Changed Nature of Peasant Movements After 1857
The peasant movements which emerged after 1857 were different from the ones before in many important ways
- Peasants had become the main force in agrarian movements and themselves took up the leadership in fighting for their demands.
- The demands of these peasant movements were mostly focussed on economic issues. They were struggles directed against specific grievances and had limited objectives. They got dissipated after these grievances got redressed. E.g., Indigo Revolt, Deccan Riots etc.
- They were mainly directed against their immediate enemies viz., the foreign planters, zamindars, and moneylenders.
- However, these movements were not directed against the colonial rule as such. Colonialism was not among their targets. It was also not an objective of these movements to end the system of exploitation and subordination of the peasantry.
- Nevertheless, the peasants had developed a sense of awareness of their legal rights which enabled them to strongly assert their rights, both within and outside the courts.
- Soon, the peasant movements got integrated with the national movement due to the rise of socialist ideas and leaders. The formation of All India Kisan Sabha was a high point in the course of peasant movements as it firmly linked the peasants' issues with the anti-colonial national movement which was emerging in the country.
Though the peasant movements represented an important aspect of popular resistance against the colonial rule in India, they had many weaknesses too such as:
- These movements lacked a proper understanding of the colonial rule. They mostly directed against their immediate grievances rather than being a struggle against the colonial rule as such.
- The territorial reach of these movements was also limited. They were mostly regional movements, which were focussed on the region's specific issues. Also, there was no continuity in the movements, nor was there any long-term organization which could organize a sustained agitation.
- The peasantry of the 19th century did not possess any new ideology or a new social, political, and economic programme for their movements. Although some of these movements were militant in nature, they occurred within the framework of an old social order. They were lacking in a modern, alternative view of the society.