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When did Pondicherry join the Indian Republic?

27 January, 2020 02:58:15
When did Pondicherry join the Indian Republic?

Just after Indian independence till India was declared a Republic, Shri Aurobindo Ghosh had fervently appealed to merge Pondicherry, that was still a French colony with India. He was so desperate in his idea of this merger that he even came out of his seclusion to address the nation. He went into refuge in 1926, and hardly ever made an appearance outside his ashram. But in 1947, he came out in public again, summoned Bengal Congress leader Surendra Mohan Ghosh and other members of the Indian National Congress,to put forward his proposal to merge Pondicherry with India, retaining some autonomy, to keep the cultural link between India and France alive.

Later, he even met Maurice Schumann, who was heading a French cultural delegation, and Francois Baron, Governor of the French Union. This was the first time in 18 years that he met anyone outside the ashram. He endorsed Schuman’s plan to make Pondicherry a meeting place for India and France culturally. In 1950, when Indian Constitution was finally drafted, he again gave a call and took his appeal till Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru expressed interests in the plan, but could not execute it immediately. Shri Aurobindo did not live to see this merger, that finally happened in 1954.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry

The other French colony Chandernagar had a different story. It would have been automatically merged with Indian Union, as it was considered to be part of the then Kolkata. But Pondicherry was colonially and historically a French dominion, unlike Chandernagar, that was ruled by Portuguese, Danes and then the French. But Pondicherry was integrally a French dominion, so there was a lot of controversy regarding its merger and the French in India were not ready to accept this proposal.In June 1947,Shri Aurobindo appealed to all in a letter for the merger: 

We appeal to all progressive forces in France to favour this line of development so that the actual relation between ourselves which is now that of suzerainty and vassalage should be transformed into one of brotherhood and mutual understanding, so that France and India should stand before the world as closely united. We fervently appeal to all our brothers and sisters of Chandernagar, Yanon, Mahe, Karikal and Pondicherry, to the Tamilians, Malayalees, Andhras and Bengalees, who for centuries past have lived together irrespective of caste and creed without any internal strife – which is our greatest achievement --- not to sever our mutual connection but to show an example of unity transcending all compartmentalism or provincialism. Let us be united as before. When decisive steps have to be taken for the welfare of the country it is of no avail to be led by hasty moves and to propose rapid solutions from purely egoistic motives or idlesness of thought.

(Source: Complete works of Sri Aurobindo, vol 36 – autobiographical notes on integration of the French settlements)

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