The Mixing of West with the East in the 1800’s

Military family motor tour of India photograph album, Page 4

Military family motor tour of India photograph album, Page 4

In 1818, with the signing of the Treaty of Mandsaur, the British East India Company became the dominant power in the region. The British East India Company was created to further British trade with India and Asia. Unlike other British colonies that were meant to be populated by British citizens, India was intended by the British as a supply source for various goods. Initially, the British did not force any form of religion or British culture onto the Indian people except for a failed attempt to teach English. At left, a page from the photograph album depicts an Indian bazaar seemingly untouched by British culture. Once power shifted from the East India Company to the British Government more British culture was introduced, which was controversial and was one of many contributing factors to the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

India remained under the control of the British East India Company until the Indian Mutiny of 1857. The Indian Mutiny was a reaction against the changes the British were trying to impose on Indian culture. The changes to various Indian laws were seen as forcing a Western agenda on the Indian people who were mostly Hindu or Muslim.

The Indian Mutiny did not occur among the general population of India, because of the division of castes and religion, but occurred within the Indian military forces employed by the British East India Company. The Indian Mutiny was sparked when a rumor that the cartridges of the newly issued Lee-Enfield rifles were greased with cow fat. The rumor grew to include that pig fat was also used in the cartridges. Provoked by these claims, the Indian military comprised of both Hindu and Muslim soldiers began protesting because cows are sacred to Indian culture and pigs are considered unclean in Muslim culture. 

Military family motor tour of India photograph album, Page 5

Military family motor tour of India photograph album, Page 5 

The initial protestors who claimed that the British were trying to destroy Hindu and Muslim culture were arrested. The next day, an Indian cavalry unit mutinied and freed those who were imprisoned. Soon after, other infantry units followed suit.

Within a year, the Indian Mutiny ended with a British victory. In 1858, the conflict forced the British government to assume control of India from the British East India Company. This ended the Company’s control of the sub-continent and the existence of the Company itself. The photograph album page at right shows various military offices in India from 1909-1911. The photographs illustrate the military presence in India.