What was Paika Revolt in British Period

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Title: An Insight into Paika Revolt: A Significant Episode in British India

The Paika Revolt of 1817, also known as the Paika Rebellion, is a crucial subject in the history of India for those preparing for the UPSC examination. Before we delve into the details, it is important to note that the word ‘Paika’ derives from the Odia word ‘Paikraya’, meaning ‘a foot soldier’. These were the traditional military infantry of Odisha who served the local rulers and the Gajapati Maharajas during the medieval period.

1. Beginning of the Paika Revolt:

The Paika Revolt commenced in March 1817 under the leadership of Bakshi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar, the ex-Bakshi (Commander) of the Raja of Khurda. The catalyst for the revolt was the widespread discontentment with the British East India Company’s policies. The economic hardship, tax burdens, and the company’s interruption into the traditional agrarian society caused unrest.

2. Reasons for the Paika Revolt:

The British East India Company’s policy of revenue farming led to the alienation of lands held by the Paikas. This, coupled with rising taxes and systematic marginalization of the Paikas from their traditional roles, fueled resentment against British rule.

The tipping point was the East India Company’s decision to route the revenues to the Raja of Khurda through a middleman, effectively diminishing the influence and revenue of the Paikas.

3. Course of the Revolt:

Under the leadership of Jagabandhu, the Paikas quickly seized control of Khurda. Although initially successful, the revolt faced difficulties due to a lack of a wider support base and strategic plan. The revolt soon spread to other parts of Odisha, and it took the British 15 months to fully crush the rebellion.

4. End of Paika Revolt:

The British used excessive military might and coercive measures, along with promises of administrative reforms and concessions to suppress the rebellion. In May 1818, Jagabandhu was arrested, marking the end of the Paika Rebellion.

5. Significance of Paika Revolt:

The Paika Revolt is often referred to as the First War of Indian Independence by some historians, predating the 1857 Rebellion. It was one of the earliest armed revolts against British rule in India and demonstrated the potential for mass civilian resistance.

It has significant relevance for UPSC aspirants as it highlights an early instance of peasant resistance against British policies. Moreover, an in-depth understanding of such events can help aspirants distinguish between a local rebellion and organized resistance against colonial rule.

In conclusion, the Paika Revolt is an essential part of Indian History that exemplifies early resistance against British rule. It is also a testimony to the valour and courage of the Paikas and their leader Bakshi Jagabandhu. The topic demands a thorough understanding for UPSC aspirants, not just for the examination but to comprehend the broader canvas of India’s fight against colonial administration. Remember, the richness of history lies in its detail. Therefore, reading such topics with utmost dedication will surely help you get an edge in cracking the UPSC exam.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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