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17-02-2023

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Tipu Sultan’s contested legacy: Why the Karnataka BJP president wants to chase away ‘Tipu supporters’

GS-1:The Freedom Struggle — its various stages and important contributors/contributions from different parts of the country.

 

Nalin Kumar Kateel, the president of BJP in Karnataka, sparked a new controversy by suggesting that supporters of Tipu Sultan should be sent "to the forest," and that only those who worship Lord Ram should be allowed to remain in the land.

 

Tipu Sultan

  • Tipu Sultan, born on November 10, 1750 in Devanahalli, which is now known as Bangalore, was the son of Hyder Ali. 
  • Hyder Ali had served in the army of the Wodeyars, who were the Hindu rulers of Mysore, and eventually seized power from them in 1761
  • During his 20-year rule, the kingdom of Mysore expanded gradually by capturing disputed territories at its borders. 
  • Meanwhile, Tipu received education in both statecraft and warcraft and participated in his first battle at the young age of 15. 
  • After his father's death in 1782, Tipu's primary objective was to consolidate the territory that he had inherited. 
  • This included the rebellious provinces of Malabar, Kodagu, and Bednur, which were essential to Mysore's strategic and economic interests.

 

The Complex Legacy of Tipu Sultan: Authoritarianism and Religious Intolerance

  • Tipu was reputed as an effective administrator and a formidable opponent of the British East India Company who died bravely on the battlefield.
  • However, his rule over these regions is often cited as evidence of his authoritarianism and religious intolerance.

Authoritarianism

  • During Tipu's time, warfare was brutal, and those who rebelled against the ruling power were dealt with harshly to set an example and prevent future opposition. 
  • Tipu's punishments for rebels or conspirators included forced conversion and the displacement of people from their native lands to Mysore. 
  • Some of the depopulated areas were resettled with migrants from other regions, such as the Bellary district.
  • Forced relocations took place in both Kodagu and Malabar, the former as a response to continuous resistance against Mysore rule, and the latter, specifically involving Nairs and Christians, due to their perceived treachery and resistance in the Anglo-Mysore Wars.

Religious Intolerance

  • Although Tipu was a tyrant, his motivations were not solely driven by religious fanaticism.
  • Instead, he was a pragmatic ruler who operated within the established conventions of kingship and warfare during his time.
  • While heundoubtedly ordered forced conversions in areas he had annexed, he also supported several temples and Hindu shrines, such as the Sri Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatna and the Math in Sringeri
  • These actions were aimed at consolidating his position as a ruler, the former to quell opposition and the latter to gain acceptance among his predominantly Hindu subjects.

 

Reforms introduced by Tipu

  • Tipu's admiration for European culture was sparked by his encounters with Europeans during warfare. 
  • This led to several reforms and innovations, such asbringing back gunsmiths, porcelain workers, engineers, and physicians from France. 
  • Tipu aimed to modernize Mysore and rival European powers by investing in technology.
  • He introduced iron-cased rockets in warfare, which were used to great effect against larger British armies. 
  • He also initiated administrative and economic reforms, introduced new coins, and established a new land revenue system. 
  • Additionally, he promoted sericulture and provided clothing for lower caste women who were not allowed to wear blouses.

 

Tipu Sultan's Reign as Agent of Social Change and Empowerment

  • According to some historians, Tipu Sultan's rule brought about rapid social and economic improvements in Malabar, as well as removing existing class and caste hierarchies. 
  • Land reforms were implemented, which benefited local landless Muslims and lower-caste Hindus. 
  • This led to instant relief for communities that had previously sufferedunder the upper-casteNamboodiris and Nairs, who owned most of the land at that time. 
  • Tipu's rule empowered a different group in Malabar, namely the poor Muslim share-croppers who were hugely exploited by the Hindu elite, through land grants.

 

Tipu Sultan's Quest for Powerand Controversial Legacy

  • Tipu was a "conqueror" who sought to annex as many territories as possible. 
  • As he waged wars insearch of power, his armies committed excesses such as plundering temples and imposing heavy taxes on locals. 
  • While he was efficient as a war strategist and administrator, he cannot be regarded as a nationalist hero or freedom fighter due to his cruel treatment of people in the territories he annexed.
  • Despite his reputation for being anti-Hindu, there is evidence of Tipu showing selective treatment to peopleof other faiths who favored him. 
  • He rewarded soldiers and local chieftains from the upper-caste Nair community with land grants and signed off on large land grants to several temples. 
  • However, his legacy remains controversial, with criticisms of his autocratic tendencies and brutalrepression in annexed territories.
  • However, Tipu 's death while defending hisfortress of Srirangaptnaagainst British armies in 1799 was seen as a symbol of resistance against British rule during India's freedom struggle. 

 

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Fact File


Why do chatbots sometimes act weird and spout nonsense? Here’s how their underlying technology works

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