revolt goes fell into the trap of Hindu-Muslim riot.
  • During this period there was Khilafat movement was raised for the fulfilment of freedom for Muslims.
  • The 1921 uprising was a manifestation of long-lasting agrarian dissatisfaction, which was only strengthened by the religious and ethnic uniqueness and by their political alienation.

Read about Moplah Rebellion in the linked article.

Santhal Rebellion (1855)
  • It was a native rebellion in present-day Jharkhand against both the British colonial authority and zamindari system by the Santhal people
  • It was planned by four Murmu brothers -Sidhu, Kahnu, Chand and Bhairav
  • The rebellion was suppressed thoroughly and largely shadowed by that of the other rebellions.

Read more about Santhal Uprising in the linked article.

Deccan Uprising (1875)
  • Along with the Permanent Settlement, the British extended their presence beyond Bengal.
  • Ryotwari Settlement was the revenue system that was introduced in the Bombay Deccan region
  • The revolt started in Poona and henceforth it spread to Ahmednagar.
  • This uprising also involved a social boycott of the moneylender.

Read about Deccan Riots in the linked article.

Munda Ulgulan (1899- 1900)
  • Birsa Munda-led this movement in the region south of Ranchi
  • The Mundas conventionally enjoyed a special rent rate as the original clearer (Khuntkatti) of the forest. But this was eroded by the jagirdars and thikadars arrived as traders and moneylenders.
  • As a result of this rebellion, the government enacted the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908, recognized Khuntkatti rights, banned Beth Begari (forced labour)
Narkelberia Uprising (1782-1831)
  • Led by Titu Mir/ Mir Nithar Ali
  • In West Bengal
  • against landlords, mainly Hindu, who imposed a beard-tax on the Faraizis, and British indigo planters
  • merged into the Wahabi movement
The Pagal Panthis
  • Led by Karam Shah
  • To fight the oppression of the zamindars.
Faraizi Revolt
  • Led by Shariat-Allah and his son Dadu Mian
  • to expel the English intruders from Bengal
Tebhaga Movement (1946–47)
  • The Tebhaga movement was manifested in the undivided Bengal in the mid-1940s.
  • This movement centers around a demand for tebhaga (two-third shares) by sharecroppers of their produce for themselves, instead of one-half traditionally given to them by the jotedars—a class of intermediary landowners.
  • The colonial rulers used all possible repressive measures to crash this movement by introducing a reign of terror in the rural areas.
Telangana Movement (1946-52)
  • The Telangana Movement (1946-52) of Andhra Pradesh was fought against the feudal oppression of the rulers and local landowners.
  • The agrarian social structure of Hyderabad emerged to be very oppressive in the 1920s and thereafter.
  • In rural Telangana’s political economy, the jagirdars and deshmukhs, locally known as dora, played a dominant role.

Impact of Peasant Movements

The impact of peasant movements in India are discussed briefly below:

  • Though these revolts were not aimed at uprooting the British rule from India, they created awareness among the Indians.
  • The peasants developed a strong awareness of their legal rights and asserted them in and outside the courts.
  • Peasants emerged as the main force in agrarian movements, fighting directly for their own demands.
  • Various Kisan Sabhas were formed to organise and agitate for peasant’s demands during Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • These movements eroded the power of the landed class, thus adding to the transformation of the agrarian structure.
  • Peasants felt a need to organise and fight against exploitation and oppression.
  • These rebellious movements prepared the ground for various other uprisings across the country.

Peasant Revolts – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Related Links:

Modern History NCERT Notes UPSC Mains GS-I Strategy, Structure & Syllabus
IAS History Questions Success Rate for Optional Subjects in UPSC
Top 5 Magazines for UPSC Daily Video Analysis: The Hindu
IAS Toppers UPSC 2023
Topic-Wise GS 1 Questions of UPSC Mains History Syllabus for UPSC Prelims


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