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Tribals' Contribution to the Freedom Struggle of India- UPSC Current Affairs

Aug 20, 2022

Freedom Struggle of India

Expand your UPSC CSE knowledge base with our daily edition of Current Affairs. In today's edition we will talk about the Tribals' contribution to the Freedom Struggle of India.

Its relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus is listed below:

For Prelims: Tribal Revolts, Bhil, Kol, Santhal, Paika

For Mains: Tribal Revolts, Contribution of Tribals in Freedom Struggle

In case you missed reading our yesterday's edition of Current Affairs, you can read it here on National Intellectual Property Awareness Mission (NIPAM)

Probable Question

Write a brief note on the contribution of tribals in the freedom struggle of India.


The 15th President of India “Droupadi Murmu” is the first tribal President of India. She shared about the tribal revolutions that contributed to the freedom struggle of India.

Tribal Revolutions

Santhal Revolution

  • It is the landmark event in tribal history, referred to as Santhal Hul.
  • It took place in Bhognadih village in present-day Jharkhand on June 30, 1855.
  • It was led by Kanho Murmu, Chand Murmu, Bhairab Murmu, and Sidho Murmu, and over 10,000 Santhals were mobilized.
  • Causes:
    • The seeds of the rebellion were sown in 1832 when the East India Company created the Damin-i-Koh region in the forested belt of Rajmahal hills and invited the Santhals to settle there.
    • Over the years, Santhals found themselves at the receiving end of exploitative practices aided by the British.
    • Thus Santhals revolted against the East India Company over oppression by revenue officials, zamindars, and corrupt moneylenders and various British Laws.
    • After the rebellion broke out in 1855, both sides continued clashing till the uprising was crushed in 1856.
    • The British defeated the Santhals using modern firearms and war elephants in decisive action in which both Sidho and Kanho died.

Paika Rebellion

  • The 1817 Paika Rebellion in Odisha’s Khurda is referred to as the “original” first war of Indian Independence.
  • Causes:
    • It was mainly caused by being dispossessed of the land holdings.
    • The Paikas, a class of military retainers traditionally recruited by the kings of Odisha revolted against the British colonial rulers.
    • The British had dethroned and exiled the Khurda king in 1803 and then started introducing new revenue settlements.
    • For Paikas, who were into rendering martial services in return for hereditary rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) and titles, this disruption meant losing both their estates and social standing.
  • Revolution:
    • The trigger for the revolt came as some 400 Kondhs descended from the Ghumusar area to rise against the British.
    • Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bharamarbar Rai led an army of Paikas to join the uprising of the Kondhs.
    • The Paikas fought bloody battles at several places for a few months, but the colonial army gradually crushed the revolt.
    • Bakshi Jagabandhu escaped to the jungles and stayed out of reach of the British until 1825 when he finally surrendered under negotiated terms.

Kol Revolt

  • The Kols, tribal people from the Chhota Nagpur area, rose in revolt against the British in 1831.
  • Causes:
    • The trigger here too was the gradual takeover of tribal land and property by non-tribal settlers who were aided by new land laws.
    • The growing discontent over the economic exploitation of the original inhabitants led to an uprising
  • It was led by Buddhu Bhagat, Joa Bhagat, and Madara Mahato among others.
  • The Kols were joined by other tribes like the Hos, Mundas and Oraons.
  • The tribes fought with traditional weapons taking the battle to colonial forces who finally overpowered them with modern weaponry.
  • The uprising, which spread to areas like Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Palamau, and Manbhum and continued for almost two years before being snuffed out, mainly targeted colonial officials and private money-lenders.

Bhil Uprising

  • The revolt was led by their leader, Sewaram during 1817-19 and was brutally crushed using the British military might.
  • After the British intruded into the Bhil territory in Maharashtra’s Khandesh region, the tribals pushed back fearing exploitation under the new regime in 1818.
  • This uprising again erupted in 1825 as the Bhils sought to take advantage of reverses being suffered by the British in the first Anglo-Burmese war.

News Source: The Indian Express

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