Why in News:
- The Registry Building, a two-storied structure at Chandernagore built in 1875 and a symbol of French settlement of the colonial town, has been awaiting restoration for a long time.
The history of French in India
- The first French factory in India was established at Surat in 1668 and later one at Machillipatnam. But they were driven out by the Dutch and the British by 1720.
- The French settlement in India began in 1673 with the purchase of land at Chandernagore from the Mughal Governor of Bengal. The next year they acquired Pondicherry from the Sultan of Bijapur. Both became the centres of maritime commercial activities of the French in India.
- Chandernagore was the first trading post on the eastern bank of the Hooghly, set up by the French in 1696.
- Located about 50 kilometres from Kolkata, Chandernagore was designed as a trading town and not a military establishment. It grew to a prosperous trading town under the governance of Joseph Francois Dupleix.
Role of Joseph Francois Dupleix
- He developed friendly relations with the Nawab of Bengal much to the consternation of the British.
- In 1741 Dupleix was transferred to Pondicherry as Governor holding sway over the French areas in India.
- During his governorship Dupleix extended his reign from Hyderabad to Cape Camorin through Carnatic wars.
- He besieged Madras in 1746 both by land and sea. He had absolute control over the Nizam of Hyderabad and Mohammed Ali, the Nawab of Carnatic. But all these were in vain because the British and France while fighting in Europe, changed their administered areas among themselves through various treaties.
- At the height of it, refusing to listen to the suggestions of Dupleix to increase the areas of influence in India, the French recalled him to France.
- Finally, in 1816, following the Napoleonic wars, Pondicherry, Chandernagore, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam and the lodges at Machillipatnam, Kozhikode and Surat were returned to France. By this time, the maritime supremacy of Pondicherry and Chandernagore were eclipsed due to the growing influence of Madras and Calcutta (now Kolkata) by the British.
- French India was provided with an elective general council and elective local councils. The Governor stayed at Pondicherry and was assisted by a council.
Importance of Chandernagore
- It was very active in spearheading the freedom movement against the British.
- Due to its close proximity to Calcutta, it became a safe haven for freedom fighters of all.
- Aurobindo Ghosh who was one of the accused in the Alipore Bomb case of 1909, was acquitted unconditionally and after a short stay at Chandernagore moved to Pondicherry permanently to became a world renowned philosopher.
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