Rani Lakshmibai

In 1858, Rani Lakshmibai, a leading figure in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, died from injuries inflicted upon her after the British led a vicious attack upon Jhansi, her kingdom in Uttar Pradesh, in their efforts to conquer India for the Crown and impose ruinous land policies introduced by Dalhousie, a British aristocrat and administrator. Dalhousie’s laws would wreak havoc on Indian civilization, leading to mass unemployment amongst peasants and deep political unrest as local rulers were toppled only to be replaced with a native ruling class loyal to Queen Victoria and the British Empire. Indian industries were forcibly destroyed. The handicraft industry collapsed and artists were impoverished. Dalhousie pried India open to create a captive market for English goods, leaving Indian workers without jobs and open to exploitation, forcing them to labor for the British Raj. Unlike the comprador classes of rulers who cooperated with British authorities, however, Lakshmibai stood with the people and defended India against the European pretender. In the Jhansi army, women played a leading role in soldiering, carrying ammunition, providing food to the soldiers, and maintaining post. Lakshmi Bai herself inspected her forces daily and attended to their needs in addition to developing the larger defense strategy. She is pictured here carrying her son on her back in cavalry attire.

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