The first and foremost cause was that the Revolt failed to embrace the whole of India. Different sections of society such as moneylenders, merchants and modern educated Indians were actually against the Revolt. The lack of interest shown by the intellectuals in the movement was a serious setback. The resources of the British Empire were far superior to those of the rebels. Similarly, the insurgents lacked a carefully concerted general plan or a strong central organisation to plan the movements of the army and oversee their strategy.
On the other hand, the British possessed better equipment. In addition, the British were aided by new scientific inventions such as the telegraph system and postal communications. This enabled the British to keep in touch with all parts of the country and to manoeuvre their troops according to their needs.
All the said factors combined to cause the defeat of the rebels of the 1857 Revolt and ended in the victory for the British.
The Revolt of 1857 though completely suppressed had shaken the very foundations of British rule in India, for the simple reason that the Revolt exhibited the popular character. It brought together the disgruntled sections of society to rise against the British rule. The common people rose up in arms often fighting with spears and axes, bows and arrows, lathis and scythes, and crude mulkets. However, this civilian revolt was not universal but sporadic and inconsistent. Nevertheless, it added a new dimension to the character of the 1857 Revolt. Another significant aspect of the 1857 Revolt was the Hindu-Muslim unity.
As far as the effects of the Revolt are concerned, it brought about fundamental changes in the character of Indian administration which was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown by the Queen's Proclamation of 1 November, 1858. At the same time the Governor-General received the new title of Viceroy. Lord Canning had the unique opportunity to become the Governor-General as well as the first Viceroy according to the Act of 1858.
Lord Canning proclaimed the new Government at Allahabad on 1 November 1858 in accordance with the Queen's Proclamation. The latter has been called the Magna Carta of the Indian people; it disclaimed any extension of territory, promised religious toleration, guaranteed the rights of Indian princes and pledged equal treatment to her subjects, Indians and Europeans.
The Revolt of 1857 ended an era and sowed the seeds of a new one. The year 1857 is a great divide between the two landmarks in Indian history. One was that of British paramountcy in the first half, and the other is that of the growth of Indian nationalism in the second half of the nineteenth century.