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Examining Indigenous Reactions to Globalization

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Globalization entails amalgamation of different universal ideas, economies and cultures and it involves information technology and industrialization. Globalization as a concept has become more defined in the 21st century but it can be traced back to earlier centuries especially during the 19th century Industrial Revolution. There have been varied reactions to globalization over the years. Some have been in support of it and others have rejected it as a tool for western countries to advance their interests. When the British introduced the Industrial Revolution in India through the East India Company, there was a lot of rejection as it was seen as a form of colonialism. The East India Company had mainly established itself in India to expand its commercial operations. Vas states that between 1857 and 1858 some Indians started the Great Indian Mutiny which was supposed to fight the growing operations of the British in the country which were mainly seen as invasive and foreign. Their attempts at fighting modernization brought by the Industrial Revolution however failed. The Taiping Rebellion was experienced in China in the mid 19th century.  The Revolt was however hailed for beginning the awakening of China. These two mutinies showcased different reactions to globalization. This paper will look at the similarities and differences between the Taiping Revolution and the Great Indian Mutiny. It is clear that in one way or the other these revolts were aimed at making statements on modernization and global integration in general.

Similarities and Differences between the Great Indian Mutiny and the Taiping Revolution

Watson describes the Indian Mutiny and examines the religious, political and economic elements of the civil war. In his book, he explains the reasons why the small British army was able to conquer the much bigger Indian rebel army. He explains that the British army was more organized and had advanced fighting equipment as compared to the Indian rebels. This gave them advantage and they were able to defeat the Indians in their own home ground. The great Indian Mutiny was also referred to as India’s First War of Independence. This was because the mutiny was a way of the Indians expressing their desire for autonomy from the British colonialists. The Taiping Rebellion just like the Indian Mutiny was an uprising and it was also in a way a war of independence from the Manchu rule and it established the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace in south China. The Taiping Rebellion sought independence from the traditional Confucian beliefs and turned to Christianity and the original Chinese culture.

At the time of the Taiping Rebellion, the Manchu dynasty was in power. This dynasty was largely seen to neglect the fundamental needs of the Chinese. At that time there was famine due to uncultivated land, there was also an imbalance between the imports and exports from China. There was a lot of opium being sold in China by capitalist states such as Britain and the business was booming. The Mancu dynasty was seen as incapable of controlling the activities of the Europeans in China who had taken up the lucrative opium business. The Taiping society saw this as an invasion by foreigners who seemed to be doing much better than the majority of the Chinese. The Taiping Rebellion was aimed at the rule which was allowing the foreigners to thrive in China. The foreign ideas and people who went into China from other parts of the world were also greatly resented. David explains that the Taiping had the idea that the Manchu dynasty had transformed millions of Chinese gold to the opium sold by the British. This was a similarity noted also in the Indian Mutiny where there was resistance of the British because their commercial operation in India was doing well.

The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread rebellion that got the attention of the elite in China and also global attention unlike the previous uprisings. The Taiping society was able to capture a large area during its conquest although this land was reclaimed after the defeat of the Taiping rebels. The Indian mutiny was also widespread and included other troops apart from the Indian troops who were referred to as sepoys. After the establishment of the British Empire in India, resentment for their growing influence built up over the years and the revolt was welcome by everyone who had harbored that resentment.

Karl Marx a renowned philosopher intimated that the Taiping and the Great Indian Mutiny were a show of the characteristic nature of the slow nature of reforms in Asian society. These two revolutions showed how unreceptive to globalization the Indians and Chinese were. There were however notable differences between the Indian and the Chinese rebellions.

The Taiping Rebellion was a quasi-Christian revolt orchestrated by Hung Hsiu-Ch’uan against the Manchu dynasty in order to restore China to its original glory. This was because the Manchu dynasty had allowed the Europeans to erode the Chinese traditions. The Taiping society drew Christian teachings from the English missionaries. The Taiping assimilated Western religious beliefs into Chinese traditions. This acceptance of western Christianity meant that the Taiping Rebellion was more receptive to globalization by the embracing of foreign religious ideas. The Taiping Rebellion changed the face of China and made it noticeable to the world which resulted in China being closer to the world. In this sense without knowing it, the Taiping while trying to reverse China to its old ways managed to open China to globalization. The Taiping Rebellion was also able to end the isolation of China and bring it into the circle of Western influence. This was however not the main aim of the rebellion.

The Taiping Rebellion was against the neglect of the government by the Manchu dynasty. They advocated for an egalitarian society where land was distributed equally, there was abolition of slavery and a caste free society. Teng states that the Chinese were also not happy with the growing population that resulted in poverty and lack of food. There were also natural calamities which grew the frustrations of the Chinese. This was however not the case in the Indian mutiny. The Great Indian Mutiny was based on rejecting all westernized ideas and technologies. For instance the troops refused to use cartridges which they alleged had been greased with cow and pig lard. This was seen as an insult to Muslim and Hindu beliefs. The Indian mutiny was mainly fought as a way of shunning westernization which was essentially global integration. They wanted to hold on to their old ways without looking into new ideas. The Taiping Rebellion was seen as different from this as there was embracing of new Christian ideas. The Taiping was also not seen as a rejection of globalization as China was already involved in global trade as early as the 16th century. 


The Taiping and the Great Indian Mutiny had a lot of common factors but they were also different in the strategies applied and their main agendas. The end result for both revolts was that they opened their countries to westernization and eventually to the countries joining the global village. Today China is one of the fast developing countries due to its trade with many countries in the world. The revolution began by the Taiping Rebellion stirred up events that led to what is now modern China. The Indian Mutiny also made the British colonialists gain more power in India which led to eventual westernization and thus global integration. The mutinies were based on the fact that it was perceived that globalization or what they referred to as westernization, would lead to their marginalization and also marginalization of their cultures and beliefs. This was indeed a misconception as the westernization they feared and rejected has ended up being the reason for the countries’ growth up to this 21st century. The Indian and Chinese civilizations were the earliest civilizations that are still in existence up to date. The uprisings played a big role in catapulting these civilizations into the global arena.

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