Explained: Who were the Paikas of Odisha and what will the Paika Memorial celebrate?

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News:President will lay the foundation stone for a memorial to mark 200 years of the Paika Rebellion.

Facts:

Who were Paikas:

  • The Paikas were a class of military retainers who had been recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for hereditary rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) and titles.

Historical Background:

  • Till 1803 Odisha was under the Maratha rule.However,after the second Anglo-Maratha War,the Marathas were forced to cede most of their territory in Odisha to the British East India Company.
  • After entering Odisha, the British introduced new revenue settlements due to which many Paika proprietors ended up losing their lands to absentee Bengali landlords.
  • The changes in the currency and revenue systems meant the Paikas had to pay taxes in silver which was more expensive for them.This resulted in further marginalisation and oppression of the Paikas.

About Paika Rebellion:

  • The Paik Rebellion was an armed rebellion against the British East India Company’s rule in 1817.
  • In 1817,Several Kondhs descended from the Ghumusar area to rise in revolt against the British. 
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu, the hereditary chief of the militia army of the Gajapati King of Khurda led an army of Paikas to join the uprising of the Kondh.
  • The Paikas set fire the government buildings in Banapur and killed several British officials. 
  • Over the next few months,the Paikas fought bloody battles at several places, but the British army gradually crushed the revolt.
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu escaped to the jungles and stayed out of reach of the British until 1825, when he finally surrendered under negotiated terms.

Significance of Paika rebellion:

  • The Paika Rebellion is one among the peasant rebellions that took place in India when the British EIC was expanding its military enterprise.
  • Since these uprisings violently clashed with European colonialists and missionaries, their resistance is sometimes seen as the first war of Independence against colonial rule.Therefore,it is also considered to be nationalist in nature.