Paper to Compare and Contrast the Indian Mutiny and the Taiping Rebellion as Indigenous Reactions to Globalization

Compare and Contrast the Indian Mutiny and the Taiping Rebellion as Indigenous Reactions to Globalization

The Indian Mutiny (1857-1858) and Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) were a result of Britain’s vision of an integrated system of international trade, the globalization of Western powers. Britain gained confidence when new technologies, more attractive goods, and better information became available to control Southeast Asia, India and China most specifically, in the form of despotism. This remained effective over Britain’s imperialistic rule since Southeast Asia had always been porous to global influences until India and China, through these indigenous reactions, decided to check British expansion. The British for a long time were under pressure to push deeper into the Indian and Chinese countries for diverse reasons. Merchants complained of restraints on trade, missionaries wanted to save more souls and spread Christianity, sailors demanded more ports for maritime trade and proconsuls claimed that a larger colony would lead to cheaper rule . Once India and China were penetrated by the British Empire, they presented indigenous reactions to the globalization efforts Britain tried to implement. The purpose of this paper is to study the Indian and Chinese indigenous reactions, through the form of Mutiny and Rebellion, to globalizations in the following sectors: strategic penetration, economics, religion, education and socio-political aspects. But first, it will introduce the Indian Mutiny and Taiping Rebellion so that the indigenous interactions may be fully understood.

The Indian Mutiny, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, and the Taiping Rebellion first of all differed in principle but shared the common ground of only occurring after British penetration into their respective countries. The first, as its name suggests, was a mutiny: an open rebellion against the proper authorities by soldiers against their officers. It was a concoction of economical, religious, educational and socio-political reasons initiated when Sepoys, Indian soldiers serving under British orders, heard rumors that the cartridges for their new Enfield rifles were greased with cow and pig fat. Since the cow is sacred to Hindus and the pig abhorrent to Muslims, all sepoys were outraged, refused the cartridges and as punishment were given long prison terms and put in jail. This incensed comrades, resulting in the Mutiny initiated on May 10, 1857 . The second, the Taiping Rebellion, was not a rebellion against foreign authorities but in fact local authorities after modern western ideas were introduced into the Chinese culture. It was in fact a civil war led by Christian convert Hong Xiuquan against the current government: the Qing Dynasty. Hong craved social reforms after being presented to Western ideas and challenged Chinese traditions, especially Confucianism and Buddhism with his western modern adopted Christian view concretized in the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Hence, both riots present themselves as indigenous reactions to the increasing pace of westernization after British penetration. Both Indigenous societies were hence affected, resulting in the riots, and the changes these caused will be discussed in depth in the following categories: strategic penetration of the British, economical, religious, educational and socio-political reforms.

British penetration into India and China differed. It is important to note India became part of Britain’s formal empire while China became solely an informal colony , the first establishing direct political and military control and the second, indirect control through economic manipulation (incentives or disincentives) . But regardless of their colonial status, both countries could have avoided penetration in the same manner. To defeat colonial invasion, they both would have to keep unscathed their communication networks, along with their movement of goods, ideas and information. With elaborate economic networks such as those of taxes or even religious networks, Europeans would be hesitant to engage in this “blind man’s bluff”. This in fact was proven to be true as China was the least accessible to European influence due to its restrictive Canton System. Chinese conquest only occurred after its economic network broke as a result of the First and Second opium wars that resulted in a cease to economic expansion due to rapid outflow of silver in 1850 and the end of the Canton system . This in turn caused tensions between the social classes of the Chinese population and a lack of unity or network to occur. Hence, if Britain could disrupt the network, it could advance with its industrialized consumer goods and cheaper credit to break any economic linkage that brought unity. British entrance into India was a complete different strategy. Its openness helped Britain primarily because dissimilar to China, no great wall barred the Hindustan land. Nor were any foreign trade confined to pre-selected ports like the Chinese Canton System with its trade occurring through middleman entitled ‘compradores’. India’s lack of elaborated networks made it easier for Europeans to gather knowledge about India than China and avoid the “blind man’s bluff”. India’s trade was less controlled by a distant Emperor and lacked a hostile bureaucracy like the Chinese . It was therefore easy for Europeans to gain control over trade and taxation and found the British East Indian Company. This provided the British the money to finance their wars of conquest. It paid for London troops, shifting the cost from Britain- the ultimate beneficiary of penetrating deeper into this Crown jewel colony . In conclusion, although both India and China could have avoided Britain invasion utilizing the same strategy, Britain could not have invaded both countries with the same strategy for reasons listed above. The British had in fact managed to enter the countries and the first reaction of the indigenous populations to be discussed is the economic one.

The indigenous populations, after coming into contact with modern western ways, hence globalizing, felt economic changes in three main areas of their economy: work, tax and trade. This was the common ground for Indian and Chinese indigenous populations, changes in these 3 sectors occurred to both, even if very different in nature. The first sector to be analyzed is work. Labor systems in both India and China were being created. In India, the indigenous were being excluded from job or promotion opportunities based on the Darwinist mindset of the West that the white officers were inherently and racially superior to the Indians. This was stated in the doctrine of “marital races”, that the Indians did not have the required genes, martial aptitude or “guts” for the job . Hence, Sepoys had low pay, other Indians had lower ranked jobs and they had to conform to the new system. With the creation of the Suez Canal in 1869, British goods could be easily exported to India, destroying Indian crafts and consequently generating unemployment. In China, western merchants would set up agencies in cities with brokers called ketous who relied on other people called crimps to find laborers and these were paid per worker delivered . The Chinese like the Indian also conformed to the new system implemented by the West but for a different reason. A drought caused the Yangtze River to shift its course and this generated unemployment since farmland was destroyed and the agricultural sector of the economy unstable. The second economic sector affected after globalization and felt by indigenous populations was taxation. In China, Tseng Kuopfan levied new taxes on commerce in a western managed Maritime Customs Service . In India, the indigenous population now had to finance the British East Indian Company through taxation, demanding revenue from the poorest class for the first time since Indian banking families were the ones previously financing this western institution. The last economic sector felt by indigenous populations was a change in trading patterns with globalization. China initially thought maritime trade was dangerous and restricted contact with merchants through the Canton system but this changed. Under British ways, Indians and Chinese were linked economically. Indian trade paid for Chinese trade. If India provided Britain with personnel for it to maintain largest standing army, Britain allowed India to trade first with China, then with the world. Indian indigenous population like the Chinese also suffered major changes with globalization. It was at first a source of manufacturing high quality and luxury goods but under British rule became a producer of primary products. Western integration into Asian indigenous populations caused a reorganization of their labor, tax and trade systems for both China and India, even if these changes were different for both, change in their economic systems was a similarity the populations faced.

The third sector of indigenous population life changed was religion and education combined during the Indian Mutiny and Taiping Rebellion. Indian Mutineers felt that the introduction of western methods of education was a challenge to their traditions. Any quarrel between Britain and India could be translated to a quarrel between Christianity and Hinduism . Education was a tool utilized by missionaries to convert indigenous populations. This can be seen with the establishment of missionary schools and their examinations that were given in exchange for prizes as well as the village schools where nothing but the doctrine of Jesus was taught . A new western technology helped spread the missionary’s word to indigenous populations: the telegraph . It was an ideal device for the conquest of space and populations and their conversion. The Chinese indigenous population involved with the Taiping Rebellion accepted instead of rejected western religion. Hing Xiuquong accepted Christian theology believing he was Jesus Christ’s younger brother and created a kingdom based on heavenly peace. He created the Taiping Imperial Declaration that emphasized sins as wrongdoing, equality important, smoking of opium and tobacco illegal and that violation would be dealt with by decapitation . So, while Indian indigenous population fought in the Mutiny to maintain its religious traditions, as seen when they refuse to use the believed to be fat waxed rifles, the Chinese indigenous population fought in the Taiping Rebellion to eliminate old traditions like Confucianism and welcome western religion. When it came to the maintenance of the local traditions sector of indigenous life, apart from having diverging views on religion, the Indian Mutiny and the Taiping Rebellion both wanted egalitarian rhetoric and extreme separation of men and women. The Indian Mutiny fought to bring back the caste system as old Indian aristocracy began being slowly replaced by British officials. The very traditional protested but it was mostly unsuccessful: revival of the past or an exclusion of the west was not realistic and the traditional structure of the population was eventually superseded by a westernized class system creating for the first time a strong middle class in the population as aristocrats were debunked by British officials. The Taiping rebellion’s stage was also one of decaying old order. But they did not give in as easily as the mutineers, using the collapse of old order as a tool to build local power, annexing more an more smaller corps until they created integrated armies. The diverging goals of both riots made them deal with the loss of their culture differently, one embracing the new ways to come, the other trying to bring back their ancient ways at any cost.

Great change however came in still one more aspect of both these indigenous population’s lives: the political one. In the age of reform, Britain wanted to intervene in Indian culture. Most specifically, Lord Dalhousie wanted to modernize infrastructure and institutions that the populations were used to, especially religion, bringing about the mutineers rage. By affecting Indian indigenous culture, the British were creating local grievances that turned violent. The Sepoys took action into restoring the past by putting old emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar as head of the revolt. But the mutineers were rapidly taken down due to their less advanced technology compared to that of the British. The practice of Doctrine of Laps, one where British bans Indian rule from allowing the adoption of an heir, was another modification put into practice by Dalhousie. From there on, Indian politics was no longer in the hand of its population. On August 2, 1858 the British Government passed the Government of India Act, transferring Authority from India to Queen Elizabeth, who in turn declared herself Empress of India. This government was abhorred by the indigenous as it did not maintain friendly relations with its people: it was not knit together. The population was not treated with respect but in fact with contempt . Despite an improvement in the infrastructure of India including the increasing number of factories, railroads, hospitals, schools and roads, the mutineers preferred their old ways. This is perhaps the greatest contrast to the Chinese indigenous. The indigenous Hong, once in contact with western religion, established a heavenly kingdom to replace the corrupt old ways of the Manchu Qing dynasty . The rebellious wanted, and this cannot be stressed enough as a contrast to the mutineers, to establish new traditions. Hong saw technology and religion all benefits to the society. Like the Indian indigenous population, roads were replaced; old rush lights were replaced by electric lights, new communication methods like telegrams and phones integrated, as well as the establishment of banks final . He and the indigenous population involved in his rebellion, the Taipings, saw old ways of Manchu domination of the Qing dynasty incorrect. Because of this, they rejected the traditions of Confucianism, opium and alcohol consumption, gender inequity and unequal distribution of land. They unlike the Mutineers thought it was time to change.

This paper analyzed indigenous reaction, through the form of the Indian Mutiny and Taiping Rebellion, to the integration of the globalization into their cultures. It demonstrates an in-depth analysis of different reactions in different aspects of their lives: like the first encounter, their economics, their religion and education, and their socio-political setting. But most importantly, it demonstrates the similarities and differences in the reactions of these two indigenous populations as they experienced the same British domination. It is of most importance to recognize the Taiping’s openness to western culture and the Mutineer’s heavy effort in preventing the integration of this culture into their own. It is also important to understand the different goals of these riots: one being of the population against foreigners and the other, the Taiping, a revolt of the population, once integrated with western ways, with its old ways. Hence, the second being civil in nature. The permeation of Western modernity into Ancient Asian ways was inevitable, how indigenous populations decided to deal with the globalization was however the key to their future success.

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