- A city of Bengal in Northeast India and, during the nineteenth century, the capital of the British Empire’s most valued territorial possession. A principal base of the East India Company as early as the 1690s, Calcutta emerged as the administrative center of British India as the Company consolidated its control of Bengal. It also became a major commercial center and vital port of colonial seaborne trade and enjoyed a position of enormous prestige among colonial cities of the Empire. Also, Calcutta was known for its superb British colonial architecture and its rich cultural and intellectual life, particularly its role in the Bengali Renaissance. In 1885, the formation of the Indian National Congress made Calcutta into a center of nationalist politics, a role that became more important after the partition of Bengal province by Lord Curzon in 1905. In 1912, the Indian capital was moved to Delhi, but Calcutta remained a hotbed of radical nationalism until Indian independence in 1947.FURTHER READING:Chaudhuri, Sukanta. Calcutta, The Living City. 2 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.