Bangalore International Centre had arranged a Talk on “1857 – What really happened?” by Mr. V Balasubramanian, IAS (Retd), Chairman, International Sericulture Alliance, on Friday, 24th June, 2011 at 6:30 pm. The talk was moderated by Prof. S Settar, well-known Historian and Visiting Professor, School of Humanities, NIAS, Bangalore.
Mr. Balasubramanian, through a PowerPoint presentation, chronicled the series of events from the Battle of Palashi (1757) to the conflagration of 1857 to highlight the fact that resentment against the duplicity and greed of British East Indian Company was simmering for some time past. The controversy over the tainted “greased” cartridges” only provided the flash point. At the same time, it was by no stretch of imagination the “First War of Indian Independence”. The uprising remained confined to certain parts of northern and eastern India, and there again the leaders like Nana Sahib, Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi etc were fighting basically for the restoration of their earlier privileges permitted by the East Indian Company. Bahadur Shah Zafar was more or less compelled by the sepoys to join them; in any case, he did not lead the uprising. Atrocities were committed by both the sides, and possible the British atrocities were more. Women and children were the innocent victims on both the sides. Mr. Balasubramanian also highlighted the irony of British East Indian Company trying and convicting the last Mughal Emperor for treason, even though in law the Company was in fact only an Agent of the Emperor for collecting land revenue in certain parts of India. This was perhaps a unique case of trial of a Principal by his Agent! Prof. S. Settar in his erudite observations supported the observations of Mr. Balasubramanian.
It was a well-attended event, interspersed with active participation from the audience.