Definition of Sepoy

This term has several meanings. On the one hand, it refers to the indian soldiers that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they were under the command of other foreign armies, especially Great Britain and France. On the other hand, a sepoy is a henchman who works for someone. Finally, it is Synonym of traitor to the country. Regarding its etymology, there are two versions: from the Persian sipahi or from the Turkish spahi. In any case, this word came to our language through Portuguese, specifically from the word “sipaio”.

In Indian history

When the British occupied the territory of India in the eighteenth century, a part of the army consisted of Hindu soldiers. These soldiers were known as sepoys. Although they staged some isolated episodes of rebellion against the colonizers, their behavior was considered unpatriotic by the Indian population.

In the context of Basque separatism

The term sepoy is used to designate individuals who serve the interests of the people who submit to them. For this reason, some separatist Basques call anyone who defends the interests of Spain a sepoy and, therefore, calling someone a sepoy is a serious insult, as it is equivalent to a traitor to the homeland.

The Basque autonomous police or some Basque characters who have represented Spain have received this disqualification (for example, Admiral Blas de Lezo is a hero of the Spanish Armada but a sepoy for some Basque nationalists). The use of this word in Basque society is quite controversial and is a clear example of social division (some feel only Basque and not Spanish and others consider that being Basque and Spanish at the same time is compatible).

In Argentine political terminology

In Argentina there is a deeply rooted national sentiment. In this sense, when it is considered that an individual does not defend the nation but works for foreign interests, he can be insulted with the word sepoy. Thus, a sepoy is an imperialist, a “seller of the country”, a traitor and a “surrender”.

Among Argentine Peronists, this term continues to be used to disqualify anyone who does not show true love for the country. Thus, the anti-Peronists received this qualifier as an insult (in the colloquial language of Argentina, sepoy and gorilla are synonymous terms that are used as a throwing weapon by the Peronist sectors).

Photos: Fotolia – blueringmedia / Igor Zakowski