Prelims Capsule

Prelims Capsule: The Blue Rebellion of 1859


  • March 1859, the ryots (peasants) of Bengal, frustrated with coercive actions of Indigo planters and their lathiyals (lathi-wielding strong men of Planters), as the payment they offered to the ryots did no good to them and they couldn’t grow rice after cultivating indigo on the same land, the ryots took to arms and refused to grow Indigo (a blue dye).
  • The agents of the planters were beaten up, and ryots refused to pay the rent. Few local zamindars came to support these poor ryots and soon the rebellion spread to the nearby areas.
  • When the British Govt heard the news, they were worried of another popular revolt; they were yet to recover from the shock of 1857 episode. Queen directed Magistrate of Barasat (Ashley Eden) to issue a notice stating ryots not to be compelled to accept Indigo contracts.
  • An Indigo commission was appointed, which upon enquiry found planters to be guilty, for employing oppressive methods and they realised the misery that ryots had to suffer. The decision was declared in favour of ryots, they were asked to complete their present contracts and they could refuse to produce indigo in future if they wanted.
  • Production soon collapsed in Bengal. But the planters now shifted the base to Bihar, but it was less intensive as an artificial dye was invented by late nineteenth century.

Bonus content:

The indigo cultivation totally stopped in 1917 after the intervention of Mahatma Gandhi at Champaran when a peasant from Bihar persuaded Gandhi to visit them and see their plight.

Gandhi’s was already a star by then, he started a peaceful protest there and this incident came to be famously known as “Champaran Satyagraha.”
(Not to be confused with Blue rebellion, it is for additional reference)


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