Cartier, John

Cartier, John (1733-1802) was the governor of the Council of fort william in Bengal from 1769 to 1772. He arrived in India as a writer in the east india company's service and was a factor and an assistant at Dhaka, whence he was expelled in 1756. At the fall of Calcutta he joined other fugitives at Fulta, served as a volunteer clive under clive in retaking it and was praised by the court of directors. After palashi he rose up the ladder rather rapidly, was made the chief of the Dhaka factory in 1761, became the Second in the Calcutta Council in 1767 and succeeded harryverelst as governor of the Council of Fort William in Bengal in 1769.

John Cartier's administration was marked by the Great famine of 1769-70, which is believed to be the most devastating event ever recorded in Bengal history. In terms of loss of lives and property and its long-term effects on Bengal society and economy, the famine was a real holocaust, which reduced the population by more than one-third. Cartier had failed to take timely and appropriate measures to mitigate the sufferings of the victims. Syed Muhammad reza khan, the naib diwan and naib nazim, had warned Cartier about the impending famine time and again, but the warning was not taken seriously. Company officials were allowed to go into haats and bazars for private trading and hoarding. Revenue collections were made ruthlessly without giving any relief to the raiyats, who were hard hit on account of the protracted drought and consequent crop failure. He had allowed the members of his council to retain their positions in the mofussil and live there to look after their own interests without attending council meetings and performing the duties expected of council members. John Cartier was recalled by the court of directors in early 1772 and replaced by Warren hastings. Edmund Burke, however, eulogized him for his government of Bengal, though a man-made famine was allowed to happen during his regime. He died in Kent on 25 January 1802. [Sirajul Islam]