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Calcutta 1981

Jean Racine


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1A collective work such as this one can only be achieved with the cooperation of many individuals and institutions.

2First of all, my thanks are due to the contributors to the Seminar which was the starting point of the present volume, the session chairmen and the guests who made such a venture possible, and particularly to Professor Barun De, former Director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, whose support was crucial. In 1982-83, three years after the seminar, those who contributed to the project readily agreed to check and update their papers and/or the transcriptions of their oral interventions in the debates. For this they deserve our renewed thanks.

3I also wish to thank those who kindly agreed to write additional texts for the enlarged edition, such as Shri S.P. Das Gupta and Dr. Nirmala Banerjee; and those who agreed with my request to publish part of their unprinted studies, such as Dr. Sudhendu Mukherjee and Dr. Emmanuel Romatet. Dr. Mukherjee must also be thanked for the visit to Manicktala bustee that he organized for me in 1983, with the kind help of Shri Prasanta Chatterjee, the local representative. Shri R.M. Kapoor, Chief of the Urban Studies Centre of the Times Research Foundation, very kindly communicated his expert studies on Calcutta land use. My friends Subha Das Gupta and Barun Ray readily agreed to attempi respectively a literary bibliography and a filmography on Calcutta, which paved the way for a more intimate understanding of the city. Kurshid Kotval, S.A. Pitchaya, Sudeshna Chakravarty, Jackie Hugret, George William and Hilary Koziol, very graciously helped me to translate some of my texts or notes originally written in French or to improve those written in English.

4There are institutions to be thanked also. First, the West Bengal Government, whose Minister for Urban Development, Shri Prasanta Sur, inaugurated the seminar, and whose Finance Secretary, Shri M.G. Kutty, presented a paper and actively participated in the debates. Next, the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, and its successive Chief Executive Officers, Shri S.B. Ray, and later Shri M.G. Kutty, who helped a great deal, with four CMDA officers participating in the seminar. Access to documents, maps and photographs in 1983 made valuable additions and updating possible.

5Thanks are due also to the following Indian Institutions:

  • The National Library, then headed by Professor R.K. Das Gupta, for the bibliography elaborated by Shri H.C. Gupta, Deputy Librarían.
  • The Department of Geography of Calcutta University, and particularly Professor Bireswar Banerjee, then Head of the Department, and Mrs. Suprabha Ray, for giving me access to the recent studies by her M.A. students which has enabled me to present maps 5.3, 5.5, 5.6.
  • The National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation, for the paper specially written in 1982 by the then Director, Shri S.P. Das Gupta, and for the permission given by the present Director, Shri G.K. Dutt, to present here maps 5.1 and 5.4.
  • The Statesman of Calcutta, and particularly Shri S.K. Datta-Ray, Assistant Editor, for kind permission to reproduce here a few significant articles published first in this leading daily.
  • The Hindu of Madras, for permission to reproduce G. Adhikari's article on the power crisis in West Bengal.
  • Chirabani for the constant support of its Director, Father Roberge, and for permission to publish some of the photographs from its unique collection on Calcutta.
  • The Directorate of Census Operations, West Bengal then headed by Shri S.N. Ghosh, for the contribution by his deputy, Shri. Sukumar Sinha, and for their cooperation at the updating stage, after the 1981 Census.
  • The Calcutta Port Trust, then chaired by Shri T.C. Dutt, for the information and maps provided in 1982.
  • Unnayan, and particularly Shri Jai Sen, for permission to present large extracts of the studies conducted on the rickshawallahs.
  • And last but not least, the Alliance Francaise of Calcutta, under the Presidentship of Lady Ranu Mookerjee. Working in constant liaison with the French Cultural Centre, the Alliance played a decisive role in the preparation of the seminar, and, later, in the elaboration of the provisional volume. In this connection, S.A. Pitchaya, Kurshid Kotval, Manesha Sharma, Maurice Pavy, Kavita Sachdev and Salim Baig deserve special thanks for their specific contribution to the project.

6On the French side, the French Institute of Pondicherry, with late Dr. Pierre Legris as its director, must be mentioned first. All the maps and charts were drawn there, by the dedicateci team of cartographers, Messrs Petrus, Kessavane, Ramanoujam, Anandam, Bhaya. Miss M.S. Richard, of the Institute, also helped in completing the typing of the enlarged manuscripts as did Miss Trembley's students, at the Lycée Francais of Pondicherry. Thanks are also due to Dr. François Gros, Director, and to Dr. Bruno Dagens of the Ecole Francaise d'Extrême-Orient for the technical assistance of their photographic department. The Alliance Francaise of Pondicherry, under the Directorship of Mr. F. Fernandez, also readily helped in the preparation of the final manuscript.

7From the very inception of the project, I was encouraged by the successive Directors of the Centre d'Etudes de Géographie Tropicale, Bordeaux, Professor Guy Lasserre, Dr. Pierre Vennetier and Dr. Pierre Usselmann. They readily agreed to the idea of an Indian edition, in English, of a volume planned to be released first in French by the Centre. After my depature from Calcutta in 1982, the Centre provided funds for another visit to India in 1983, which helped to complete the enlarged and updated manuscript. The final touches of the French version were given in 1983-84 at the Centre itself, with the competent help of Aimée Lafitte for the maps, and of Alain Vergnes and Jean-Pierre Vidal for the photocomposition of maps and plates.

8I must acknowledge the decisive role played by the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris, which decided, at the initiative of Professor Clemens Heller, to help both the French and the Indian versions of this volume to materialize. Without the Maison, a cornerstone in the field of cooperation in Social Sciences between India and France, the present issue of this book by an Indian publisher would have just remained a project.

9For years this volume was unfortunately entangled in technical difficulties which seriously delayed its publication. It is only when the French Institute, Pondicherry, took over the composition of the book that technical problems were solved. I wish to thank Dr J.P. Pascal, the new Director of the Institute and Christine Selvanadin, who was in charge of the book, for having made, with the help of K. Kichenassamy, this Indian version of the volume a reality.

© Institut Français de Pondichéry, 1990

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