(Last Updated on : 31-01-2009)
An energetic administrator and an imaginative political visionary, Joseph-François Dupleix was the greatest of all the Governor-Generals that were sent by the French Company to India. In the beginning he was appointed as the Governor of Chandranagar, a French possession in Bengal, however his reputation procured him in 1742 the appointment of governor general of all French establishments in India. Dupleix employed the full tide. "Maharaja Rajasri His Excellency Nawab Monsienr Clevlier Dupleix Bahadur Munzaffar Jang, Governor - General". Historians place him on a par with Clive and Warren Hastings.
Dupleix proficiently held that post for 12-13 years. He was a far-sighted statesman. He realized that the of Mughal empire was declining and thought of making the best use of the deplorable political condition of India to the great advantage of France and decided to found a French empire in India. With this intent in his mind he began to interfere in the quarrels of the Indian princes. He realized that the Indians did not favour the Europeans. He understood that if ever a French empire was to be founded in India, the English must be driven out.
Primitively Dupleix succeeded wonderfully in executing his plans. He lifted the French influence to an amazing height. In 1746, he sought the help of La Bourdonnais, the French governor of Mauritius, and captured Madras. In 1748, he gave a crushing defeat to Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Camatic, with just a handful of troops. In the same year he repelled the English attack when they tried to capture Pondicherry. He helped Muzaffar Jung to acquire the throne of the Carnatic and in return got various concessions from him. Besides presenting huge sums of money, Muzaffar Jung gave the French the towns of Divi and Masulipattam. Similarly Chanda Sahib granted some rights in his territories to the French. When Muzaffar Jung was killed in the battlefield, the French very ably raised Nasir Jung to the throne and got from him the rich territories of the Northern Circars. In this way Dupleix managed to spread the French territory in and around South India.
Dupleix has been successful in every step he took to increase the French empire till 1751 after which his hope came crashing down. The French suffered from naval weakness compared to the British supremacy over the seas. This ruined all the achievements gained by the French. Dupleix could neither get any help from home nor could he take his armies to the battlefield. His opponent Clive was also responsible for his failure. Clive with bravery and far-sightedness outwitted Dupleix and brought about his fall. Dupleix could get no help from home and there was too much interference in his plans. Thus, due to undue interference from above and non-cooperation of his officials he could do nothing.