Modern Asian Studies


Colonial Beginnings and the Indian Response: The Revolt of 1857–58 in Madhya Pradesh

David Bakera1

a1 St Stephen's College, Delhi

The Narmada valley and adjoining districts of Madhya Pradesh came under British administration following the defeat of Sagar and Nagpur in 1818. Known from 1820 as the Saugor and Nerbudda (Sagar and Narmada) Territories (map 1), the area was administered, variously, as an agency of the governor general or as a commissioner's division of the North Western Provinces. As officials made the area part of the British imperial and capitalist system, they met with increasing resitance from notables, smaller chiefs and malguzars. A first round of protests occurred between 1818 and 1826, though these proved no much for the new administration or the troops still in central India. A more determined agitation took place in 1842–43, to meet the same fate. In 1857–58 the traditional landowners launched a third and more coordinated revolt against British rele, but were again unable to dislodge it from the region. This essay explores the origins and nature of that revolt and it does so against the background of colonial beginnings in Madhaya Pradesh.