Friday, 27 November 2015

Is Job Charnock founder of Calcutta?

Job Charnock , founder of Calcutta? www.mylesstandish.info
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Job Charnock founding Calcutta, 1690.en.wikipedia.org/wiki

Job Charnock (c. 1630–1692), an employee and an administrator of the English East India Company, traditionally had been regarded as the founder of the city of Calcutta (Kolkata). Not according to  the landmark Calcutta High Court ruling on 16 May 2003, and  his name has been removed  from all official documents as the founder of Kolkata. The honorable judges decreed that no one person can take the credit of founding a 250 year old city, and  Calcutta had grown up from rural settlements, a process that began before Charnock set up camp on the swampy banks of the Hoogly river at a village known as Kalikata ('Sutanuti') on August 24, 1690. "Calcutta does not have a 'birthday'," the court said. So, Job Charnock lost the status as being the founder of Calcutta, which is according to Lord Curzon  (vice-royalty between 1899 and 1905), ... ''is a European city set down upon Asiatic soil and that it is a monument to the energy and achievement of our race.''
Job Charnock's mausoleum, St. John's Church,Kolkata, India. en.wikipedia.org/wiki

Charnock coming  from a Lancashire family, worked briefly  for a  merchant  one Maurice Thomson (died 1676) between 1650 and 1653.  He arrived in Bengal in 1655 to pursue a career with the English company. In January, 1658 he joined the East India Company's service in Bengal, where he was stationed at Cossimbazar, Hoogly, Bengal. 

Because of his being honest, duty-bound and duty conscious, he  drastically reduced the incidences of  smuggling among his less scrupulous colleagues. Obviously for this reason, he was not popular among his  colleagues and earned their ire.Further, he became  a victim of stinking gossip and  carping criticism to discredit him. Being resolute, he just gave a damn to such useless criticism and kept his critics at bay. Having worked in the company's trading division in  saltpeter at Patna, now capital of Bihar, for four years,  he got promotion to a higher post in 1664 and later became a senior manager in 1666. On his personal side,  he chose a  beautiful Hindu widow woman as his wife, despite criticism from his co workers. Soon he became the company's long serving dutiful officer and his hard work and integrity helped him become the  head at Cossimbazar, second in charge of the Company's  operations in Bengal.

In those days,  Cossimbazar was a center of thriving smuggling operations when one William Hedges, became an agent of the Bay and Governor of Bengal. Hedges, was a poor administrator and the smuggling continued without any end in sight, undermining  Charnock's authority. In 1685, upon Charnock becoming the Agent, as his predecessors were inefficient, he faced a  serious crisis  as a result of imposition of 3 1/2% customs duty on goods by the Nawob which was in violation of original 'firman.' The company refused to pay and the relationship between the Nawob and the English became strained. After several unsavory incidents,  a truce had been reached and  Charnock chose  'Sutanuti,'  then "a low swampy village of scattered huts" but a place well chosen for the purpose of defense  and at last settled down there in November, 1687. Here his wife and son unexpectedly died, leaving behind his three daughters.

Here there  was further deterioration of relationship between the English and the ruling  Nawob  that led to the  destruction of Sutaniti settlements. Charnock in those tough days somehow managed the ruler's enormous army through intelligence, diplomacy and  smart war strategy. It was Charnock, who persuaded the English company  at Madras to choose  Sutaniti, the site of what is now Kolkata, as the headquarters of the company for the following reasons: 01. Quite  safe from attacks from the enemies. 02. A clear firing line can be established when attacked by enemies. 03. Easy access to the sea by  river. 04. Deep-water anchorage for the fleet to move in and out.

The Company  in March, 1690, after long patient negotiations received permission from the Mogul ruler Aurangzeb in Delhi to re-establish a factory in Bengal, and on 24 August, 1690. The Mogul ruler and the local Agent of the Mogul ruler were losing enormous money, hence the ruler agreed to a compromise. Charnock came back to build  the headquarters there and called it  Calcutta. With the new Nawob giving full cooperation, on 10 February, 1691 an imperial grant was issued for the English to "contentedly continue their trade". In 1692, it became independent of Madras. In course of time Calcutta, the capital of British India,  began to grow to become the largest  city in the British empire next to London.

Charnock died in Calcutta on 10 January 1692 (or 1693). Over  Charnock's simple grave in the graveyard of St. John's Church, Kolkata, a mausoleum was erected by Eyre, his son-in-law and successor, in 1695. The church being the second oldest Protestant church in Calcutta after John Zacharias Kiernander's Old Mission Church (1770),  The mausoleum is  now regarded as a national monument.


Ref:
 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/1430454/Calcutta-was-not-founded-by-Briton-court-rules.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job_Charnock

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Job-Charnock-not-Kolkatas-founder-Expert-committee/articleshow/36080070.cms