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Paika Rebellion:

GS Paper 1:

 

Topics covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

 

Context:

Union Culture Minister recently made the following recommendation regarding the Paika Rebellion:

  • “The 1817 Paika rebellion of Odisha could not be called the first war of Independence, but considering it as the beginning of a popular uprising against the British, it would be included as a case study in the Class 8 National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) history textbook.”

 

Who are Paikas?

Recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) and titles.

  • They were the traditional land-owning militia of Odisha and served as warriors.

 

How did the rebellion begin?

  • When armies of the East India Company overran most of Odisha in 1803, the Raja of Khurda lost his primacy and the power and prestige of the Paikas went on a decline. So, they rebelled back.
  • The British were not comfortable with these aggressive, warlike new subjects and set up a commission under Walter Ewer to look into the issue.
  • The commission recommended that the hereditary rent-free lands granted to the Paikas be taken over by the British administration and this recommendation was zealously adhered to. They revolted against the British.
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mohapatra Bharamarbar Rai, the highest-ranking military general of King Khorda Mukund Dev II, led the Paikas to join the uprising.
  • However, the rebellion also had several other underlying causes – like the rise in the price of salt, abolition of the cowrie currency for payment of taxes and an overtly extortionist land revenue policy.

 

Outcome:

Although initially the Company struggled to respond they managed to put down the rebellion by May 1817. Many of the Paik leaders were hanged or deported. Jagabandhu surrendered in 1825.

 

Nationalist movement or a peasant rebellion?

The Paika Rebellion is one among the peasant rebellions that took place in India when the British East India Company was expanding its military enterprise. Because these uprisings violently clashed with European colonialists and missionaries on many occasions, their resistance is sometimes seen as the first expression of resistance against colonial rule — and therefore considered to be “nationalist” in nature.”

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Paika Rebellion.
  2. Paiks.
  3. Walter Ewer Commission.

Mains Link:

Is Paika Rebellion a Nationalist movement or a peasant rebellion? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.