History of Kolkata

History of Kolkata

Present day Kolkata or British Raj's Calcutta, though emerged from strategically located villages, has long and rich history with thousands of years of rich cultural lineage. That cultural ethos of the yore is still running deep into Bengali society, resisting various non-Indian cultural and civilizational invasions. As a result, an exotic amalgam of culture and mixed historical developments can be observed in the history of Kolkata.

Kolkata is largely a British creation that merely dates back to some 300 years. Some British merchants including Job Charnock rowed ashore to Sutanati, a village amongst the cluster of three villages, the other two being Govindpur and Kalikata. Kolkata owes its origin to this English gentleman as he did pronounce the name of the last village.

Known as the 'Jewel of the East' during the British Raj, it was the seat of power of the British and the capital of the country till 1911 AD. No doubt, remnants of Victorian imprints can still be seen on its streets and structures. Since inception, it has been the most important city in the East and nerve centre of trade and industry.

It was here that the country's first industry was set up. Presidency College, which imparted western education was also initially set up in Kolkata, erstwhile Calcutta. The period from 1780 AD to 1860 AD had substantial development. Although Delhi became the capital of India in 1911 AD, loss of power did not alter Kolkata's economic control and the city prospered till World War-II.

Partition of India affected Kolkata adversely. Although, Bengal escaped the scale and intensity of communal violence and bloodshed that rampantly manifested in Punjab, yet the result was no less tragic. The commercial viability of the city was instantly ruined. Once the largest jute producing and export centre, Kolkata became a helpless city without a hinterland. While on the other hand, across the border, Bangladesh grew jute and they had no infrastructure to process the abundant raw material they produced.

Moreover, till this day it faces an amplitude of influx of refugees which, tragically, makes the city festering with some of the most densely populated slums (ghettos), or 'bustees' than anywhere in the world. Kolkata is now hugely crowded cosmopolitan city with the prevailing chaotic conditions deteriorating by and by beyond control.

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