Q. Examine the democratic sentiments of the mutineers of 1857.
Answer: Following are the Democratic Sentiments of the Mutineers:
- Democratic Institutions-
a) In Bengal, Bengal Army sepoys formed representative bodies; they chose to call them councils and elected their peers.
b) In Delhi, they acknowledge the titular emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, but actually constituted a “Court of Administration” consisting the representatives of different rebel contingents to administer Delhi.
c) In Lucknow too sepoys insisted on constituting a similarly representative court or council.
Thus, the Bengal army sepoys not only had a concept of modern organization, but also put stress on the important question of representation by election.
- Patriotic Sentiment in the form of Hindu-Muslim unity
A patriotic color was sought to be given to the slogan of religion. An argument put forth by the rebels was that Hindus and Muslims were monotheists while Christians believed in the trinity. Thus, Muslims and Hindus had common religious values, which they did not share with the English. But beyond this was the idea that both Hindus and Muslims were loyal to India and the English were people of a different race who insulted and exploited Indians.
One can indeed gauge the kind of notions prevalent among the rebels from news papers that were issued during the four months of the rebel regime at Delhi.
- Use of a language comprehensible to the mass
The proclamations were generally in spoken Hindustani. For example, the initial proclamation of Prince Birjis Qadr in July 1875 is a printed one that has Urdu script on the right and Nagari on the left. The texts are nearly identical in both columns, but the Urdu one has very few Persian words and the Nagari has an obliviously to use a language comprehensible to the common people.
Though at that time democratic developments in India were in dormant stage but still the representative bodies they formed were worth prize.