East India Company-Foundation of Calcutta

Till 1681, the Company’s commercial interests in Bengal were managed from Fort St George in Madras, more than 800 miles down the coast. For a number of reasons, this arrangement was proving inadequate.

  • Business in Bengal was expanding steadily, but at the same time the Company’s interests were increasingly under threat from native rulers and rival companies.

There were rumblings against the management in Madras and accusations of dishonesty against the Company’s own officials.

  • In 1681, Sir William Hedges came to Hugli as agent and governor of the Company’s affairs in the Bay of Bengal,” and of the factories subordinate to it, at Kasimbazar, Patna, Balasore, Maldah, and Dhaka.
  • He separated the Company’s affairs in Bengal from Madras.
  • But in 1684, the tenure of Hedges ended and Bengal reverted to the control of Madras until 1700, when it finally became an independent presidency.
  • In 1686, the factory at Kasim Bazar and some other factories were confiscated by the Nawab Shaista Khan who presumed upon his relationships with the Mughals to act as a sovereign.
  • The agent of the company was forced to quit Hugli and retire to Sutnati, which was the site of Kolkata.

The company had to abandon the factories in Bengal. The officers sailed down to Balasore on Orissa coast. 4 years later the company made terms with the Mughals and secured an imperial firman renewing all their rights of trade.

  • But this time, instead of Hugli, they established Company’s “Capital” at Sutnati, where he had tarried in 1686, and on August 24, 1690, Job Charnock, an administrator with the Company founded the City of Calcutta as new capital of the English in Bengal.
  • Job Charnock, after a labor and toil of two more years died but his work of foundation of India’s largest Metro was done.
  • Job Charnock placed the English interests upon a secure foundation and prospered continuously from that time onwards.

Now the foundation of Calcutta as a fortified factory of the Company gave the British an opportunity to closely study the political , social and economic condition of the country. They could make out from the wars of the Aurangzeb in Deccan and frequent raids of Marathas that the disintegration of the Mughal Empire is close. To guard against the “Political Risks” of the business, the East India Company had to take measures to consolidate its interests in places which could be fortified to advantage and which should be fully accessible to the Company’s ships at all times.

  • The first right decision was the determination of location of Calcutta and second was already done, the foundation of Madras.

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