Battle of Koregaon: Why the Dalits hate Peshwas and celebrate this British ‘victory’

On January 1, 1818, a battalion of around 900 soldiers under the British East India Company marched from Shirur to Pune in Maharashtra to face an army consisting of 20,000 soldiers led by Baji Rao II. The battle that lasted for a very short while resulted in the death of more than 200 soldiers on the side of the British and about 500 soldiers on the side of the Peshwas. According to Scottish statesman and historian Mountstuart Elphinstone, who visited the battlefield two days later, houses had been burnt and the streets were covered with dead bodies of men and horses. While the Battle of Koregaon did not see either of the parties emerging clearly victorious, it still came to be regarded as a moment of triumph for the British, who had finally won the Anglo-Maratha war and went on to construct a ‘victory pillar’ at Koregaon.

The victory was seen as a win against caste-based discrimination and oppression. Peshwas were notorious for their oppression and persecution of Mahar Dalits. The victory in the battle over Peshwas gave Dalits a moral victory a victory against caste-based discrimination and oppression and sense of identity.

However, the divide and rule policy of the British created multiple fissures in Indian society which is even visible today in the way of excessive caste and religious discrimination which needs to be checked keeping in mind the tenets of the Constitution.

Why Bhima Koregaon is seen as a Dalit symbol?

  • The battle has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because a large number of soldiers in the Company forces were the Mahar Dalits. Since the Peshwas, who were Brahmins, were seen as oppressors of Dalits, the victory of the Mahar soldiers over the Peshwa force is seen as the Dalit assertion.
  • On 1 January 1927, B.R. Ambedkar visited the memorial obelisk erected on the spot which bears the names of the dead including nearly two dozen Mahar soldiers. The men who fought in the battle of Koregaon were the Mahars, and the Mahars are Untouchables.
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PM Modi to release commemorative coin on Paika Rebellion; will inaugurate Lalitgiri Archaeological Museum

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the commemorative coin and postage stamp in memory of Paika Rebellion on December 24, 2018, during his visit to Bhubaneswar to commemorate Paika Rebellion.

The Prime Minister will also be inaugurating the Lalitgiri Archaeological Museum, adding a new facet of tourism in the region and increase the immense potential of employment generation.

Reason for the revolt:

The Paikas were the traditional land-owning militia of Odisha and served as warriors. When armies of the East India Company overran most of Odisha in 1803, the Raja of Khurda lost his primacy and the power and prestige of the Paikas went on a decline. The British were not comfortable with these aggressive, warlike new subjects and set up a commission under Walter Ewer to look into the issue.

The commission recommended that the hereditary rent-free lands granted to the Paikas be taken over by the British administration and this recommendation was zealously adhered to. They revolted against the British.

However, the rebellion had several other underlying causes – like the rise in the price of salt, abolition of the cowrie currency for payment of taxes and an overt extortionist land revenue policy.

Although initially, the Company struggled to respond they managed to put down the rebellion by May 1817. Many of the Paik leaders were hung or deported. Jagabandhu surrendered in 1825.

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Goa celebrates 57th Liberation Day

Goa Liberation Day is being celebrated today. Goa was liberated on 19th December 1961, from around 450 years of Portuguese rule. Various functions have been organized across the state to mark the occasion.

At the state-level Goa Liberation Day programme held in Panaji in North Goa this morning, speaker of Goa legislative assembly Pramod Sawant unfurled the tricolour, reviewed the parade and addressed the gathering. Mr Sawant shared the thoughts of chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who was unable to attend the celebration due to illness.

Portuguese were the first ones to colonize parts of India and were the last to leave. The Portuguese invaded Goa in the year 1510.

Operation Vijay began on December 17, 1961, when the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ordered the invasion. With a force of almost 30,000, the Indian attack overpowered the ill-prepared Portuguese 3,000 member army. With minimal bloodshed, the attack was successful and was carried forward to retrieve the other Portuguese-controlled areas, Daman and Diu.

At this point on December 18, the Portuguese Governor General Vassalo da Silva gave up control of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu. Three days after the attack began, Goa finally became a part of India.

Referendum and Statehood:

The Goa Opinion Poll was a referendum held in the state of Goa, India, on 16 January 1967, to decide the future of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu within the Indian Union. Although popularly called an opinion poll, it was in fact, a referendum, as the results of the poll were binding on the government of India. The referendum offered the people of Goa a choice between continuing as a union territory or merging with the state of Maharashtra. It is the only referendum to have been held in independent India. The people of Goa voted against the merger and Goa continued to be a union territory. Subsequently, in 1987, Goa became a full-fledged state within the Indian Union.

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