During the seventeenth century, a number of foreign trading companies, backed by their respective governments, set up small trading posts near sea shore in various parts of India. Being next to the sea was logistically important as both the imports from as well as the exports to Europe were through the sea route. Some of these gradually got converted into towns under control of the foreign companies while the others withered away.
Balasore was one such trading post or ‘Loge”, as the French called it, which lost importance with the passage of time and especially because of the development of Chandernagore and Calcutta. However a small piece of land in Balasore remained under the French sovereignity till September 1, 1947.
The documents in the present compilation relate to the British and French dispute over that small piecre of land. There are copies of ‘Parwanas’ issued by the Moghul Emperor/ his officers permitting the French to take up trading in Balasore. One notices from some of the letters written specifically about Balasore by the Viceroy to the French Governor in India, how important the issue was. There are some letters that throw light on the French diplomats discussing the issue of loges, especially of the Balasore loge, with Pt. Nehru.
The compilation also includes three important reports on the Balasore issue prepared by the French, namely the Pilinski Report-1905, the Heron Report-1936 and the De Pereyra Report-1949. Full texts of important Conventions signed between the British and the French viz. the Opium Conventions of 1906 and 1912 and the Convention of 1917 under which the French Balasore land was taken on lease by the British, have also been included in this book.
And there are documents hinting at a feeling if not an apprehension or a wish, that India would not be able to sustain itself as an independent nation for long. We can only say with a chuckle ‘What a delusion it was!’, as India has shown to the world in the years that followed.
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