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Indigo Revolt In India (1856-57)

Indigo Revolt In India (1856-57)


  • Indigo, as the natural dye for textiles, emerged as one of the most important cash crops for british traders in late 18th & first half of 19th century.
  • The resultant greed of british planters who depended on plantations in bengal for their supplies and the complicity of the colonial state in the subsequent exploitation gave birth to the reasons behind indigo revolt.

Causes Of The Indigo Rebellion/Revolt

  • Indigo cultivation started in bengal in 1777.
  • Indigo was in high demand worldwide. Trade in indigo was lucrative due to the demand for blue dye in europe.
  • European planters enjoyed a monopoly over indigo and they forced indian farmers to grow indigo by signing fraudulent deals with them.
  • They were advanced loans for this purpose. Once the farmers took loans, they could never repay it due to the high rates of interest.
  • The cultivators were forced to grow indigo in place of food crops.
  • The farmers were brutally oppressed if they could not pay the rent or refused to do as asked by the planters.
  • The tax rates were also exorbitant.
  • They were forced to sell indigo at non-profitable rates so as to maximize the european planters’ profits.
  • The government always supported the planters who enjoyed many privileges and judicial immunities.
  • If a farmer refused to grow indigo and planted paddy instead, the planters resorted to illegal means to get the farmer to grow indigo such as looting and burning crops, kidnapping the farmer’s family members, etc.

Major events | Indigo Revolt In India (1856-57)

  • The revolt began from govindpur village in nadia district of bengal where biswas brothers gave up indigo cultivation.
  • This was followed by a struggle with the lathiyals and revolt spread in many parts of bengal. Strikes, legal actions, violence, social boycott of planters etc.
  • Were some of the tools used in the revolt. Peasant organization to some extent, hindu muslim unity, support from bengal intelligentsia made the revolt more effective. Finally, indigo commission was appointed which held the planters guilty, and criticized them for the coercive methods they used with indigo cultivators.
  • The company asked ryots to fulfill their existing contracts but also told them that they could refuse to produce indigo in future.
  • This was a big relief for the peasants and gradually the plantations of indigo came to an end in bengal.

Course Of Action  |Indigo Revolt In India (1856-57)

  • They asserted their rights to not grow indigo under duress and resisted the physical pressure of planters by their united and collective efforts.
  • The peasants refused to take advances (called dadon) which were offered at high interest rates by planters to coerce peasants into contracts.
  • As the resistance spread, indigo factories were attacked and aggressive defence was organized to meet the challenges of use of force by planters and the police.
  • Ryots also refused to pay rents to zamindars and physically resisted attempts to evict them.
  • Joint funds were raised to fight court cases and also to undertake legal action in courts.
  • The tactic of social boycott was used to force planters servants and helpers to leave them.

Reasons For Success Of The Revolt

  • The united resistance was very powerful and the planters were forced to shut down factories.
  • Mass and collective non-cooperation from the rebellious ryot, like refusal to pay enhanced revenue and mass social boycott.
  • Complete hindu muslim unity was one of the major factors.
  • The revolt had immense cooperation, organized and a disciplined effort.
  • The leadership was strong which were accompanied by well off ryots, moneylenders and ex-employees of planters
  • Missionaries extended active support to the revolt.
  • The bengal intelligentsia played an important role by organizing a powerful campaign in support by using press as the tool. It had a deep impact on the emerging nationalist intellectuals.



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