Indo-French Educational Connections: Chandernagore College, Then and Now. Chandernagore College had its origin probably in a free primary school established in 1835, known popularly as Piru Saheb-er School [The School of Mr. Piru]. Initially, the school was partly funded by the French Indian Government at Pondicherry and partly relied on generous contributions from private individuals. Originally it was located on the south-west of Fort de Orleans, by the Grand Trunk Road (then known as Rue de Paris). M. Piru, however, was only a teacher in the school, which was headed by M. Rissy (due to which the school has also been called by some as Rissy Saheb-er School [The School of M. Rissy]. In the opinion of Sri Hari Har Sett, who became the first President of the Free City, as well as others, it was this school which later came up at Rue General Martin (later Rue Barabazar), and was taken over and re-established by Rev. Fr. Magloire Barthet, a Jesuit priest of the order of Frères du Saint Esprit, who is also credited with founding the Sacred Heart Church, into St. Mary’s Institution/ Ecole de Sainte Marie in 1862. Like its predecessor, St. Mary’s Institution, too, was a free primary school, Ecole Elémentaire, with French as the medium of instruction in place of English. However, due to the pressing need for English education, an English section was opened alongside the earlier French section in 1872. As per necessity, arrangements were made with the British government to let the students of the English section of St. Mary’s Institution appear for the Entrance examination under the University of Calcutta. When St. Mary’s Institution was handed over to the French Indian Government on December 15, 1887 by the missionaries, the institution was secularised and came to be known as ‘Ecole Publique de garçons’ [Boys’ Public School]. The school formally begin its journey as a college only in 1891 and was affiliated to the University of Calcutta for Intermediate classes up to the First Arts (F.A.) standard. Students of the institution first appeared for the F.A. Examinations in 1893, with three students passing in the second division and three passing in the third division.
The second phase: Collège Dupleix
In 1901, ‘Ecole Publique de garçons’ was renamed ‘Collège Dupleix’ by an order from the French Indian Government, in memory of Joseph François Dupleix. The College then had, apart from Intermediate classes, an English school section teaching up to the Matriculation standard of the University of Calcutta and a French section teaching up to the standard of ‘Brevet Elémentaire’ of the French curriculum. In terms of administration, the College followed the Directorial system, with a Director and a Sub-Director for both the school and the College sections. The institution was placed under the control of the ‘Chef du Service de l’Instruction publique’ (Director of Public Instruction). The College had the following Directors from its affiliation in 1891 to its shutdown in 1908, namely M. De Larue,
M. J. F. Duillo, M. Sirot, M. F. Decosta and M. Poudens. In 1893 the eminent Indian revolutionary Sri Charu Chandra Roy was appointed as a Professor of English in the institution. A member (later President) of the revolutionary group Bandhav Sammilani at Gondalpara, Sri Roy was led into the mainstream of revolutionary activities by Barindra Kumar Ghose, brother of Aurobindo Ghose. He was, for a long time, the Sub-Director (and the Director for a short while in 1903) of the College and was widely popular. His fervent patriotism, towering personality, depth of knowledge and selfless love for students made him an admirable figure among the young ones. It was he who was largely responsible for the emergence of the College as among the epicentres of revolutionary activities that followed the Partition of Bengal in 1905. Among his students were eminent revolutionaries like Upendranath Bandopadhyay, Narendranath Bandopadhyay, Rash Behari Bose, Srish Chandra Ghosh, Dr. Nagendranath Ghosh, Kanailal Dutta and Manindranath Nayek. It was this group of revolutionaries- known infamously as the ‘Chandernagore gang’ in the report of Charles Tegart on the revolutionary activities in Bengal in 1913- that was involved in a number of activities such as the spread of Swadeshi and boycott in Chandernagore, the obtaining of arms from France and supplying them to various revolutionary groups, the attempt to blast the train of Andrew Fraser at Mankundu, the supply of arms at Alipore Jail, Kolkata, for the murder of the treacherous Naren Goswami by Kanailal Dutta, the attempt at the life of M. Tardival, the Mayor of Chandernagore and finally the granting of shelter to Aurobindo Ghose; however, there is hardly any documented evidence to trace whether the College campus was used as a centre for revolutionary activities or not. The ever-increasing participation of the students and the youth of Chandernagore in the anti-British revolutionary activities alarmed the British rulers. In 1908 Charu Chandra Roy was arrested by the British police due to alleged involvement in the Maniktala bomb conspiracy case. The year also saw the historical shutdown of Collège Dupleix on account of its role in the spread of revolutionary activities. Although official records stated that college classes were abolished due to lack of students, it was evident that the French government had been under pressure from the British; Prof. Sudhangshu Sekhar Dutta, opines that the French Indian Government found it difficult to continue the Intermediate classes attached to Collège Dupleix, and ultimately had to abolish them in the year 1908.
The third phase: re-establishment, Sett, Roy and the world wars
Collège Dupleix, thus abolished by the French Indian Government, remained closed for a period of 23 years. However, efforts were made towards the end of 1917 by Sri Hari Har Sett who promised to bear all costs for two successive years for the maintenance of the College if the College was re-established. Although M. Martineau, the then Governor of French India, agreed to this proposal and issued an decree dated July 27, 1918 to this effect, it did not come into effect, as the new Governor, M. Gerbinis, was not in favour of spreading English education. The efforts of Sri Narayan Chandra De, the then Mayor of the city of Chandernagore, too, turned futile as the grants which he had promised on behalf of the Municipality was considered inadequate by the ‘Conseil Général’ (General Council) of French India; thus from the year 1908 till 1930, Chandernagore could only look forward to and rely on the mercy of Hooghly College for imparting higher education to her children.
The first successful lead in the matter, however, was given by Sri Charu Chandra Roy, the then Mayor of Chandernagore as well as a member of the Conseil Général. Sri Roy, aided by M. Champion, the then Administrator of Chandernagore, was able to bring home to the French Indian Government the dire necessity of reinstating the abolished College-classes in Chandernagore, and the latter ultimately had to yield to the popular demand voiced through him as well as many others. In 1931 the new Governor of French India, M. Adrien Juvanon, granted Rs. 6000/- for the re-establishment of the College. Rs. 4000/- was granted by Charu Chandra Roy on behalf of the Municipality, as promised earlier, and the long-closed College Dupleix was finally re-established as ‘Collège Dupleix – Cours Intermédiat’ on July 4, 1931. The College, on its re-establishment, was kept on an experimental basis from 1931 to 1939. The University curriculum, meanwhile, had undergone radical changes, with the setting up of different faculties of Arts and Science. The College was, therefore, affiliated to the I.A. and I.Sc. standard of the University of Calcutta, and was started in Somerset House, a rented house on the south of the Kuthir Math. In 1932, M.J. Buffard, the teacher of French was temporarily appointed the Principal of the college.The laboratory equipment and library of the College were in a deplorable state. For this purpose, Sri Charu Chandra Roy secured donation of valuable books from a number of benevolent gentlemen of Chandernagore. While M. V. Champion and M. Lehureux donated collections of French Books, Sri Panchanon Banerjee of Gondalpara, Sri Satyakishore Banerjee of Telenipara, Sri Phatiklal Das,Ex-Director of the college, donated valuable books on History, English literature and Sanskrit respectively. During this year 120 students were admitted; 84 in the First year and 36 in the Second year. The institution was placed under the direct control of Governor of the French India, and was financed by the French Indian Government which realised an annual grant from the local Municipality for the purpose. In October, 1933, Sri Dhirendranath Mukherjee, the Professor of Mathematics, was appointed the Principal of the College. From 1933 to 1938, every year the College ran the risk of being abolished. It was mainly due to the efforts of Sri Mukherjee, together with the tireless efforts of Sri Charu Chandra Roy and Sri Sadhucharan Mukherjee (both elected members of the Conseil Général), that such an unpleasant consequence was averted, and a permanent status was finally given to the College by an decree dated June 2, 1938. The College now came to be known as ‘Collège Dupleix- Section d’Etudes Supérieures Franco-Anglaise de Chandernagor’.
The College came under the Public Instruction Department of the French Indian Government and the service of the College staff was regularised. In order to separate the College from the school section, an decree issued by the Chef du Service de l’Instruction publique in 1945 changed the name of the College to ‘Collège de Bussy’, after the French general de Bussy. The wide popularity of the College due to the brilliant instruction and University results now called for degree courses. Due to the efforts of Prof. Sudhangshu Sekhar Dutta, who was also a member of the Representative Assembly at Pondicherry, degree courses were introduced in the college in the year 1947-48 in English, Bengali, Sanskrit, Philosophy, History and Mathematics, together with the introduction of Honours courses in English and French. The tutorial staff was strengthened by fresh recruitment and the library was enlarged to meet the growing demand.
The Present: Chandernagore College, the free city and beyond.
In 1948 the city of Chandernagore was declared a free city (ville libre). The administrative council of the Free City was intent on the development of higher education and thus concentrated on the expansion of the college. In 1948, the College de Bussy was renamed Chandernagore College by virtue of an administrative order which also caused the junior section of the college to be named Kanailal Vidyamandir, after the famous revolutionary and martyr Kanailal Dutta. On 2nd May 1950, Chandernagore was included in the Union of India as a Union Territory, before being included in the state of West Bengal on 2 October in the same year. The responsibility of the college, too, went in the hands of the Government of West Bengal in 1954, following the recommendations of the Jha Committee, article XIV, which stated that the maintenance of Chandernagore College should be the responsibility of the State Government. Since then, it has flourished profoundly. Presently, Changernagore College is affiliated to the University of Burdwan and has been considered equipped enough to run a postgraduate degree course in French. This has been one of the missions set during the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1981. Interestingly enough, the joint efforts of the French and the Bengalis, which contributed to the advancement of the institution, is, perhaps, best reflected in the successful commencement of postgraduate courses both in Bengali and French. This institution is in a position to set up a language lab, for four languages (French, English, Bengali and Sanskrit) are being taught here.
The college is a historical monument, bearing testimony to the collaborative efforts of the French and the Indians (Bengalis, to be specific) in colonial Hooghly. It reflects how amicable relationship between the settler and the native could ultimately pave way to the development of education in colonial Chandernagore. The efforts of Rissy and Piru, the missionary zeal of Father Barthet, the untiring attempts of Harihar Sett and Charu Chandra Roy and the immense contribution of Prof. Kalicharan Karmakar reflected the Indo-French cultural and educational ties in colonial Chandernagore. Still popularly known as ‘Dupleix College’, Chandernagore College bears the memory of French Governor-General Dupleix, as it had borne the name of de Bussy, in whom the people of Chandernagore had once found their spirit of patriotism, liberty and hatred against the British.
Antara Mukherjee and Arcaprova Raychaudhury
BASU, Sitis Chandra. ‘A Brief History of Chandernagore College’. Chandernagore: n.pub, 1955.
DATTA, Sudhangshu Sekhar.’Our College’.Chandernagore: n.pub, 1955. 23pp.
MAJUMDAR, Subhendu. ডুপ্লে কলেজ থেকে চন্দননগর কলেজঃ একটি ঐতিহাসিক পরিক্রমা (From Dupleix College to Chandernagore College: A Historical Journey).Chandernagore: n.pub, 2006. 67pp.
SAMANTA, Basanta Kumar. চন্দননগর কলেজের সংক্ষিপ্ত ইতিহাস (১৮৬২-১৯৮১) ‘A Concise History of Chandernagore College 1862-1981’. (Golden Jubilee Volume, Chandernagore College). Chandernagore: n.pub, 1981. 52pp.
সারসংক্ষেপ / SUMMARY
ইন্দো-ফরাসী সম্পর্কের ঐতিহ্য বহন করে চলা প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলির মধ্যে অন্যতম হল চন্দননগর কলেজ যা ‘ডুপ্লে কলেজ’ নামেই বেশি পরিচিত। এটির বিবর্তনের ইতিহাসের মোট চারটি পর্যায় লক্ষ্য করা যায় – সেন্ট মেরী’জ ইন্সটিটিউশন (1862) , কলেজ ডুপ্লে (1901) , কলেজ দ্য বুসী (1945) ও চন্দননগর কলেজ (1948)। চন্দননগরের বিশিষ্ট জননেতা হরিহর শেঠ ও অন্যান্যের মতে, চন্দননগরে অবস্থিত ফরাসী দুর্গ ফোর্ট দ্য আরলিয়ঁ’র দক্ষিণ-পশ্চিম কোণে অবস্থিত ‘পিরু সাহেবের স্কুল’ (1835 সালে তৈরি হওয়া এই স্কুলটি পরে রূ দ্য জেনারেল মার্ত্যাঁ’য় উঠে আসে) থেকেই চন্দননগর কলেজের যাত্রা শুরু। 1862 সালে বিশিষ্ট ফরাসী ধর্মযাজক রেভারেন্ড ফাদার ম্যাগলোয়ার বার্থে এই স্কুলটিকে প্রতিষ্ঠা করেন ‘একোল দ্য স্যাঁৎ মারী’ বা ‘সেন্ট মেরী’জ ইন্সটিটিউশন’ রূপে। 1872 সালে এখানে ইংরেজি শিক্ষা চালু হয় ও 1887 সালে এটি ফরাসী সরকারের আওতায় আসে। 1891 সালে সেন্ট মেরী’জ ইন্সটিটিউশন কলকাতা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের অনুমোদন লাভ করে ও 1893 সালে এখানকার ছাত্ররা প্রথম এফ.এ. পরীক্ষায় বসার সুযোগ পান। 1901 সালে বিখ্যাত ফরাসী সমরনায়ক জোসেফ ফ্রঁসোয়া ডুপ্লের নামে কলেজটির নাম রাখা হয় ‘কলেজ ডুপ্লে’। এই সময় থেকেই এটি হয়ে ওঠে বিপ্লবী আন্দোলনের প্রাণকেন্দ্র, যার মূল উদ্যোক্তা ছিলেন স্বনামধন্য বিপ্লবী তথা কলেজের ইংরেজির অধ্যাপক ও সাব-ডিরেক্টর শ্রী চারুচন্দ্র রায়। 1908 সালে মানিকতলা ষড়যন্ত্র মামলায় চারুচন্দ্র ব্রিটিশ সরকার দ্বারা গ্রেফতার হন। একই সাথে কলেজটিও অনির্দিষ্টকালের জন্য বন্ধ হয়ে যায়। প্রায় 23 বছর বন্ধ থাকার পর হরিহর শেঠ, চারুচন্দ্র রায় ও তদানীন্তন মেয়র নারায়ণচন্দ্র দে’র প্রচেষ্টায় 1938 সালে কলেজটি খোলে ও আই.এ. কোর্সে পঠনপাঠন শুরু হয়। শ্রী ধীরেন্দ্রনাথ মুখোপাধ্যায় প্রথম প্রিন্সিপাল নিযুক্ত হন। কলেজটির উন্নতির জন্য বই ও অন্যান্য সামগ্রীর যোগানের মাধ্যমে নিরলস প্রচেষ্টা চালান হরিহর শেঠ ও চারুচন্দ্র রায়। 1945 সালে কলেজটির স্কুল ও কলেজ সেকশন পৃথক করা হয়। একই সঙ্গে কলেজটির নাম পরিবর্তন করে ‘কলেজ দ্য বুসী’ রাখা হয়। 1947 সালে এখানে সর্বপ্রথম ডিগ্রী কোর্স চালু হয়। 1948 সালে চন্দননগর মুক্ত নগরী ঘোষণা হলে এক প্রশাসনিক নির্দেশে কলেজ দ্য বুসী পরিচিত হয় ‘চন্দননগর কলেজ’ নামে। বিখ্যাত বিপ্লবী শহীদ কানাইলাল দত্তের নামে স্কুল সেকশনটির নামকরণ করা হয় ‘কানাইলাল বিদ্যামন্দির’, যা বর্তমানে হুগলি জেলার সেরা বিদ্যালয়গুলির মধ্যে অন্যতম। 1950 সালে চন্দননগর ভারত সরকারের আওতাধীন হলে কলেজটি পরিচালনার দায়িত্ব এসে পড়ে পশ্চিমবঙ্গ সরকারের হাতে। সরকারী পরিচালনায় চন্দননগর কলেজ সময়ের সাথে সাথে যথেষ্ট উন্নতি লাভ করেছে। বর্তমানে এখানে অনার্স ও জেনারেল কোর্স ছাড়াও র
বাংলা, ফরাসী ও ভূগোলে স্নাতকোত্তর কোর্স চালু করা সম্ভব হয়েছে। শুধুমাত্র একটি শিক্ষা প্রতিষ্ঠান হিসেবেই নয়, ইন্দো-ফরাসী সম্পর্কের বিকাশ ও শিক্ষার প্রসারে তাদের যৌথ উদ্যোগের এক অন্যতম নিদর্শন হিসেবে চন্দননগর কলেজ আজও বর্তমান।