West Bengal (/bɛnˈɡɔːl/; Bengali: Paschim Banga) is an Indian state, located in Eastern India on the Bay of Bengal. With over 91 million inhabitants (as of 2011), it is India's fourth-most populous state. It has an area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi). A part of the ethno-linguistic Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, it borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It also borders the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam. The state capital is Kolkata (Calcutta), the seventh-largest city in India. As for geography, West Bengal includes the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region, and the coastal Sundarbans. The main ethnic group are the Bengalis, with Bengali Hindus forming the demographic majority.
The area's early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. Ancient Bengal was the site of several major Janapadas (kingdoms), while the earliest cities date back to the Vedic period. The region was part of several ancient pan-Indian empires, including the Mauryans and Guptas. It was also a bastion of regional kingdoms. The citadel of Gauda served as the capital of the Gauda Kingdom, the Buddhist Pala Empire (eighth to 11th century) and Hindu Sena Empire (11th–12th century). From the 13th century onward, the region was ruled by several sultans, powerful Hindu states, and Baro-Bhuyan landlords, until the beginning of British rule in the 18th century. The British East India Company cemented their hold on the region following the Battle of Plassey in 1757, and Calcutta served for many years as the capital of British India. The early and prolonged exposure to British administration resulted in an expansion of Western education, culminating in developments in science, institutional education, and social reforms in the region, including what became known as the Bengali Renaissance. A hotbed of the Indian independence movement through the early 20th century, Bengal was divided during India's independence in 1947 along religious lines into two separate entities: West Bengal, a state of India, and East Bengal, a province of Pakistan which later became independent Bangladesh. Between 1977 and 2011 the state was administered by the world's longest elected Communist government.
The economy of West Bengal is the sixth-largest state economy in India with ₹10.49 lakh crore (US$150 billion) in gross domestic product and a per capita GDP of ₹108,000 (US$1,500). The state's cultural heritage, besides varied folk traditions, includes authors in literature, such as Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Kolkata is known as the "cultural capital of India". West Bengal is also known for its enthusiasm for the sport of association football, as well as cricket.
Location of West Bengal in India
|Established||26 January 1950|
|• Body||Government of West Bengal|
|• Governor||Keshari Nath Tripathi|
|• Chief Minister||Mamata Banerjee (AITC)|
|• Legislature||Legislative Assembly (295)|
|• High Court||Calcutta High Court|
|• Total||88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi)|
|• Density||1,029/km2 (2,670/sq mi)|
|• Total||₹10.49 lakh crore (US$150 billion)|
|• Per capita||₹108,372 (US$1,500)|
|• Additional official||Nepali in two sub-divisions of Darjeeling|
|Time zone||UTC+05:30 (IST)|
|ISO 3166 code||IN-WB|
|HDI (2017)||0.637 (medium) · 21st|
|Sex ratio (2011)||950 ♀/1000 ♂|
|^* 294 elected, 1 nominated|
The origin of the name Bengal (Bangla and Bongo in Bengali) is unknown. One theory suggests that the word derives from "Bang", a Dravidian tribe that settled the region around 1000 BCE. The Bengali word Bongo might have been derived from the ancient kingdom of Vanga (or Banga). Although some early Sanskrit literature mentions the name Vanga, the region's early history is obscure.
At the end of British rule over the Indian subcontinent, the Bengal region was partitioned in 1947 along religious lines into east and west. The eastern part came to be known be as East Pakistan, the eastern wing of newly born Pakistan and the western part came to be known as West Bengal, which continued as an Indian state.
In 2011 the Government of West Bengal proposed a change in the official name of the state to PaschimBanga (Bengali: পশ্চিমবঙ্গ Pôshchimbônggô). This is the native name of the state, literally meaning western Bengal in the native Bengali language. In August 2016 the West Bengal Legislative Assembly passed another resolution to change the name of West Bengal to "Bengal" in English, and "Bangla" in Bengali. Despite the Trinamool Congress government's efforts to forge a consensus on the name change resolution, the Indian National Congress, the Left Front, and the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed the resolution. However, the central government has turned down the proposal stating that the state should have one single name for all languages instead of three and also the name should not be the same as that of any other territory (pointing out that the name 'Bangla' may create confusion with neighboring Bangladesh).
Stone Age tools dating back 20,000 years have been excavated in the state, showing human occupation 8,000 years earlier than scholars had earlier thought. The region was a part of the Vanga Kingdom, according to the Indian epic Mahabharata. Several Vedic realms were present in the Bengal region, including Vanga, Rarh, Pundravardhana, and the Suhma Kingdom. One of the earliest foreign references to Bengal is a mention by the Ancient Greeks around 100 BCE of a land named Gangaridai, which was located at the mouths of the Ganges. Bengal had overseas trade relations with Suvarnabhumi (Burma, Lower Thailand, the Lower Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra). According to the Sri Lankan chronicle Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya (c. 543 – c. 505 BCE), a Vanga Kingdom prince, conquered Lanka (modern-day Sri Lanka) and gave the name Sinhala Kingdom to the country.
The kingdom of Magadha was formed in the 7th century BCE, consisting of the regions now comprising Bihar and Bengal. It was one of the four main kingdoms of India at the time of the lives of Mahavira, founder of Jainism, and Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism. It consisted of several janapadas, or kingdoms. Under Ashoka, the Maurya Empire of Magadha in the 3rd century BCE extended over nearly all of South Asia, including Afghanistan and parts of Balochistan. From the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE, the kingdom of Magadha served as the seat of the Gupta Empire.
Two kingdoms – Vanga or Samatata, and Gauda – are mentioned in some texts to have appeared after the end of the Gupta Empire although details of their ascendancy are uncertain. The first recorded independent king of Bengal was Shashanka, who reigned in the early 7th century. Shashanka is often recorded in Buddhist annals as an intolerant Hindu ruler who is noted for his persecution of the Buddhists. Shashanka murdered Rajyavardhana, the Buddhist king of Thanesar, and is noted for destroying the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, and replacing Buddha statues with Shiva lingams. After a period of anarchy,:36 the Pala dynasty ruled the region for four hundred years starting in the 8th century. It was followed by a shorter reign of the Hindu Sena dynasty.
Some areas of Bengal were invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty between 1021 and 1023. Islam made its first appearance in Bengal during the 12th century when Sufi missionaries arrived. Later, occasional Muslim raiders reinforced the process of conversion by building mosques, madrasas, and khanqahs. Between 1202 and 1206 Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, a military commander from the Delhi Sultanate, overran Bihar and Bengal as far east as Rangpur, Bogra, and the Brahmaputra River. Although he failed to bring Bengal under his control, the expedition defeated Lakshman Sen, whose two sons moved to a place then called Vikramapur (present-day Munshiganj District), where their diminished dominion lasted until the late 13th century.
Subsequent Muslim conquests helped spread Islam throughout the region. The region was ruled by dynasties of the Bengal Sultanate and feudal lords under the Delhi Sultanate for the next few hundred years. The Bengal Sultanate was interrupted for a period of twenty years by a Hindu uprising under Raja Ganesha. In the 16th century, Mughal general Islam Khan conquered Bengal. Administration by governors appointed by the court of the Mughal Empire gave way to semi-independence under the Nawabs of Murshidabad, who nominally respected the sovereignty of the Mughals in Delhi. Several independent Hindu states were established in Bengal during the Mughal period, including those of Pratapaditya of Jessore District and Raja Sitaram Ray of Bardhaman. The Koch dynasty in northern Bengal flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries; it weathered the Mughals and survived until the advent of the British colonial era.
Several European traders reached this area late in the 15th century. The British East India Company defeated Siraj ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab, in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The company gained the right to collect revenue in Bengal subah (province) in 1765 with the signing of the treaty between the East India company and the Mughal emperor following the Battle of Buxar in 1764. The Bengal Presidency was established in 1765; it later incorporated all British-controlled territory north of the Central Provinces (now Madhya Pradesh), from the mouths of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra to the Himalayas and the Punjab. The Bengal famine of 1770 claimed millions of lives due to tax policies enacted by the British company. Calcutta, the headquarters of the East India company, was named in 1773 as the capital of British-held territories in India. The failed Indian rebellion of 1857 started near Calcutta and resulted in a transfer of authority to the British Crown, administered by the Viceroy of India.
The Bengal Renaissance and the Brahmo Samaj socio-cultural reform movements significantly influenced the cultural and economic life of Bengal. Between 1905 and 1911 an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones. Bengal suffered from the Great Bengal famine in 1943, which claimed 3 million lives during World War II. Bengalis played a major role in the Indian independence movement, in which revolutionary groups such as Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar were dominant. Armed attempts against the British Raj from Bengal reached a climax when news of Subhas Chandra Bose leading the Indian National Army against the British reached Bengal. The Indian National Army was subsequently routed by the British.
When India gained independence in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines. The western part went to the Dominion of India (and was named West Bengal), while the eastern part went to the Dominion of Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan in 1956). The latter became the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971. In 1950 the Princely State of Cooch Behar merged with West Bengal. In 1955 the former French enclave of Chandannagar, which had passed into Indian control after 1950, was integrated into West Bengal; portions of Bihar were also subsequently merged with West Bengal. Both West and East Bengal experienced large influxes of refugees during and after partition in 1947. Refugee resettlement and related issues continued to play a significant role in the politics and socio-economic condition of the state.
During the 1970s and 1980s, severe power shortages, strikes, and a violent Naxalite movement damaged much of the state's infrastructure, leading to a period of economic stagnation. The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 resulted in the influx of millions of refugees to West Bengal, causing significant strains on its infrastructure. The 1974 smallpox epidemic killed thousands. West Bengal politics underwent a major change when the Left Front won the 1977 assembly election, defeating the incumbent Indian National Congress. The Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), governed the state for the next three decades.
The state's economic recovery gathered momentum after economic liberalisations were introduced in the mid-1990s by the central government. This was aided by the advent of information technology and IT-enabled services. Starting in the mid-2000s, armed activists conducted minor terrorist attacks in some parts of the state while clashes with the administration took place at several controversial locations over the issue of industrial land acquisition, which became a decisive reason behind the defeat of the ruling Left Front government in the 2011 assembly election. Although the economy was severely damaged during the unrest in the 1970s, the state has managed to revive its economy, steadily throughout the years. The state has shown improvement regarding bandhs (strikes) and educational infrastructure. Significant strides have been made in reducing unemployment. Though the state suffers from substandard healthcare services, a lack of socio-economic development, poor infrastructure, unemployment, and civil violence. In 2006 the state's healthcare system was severely criticized in the aftermath of the West Bengal blood test kit scam.
West Bengal is on the eastern bottleneck of India, stretching from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. The state has a total area of 88,752 square kilometres (34,267 sq mi). The Darjeeling Himalayan hill region in the northern extreme of the state is a part of the eastern Himalayas mountain range. In this region is Sandakfu, which, at 3,636 m (11,929 ft), is the highest peak in the state. The narrow Terai region separates the hills from the North Bengal plains, which in turn transitions into the Ganges delta towards the south. The Rarh region intervenes between the Ganges delta in the east and the western plateau and high lands. A small coastal region is in the extreme south, while the Sundarbans mangrove forests form a geographical landmark at the Ganges delta.
The main river in West Bengal is the Ganges, which divides into two branches. One branch enters Bangladesh as the Padma, or Pôdda, while the other flows through West Bengal as the Bhagirathi River and Hooghly River. The Farakka barrage over the Ganges feeds the Hooghly branch of the river by a feeder canal, and its water flow management has been a source of lingering dispute between India and Bangladesh. The Teesta, Torsa, Jaldhaka, and Mahananda rivers are in the northern hilly region. The western plateau region has rivers such as the Damodar, Ajay, and Kangsabati. The Ganges delta and the Sundarbans area have numerous rivers and creeks. Pollution of the Ganges from indiscriminate waste dumped into the river is a major problem. Damodar, another tributary of the Ganges and once known as the "Sorrow of Bengal" (due to its frequent floods), has several dams under the Damodar Valley Project. At least nine districts in the state suffer from arsenic contamination of groundwater, and as of 2017, an estimated 1.04 crore people were afflicted by arsenic poisioning
West Bengal's climate varies from tropical savanna in the southern portions to humid subtropical in the north. The main seasons are summer, the rainy season, a short autumn, and winter. While the summer in the delta region is noted for excessive humidity, the western highlands experience a dry summer like northern India, with the highest daytime temperature ranging from 38 °C (100 °F) to 45 °C (113 °F). At night, a cool southerly breeze carries moisture from the Bay of Bengal. In early summer, brief squalls and thunderstorms known as Kalbaisakhi, or Nor'westers, often occur. West Bengal receives the Bay of Bengal branch of the Indian Ocean monsoon that moves in a southeast to northwest direction. Monsoons bring rain to the whole state from June to September. Heavy rainfall of above 250 centimetres (98 in) is observed in the Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, and Cooch Behar district. During the arrival of the monsoons, low pressure in the Bay of Bengal region often leads to the formation of storms in the coastal areas. Winter (December–January) is mild over the plains with average minimum temperatures of 15 °C (59 °F). A cold and dry northern wind blows in the winter, substantially lowering the humidity level. The Darjeeling Himalayan Hill region experiences a harsh winter, with occasional snowfall.
As per the India State of Forest Report 2017, recorded forest area in the state is 16,847 km2 (6,505 sq mi), while in 2013, forest area was 16,805 km2 (6,488 sq mi), which was 18.93% of the state's geographical area, compared to the then national average of 21.23%. Reserves and protected and unclassed forests constitute 59.4%, 31.8%, and 8.9%, respectively, of forested areas, as of 2009. Part of the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans is located in southern West Bengal.
|State animal||Fishing cat|
|State bird||White-throated kingfisher|
|State flower||Night-flowering jasmine|
|State tree||Devil tree|
From a phytogeographic viewpoint, the southern part of West Bengal can be divided into two regions: the Gangetic plain and the littoral mangrove forests of the Sundarbans. The alluvial soil of the Gangetic plain, combined with favourable rainfall, makes this region especially fertile. Much of the vegetation of the western part of the state has similar species composition with the plants of the Chota Nagpur plateau in the adjoining state of Jharkhand. The predominant commercial tree species is Shorea robusta, commonly known as the sal tree. The coastal region of Purba Medinipur exhibits coastal vegetation; the predominant tree is the Casuarina. A notable tree from the Sundarbans is the ubiquitous sundari (Heritiera fomes), from which the forest gets its name.
The distribution of vegetation in northern West Bengal is dictated by elevation and precipitation. For example, the foothills of the Himalayas, the Dooars, are densely wooded with sal and other tropical evergreen trees. Above an elevation of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), the forest becomes predominantly subtropical. In Darjeeling, which is above 1,500 metres (4,900 ft), temperate forest trees such as oaks, conifers, and rhododendrons predominate.
3.26% of the geographical area of West Bengal is protected land, comprising fifteen wildlife sanctuaries and five national parks – Sundarbans National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Gorumara National Park, Neora Valley National Park, and Singalila National Park. Extant wildlife include Indian rhinoceros, Indian elephant, deer, leopard, gaur, tiger, and crocodiles, as well as many bird species. Migratory birds come to the state during the winter. The high-altitude forests of Singalila National Park shelter barking deer, red panda, chinkara, takin, serow, pangolin, minivet, and kalij pheasants. The Sundarbans are noted for a reserve project devoted to conserving the endangered Bengal tiger although the forest hosts many other endangered species such as the Gangetic dolphin, river terrapin, and estuarine crocodile. The mangrove forest also acts as a natural fish nursery, supporting coastal fishes along the Bay of Bengal. Recognising its special conservation value, the Sundarbans area has been declared a Biosphere Reserve.
West Bengal is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy, a feature the state shares with other Indian states. Universal suffrage is granted to residents. There are two branches of government. The legislature, the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, consists of elected members and special office bearers such as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, who are elected by the members. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker in the Speaker's absence. The judiciary is composed of the Calcutta High Court and a system of lower courts. Executive authority is vested in the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister although the titular head of government is the Governor. The Governor is the head of state appointed by the President of India. The leader of the party or coalition with a majority in the Legislative Assembly is appointed as the Chief Minister by the Governor, and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. The Council of Ministers reports to the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly is unicameral with 295 Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs, including one nominated from the Anglo-Indian community. Terms of office run for five years, unless the Assembly is dissolved prior to the completion of the term. Auxiliary authorities known as panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held, govern local affairs. The state contributes 42 seats to the Lok Sabha and 16 seats to the Rajya Sabha of the Indian Parliament.
The main players in the politics of the state are the All India Trinamool Congress, the Indian National Congress, and the Left Front alliance (led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M)). Following the West Bengal State Assembly Election in 2011, the All India Trinamool Congress and Indian National Congress coalition under Mamata Banerjee of the All India Trinamool Congress was elected to power (getting 225 seats in the legislature). Prior to this, West Bengal was ruled by the Left Front for 34 years (1977–2011), making it the world's longest-running democratically elected communist government. Banerjee was re-elected as Chief Minister in the 2016 election in which Trinamool Congress won an absolute majority.
|District||Population||Growth rate||Sex ratio||Literacy||Density per square Kilometer|
|North 24 Parganas||10,009,781||12.04||955||84.06||2445|
|South 24 Parganas||8,161,961||18.17||956||77.51||819|
Each district is governed by a district collector or district magistrate, appointed by either the Indian Administrative Service or the West Bengal Civil Service. Each district is subdivided into sub-divisions, governed by a sub-divisional magistrate, and again into blocks. Blocks consists of panchayats (village councils) and town municipalities.
The capital and largest city of the state is Kolkata – the third-largest urban agglomeration and the seventh-largest city in India. Asansol is the second-largest city and urban agglomeration in West Bengal after Kolkata. Siliguri is an economically important city, strategically located in the northeastern Siliguri Corridor (Chicken's Neck) of India. Other cities and towns in West Bengal with 2011 populations over 250,000 are Durgapur, Bardhaman, English Bazar, Baharampur, Habra, Kharagpur, and Shantipur.
|Net State Domestic Product at Factor Cost at Current Prices (2004–05 Base)|
|Year||Net State Domestic Product|
As of 2015, West Bengal has the sixth-highest GSDP in India. GSDP at current prices (base 2004–2005) has increased from Rs 2,08,656 crores in 2004–05 to Rs 8,00,868 crores in 2014–2015, reaching Rs 10,21,000 crores in 2017-18. GSDP percent growth at current prices has varied from a low of 10.3% in 2010–2011 to a high of 17.11% in 2013–2014. The growth rate was 13.35% in 2014–2015. The state's per capita income has lagged the all India average for over two decades. As of 2014–2015, per capita NSDP at current prices was Rs 78,903. Per capita NSDP growth rate at current prices has varied from 9.4% in 2010–2011 to a high of 16.15% in 2013–2014. The growth rate was 12.62% in 2014–2015.
In 2015–2016, percentage share of Gross Value Added (GVA) at factor cost by Economic Activity at constant price (base year 2011–2012) was Agriculture-Forestry and Fishery – 4.84%, Industry 18.51% and Services 66.65%. It has been observed that there has been a slow but steady decline in the percentage share of industry and agriculture over the years. Agriculture is the leading economic sector in West Bengal. Rice is the state's principal food crop. Rice, potato, jute, sugarcane, and wheat are the top five crops of the state.:14 Tea is produced commercially in northern districts; the region is well known for Darjeeling and other high quality teas.:14 State industries are localised in the Kolkata region, the mineral-rich western highlands, and the Haldia port region. The Durgapur–Asansol colliery belt is home to a number of steel plants. Important manufacturing industries are engineering products, electronics, electrical equipment, cables, steel, leather, textiles, jewellery, frigates, automobiles, railway coaches, and wagons. The Durgapur centre has established a number of industries in the areas of tea, sugar, chemicals, and fertilisers. Natural resources like tea and jute in and nearby parts has made West Bengal a major centre for the jute and tea industries.
Years after independence, West Bengal is dependent on the central government for help in meeting its demands for food; food production remained stagnant, and the Indian green revolution bypassed the state. However, there has been a significant increase in food production since the 1980s, and the state now has a surplus of grains. The state's share of total industrial output in India was 9.8% in 1980–1981, declining to 5% by 1997–1998. In contrast, the service sector has grown at a rate higher than the national rate. The state's total financial debt stood at ₹1,918,350 million (US$27 billion) as of 2011.
The economy of West Bengal has witnessed many twists and turns. The agricultural sector in particular rose to 8.33% in 2010–11 before tumbling down to −4.01 % in 2012–13. Many major industries such as the Uttarpara Hindustan Motors car manufacturing unit, the jute industry, and the Haldia Petrochemicals unit experienced shutdowns in 2014. In the same year, plans for a 30,000 crore Jindal Steel project was mothballed. The tea industry of West Bengal has also witnessed shutdowns due to financial and political reasons. The tourism industry of West Bengal took a hit in 2017 due to the Gorkhaland agitation.
However, over the years due to effective changes in the stance towards industrialisation, ease of doing business has improved in West Bengal. Steps are being taken to remedy this situation by promoting West Bengal as an investment destination. A leather complex has been built in Kolkata, smart cities are being planned closed to Kolkata and major roadway projects are in the offing to revive the economy. West Bengal has been able to attract 2% of the foreign direct investment in the last decade.
As of 2011, the total length of surface road in West Bengal is over 92,023 kilometres (57,180 miles);:18 national highways comprise 2,578 km (1,602 mi) and state highways 2,393 km (1,487 mi).:18 As of 2006, the road density of the state is 103.69 kilometres per square kilometre (166.87 miles per square mile), higher than the national average of 74.7 km/km2 (120.2 mi/sq mi).
As of 2011, the total railway route length is around 4,481 km (2,784 mi).:20 Kolkata is the headquarters of three zones of the Indian Railways – Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway, and the Kolkata Metro, which is the newly formed 17th zone of the Indian Railways. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) serves the northern parts of the state. The Kolkata metro is the country's first underground railway. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, part of NFR, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at Dum Dum, Kolkata, is the state's biggest airport. Bagdogra Airport near Siliguri is a customs airport that offers international service to Bhutan and Thailand, besides regular domestic service. Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport, India's first private sector airport, serves the twin cities of Asansol-Durgapur at Andal, Bardhaman.
Kolkata is a major river port in eastern India. The Kolkata Port Trust manages the Kolkata and the Haldia docks. There is passenger service to Port Blair on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and cargo ship service to ports in India and abroad, operated by the Shipping Corporation of India. Ferries are a principal mode of transport in the southern part of the state, especially in the Sundarbans area. Kolkata is the only city in India to have trams as a mode of transport, and these are operated by the Calcutta Tramways Company.
Several government-owned organisations operate bus services in the state, including the Calcutta State Transport Corporation, the North Bengal State Transport Corporation, the South Bengal State Transport Corporation, the West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation, and the Calcutta Tramways Company. There are also private bus companies. The railway system is a nationalised service without any private investment. Hired forms of transport include metered taxis and auto rickshaws, which often ply specific routes in cities. In most of the state, cycle rickshaws, and in Kolkata, hand-pulled rickshaws and electric rickshaws, are used for short-distance travel.
|Source:Census of India|
According to the provisional results of the 2011 national census, West Bengal is the fourth-most-populous state in India with a population of 91,347,736 (7.55% of India's population). Bengalis, consisting of Bengali Hindus, Bengali Muslims, Bengali Christians and a few Bengali Buddhists, comprise the majority of the population. The Marwari, Maithil and Bhojpuri non-Bengali minorities are scattered throughout the state; various indigenous ethnic Buddhist communities such as the Sherpas, Bhutias, Lepchas, Tamangs, Yolmos, and ethnic Tibetans can be found in the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region. Native Magahi speakers are found in Malda district. Surjapuri; a language that is considered to be a mix of Maithili and Bengali, is spoken across northern parts of the state. The Darjeeling district also has a large Nepali immigrant population, making Nepali a widely spoken language in this region. West Bengal is also home to indigenous tribal Adivasis such as Santhal, Munda, Oraon, Bhumij, Lodha, Kol, and Toto tribe. There are a small number of ethnic minorities primarily in the state capital, including Chinese, Tamils, Maharashtrians, Odias, Assamese, Malayalis, Gujaratis, Anglo-Indians, Armenians, Jews, Punjabis, and Parsis. India's sole Chinatown is in eastern Kolkata.
As per West Bengal government the official languages are Bengali, Hindi, Kamtapuri, Kurmali, Odia, Punjabi, Rajbanshi, Santali and Urdu. Nepali also has an official status in the three subdivisions of Darjeeling district. As of 2001, in decreasing order of number of speakers, the languages of the state are: Bengali, Hindi, Santali, Urdu, and Nepali.
West Bengal is religiously diverse, with regional cultural and religious specificities. Although Hindus are the predominant community, the state has a large minority Muslim population. Christians, Buddhists, and others form a minuscule part of the population. As of 2011, Hinduism is the largest religion, with adherents representing 70.54% of the total population, while Muslims comprise 27.01% of the total population, being the second-largest community as well as the largest minority group. Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, and other religions make up the remainder. Buddhism remains a prominent religion in the Himalayan region of the Darjeeling hills, and almost the entirety of West Bengal's Buddhist population are from this region.
The state contributes 7.8% of India's population. The Hindu population of West Bengal is 64,385,546 while the Muslim population is 24,654,825, as per the 2011 census. The state's 2001–2011 decennial population growth rate was 13.93%, lower than the 1991–2001 growth rate of 17.8%, and also lower than the national rate of 17.64%. The gender ratio is 947 females per 1000 males. As of 2011, West Bengal had a population density of 1,029 inhabitants per square kilometre (2,670/sq mi) making it the second-most densely populated state in India, after Bihar.
The literacy rate is 77.08%, higher than the national rate of 74.04%. Data of 2010–2014 showed the life expectancy in the state was 70.2 years, higher than the national value of 67.9. The proportion of people living below the poverty line in 2013 was 19.98%, declining from 31.8% a decade ago. Scheduled castes and tribes form 28.6% and 5.8% of the population, respectively, in rural areas, and 19.9% and 1.5%, respectively, in urban areas.
In September 2017, West Bengal achieved 100% electrification, after some remote villages in the Sunderbans became the latest to be electrified.
As of September 2017, out of 125 towns and cities in Bengal, 76 have achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. All towns in the districts of Nadia, North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Burdwan and East Midnapore are ODF zones, with Nadia becoming the first ODF district in the state in April 2015.
A study conducted in three districts of West Bengal found that accessing private health services to treat illness had a catastrophic impact on households. This indicates the importance of public provision of health services to mitigate against poverty and the impact of illness on poor households.
The latest Sample Registration System (SRS) statistical report shows that West Bengal has the lowest fertility rate among Indian states. West Bengal's total fertility rate was 1.6, way below Bihar's 3.4, which is the highest in the entire country. Bengal's TFR of 1.6 roughly equals that of Canada.
The Bengali language boasts a rich literary heritage that it shares with neighbouring Bangladesh. West Bengal has a long tradition of folk literature, evidenced by the Charyapada, a collection of Buddhist mystic songs dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries; Mangalkavya, a collection of Hindu narrative poetry composed around the 13th century; Shreekrishna Kirtana, a pastoral Vaishnava drama in verse composed by Boru Chandidas; Thakurmar Jhuli, a collection of Bengali folk and fairy tales compiled by Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder; and stories of Gopal Bhar, a court jester in medieval Bengal. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Bengali literature was modernised in the works of authors such as Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, whose innovative works marked a departure from the traditional verse-oriented writings prevalent in that period; Michael Madhusudan Dutt, a pioneer in Bengali drama who introduced the use of blank verse; and Rabindranath Tagore, who reshaped Bengali literature and music. Indian art saw the introduction of Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Other notable figures include Kazi Nazrul Islam, whose compositions form the avant-garde genre of Nazrul Sangeet, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, whose works on contemporary social practices in Bengal are widely acclaimed, and Manik Bandyopadhyay, who is considered one of the leading lights of modern Bengali fiction. In modern times, Jibanananda Das has been acknowledged as "the premier poet of the post-Tagore era in India". Other writers include Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, best known for his work Pather Panchali; Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, well known for his portrayal of the lower strata of society; Manik Bandopadhyay, a pioneering novelist; and Ashapurna Devi, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Saradindu Bandopadhyay, Buddhadeb Guha, Mahashweta Devi, Samaresh Majumdar, Sanjeev Chattopadhyay, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Buddhadeb Basu, Joy Goswami, and Sunil Gangopadhyay.
A notable music tradition is the Baul music, practiced by the Bauls, a sect of mystic minstrels. Other folk music forms include Gombhira and Bhawaiya. Folk music in West Bengal is often accompanied by the ektara, a one-stringed instrument. Shyama Sangeet is a genre of devotional songs, praising the Hindu goddess Kali; kirtan is devotional group songs dedicated to the god Krishna. Like other states in northern India, West Bengal also has a heritage in North Indian classical music. "Rabindrasangeet", songs composed and set into tune by Rabindranath Tagore, and "Nazrul geeti" (by Kazi Nazrul Islam) are popular. Also prominent are Dwijendralal, Atulprasad and Rajanikanta's songs, and "adhunik" or modern music from films and other composers. From the early 1990s, there has been an emergence of new genres of music, including what has been called Bengali Jeebonmukhi Gaan (a modern genre based on realism). Bengali dance forms draw from folk traditions, especially those of the tribal groups, as well as the broader Indian dance traditions. Chhau dance of Purulia is a rare form of masked dance.
Cinema of West Bengal is mostly shot in studios in the Kolkata neighbourhood of Tollygunj, and the name "Tollywood" (similar to Hollywood and Bollywood) is derived from that name. The Bengali film industry is well known for its art films, and has produced acclaimed directors like Satyajit Ray who is widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century, Mrinal Sen whose films were known for its artistic depiction of social reality, Tapan Sinha who was one of the most prominent Indian film directors of his time, and Ritwik Ghatak. Some contemporary directors include veterans such as Buddhadev Dasgupta, Tarun Majumdar, Goutam Ghose, Aparna Sen, and Rituparno Ghosh, and a newer pool of directors such as Kaushik Ganguly and Srijit Mukherji.
There are significant examples of fine arts in Bengal from earlier times, including the terracotta art of Hindu temples and the Kalighat paintings. Bengal has been in the vanguard of modernism in fine arts. Abanindranath Tagore, called the father of modern Indian art, started the Bengal School of Art, one of whose goals was to promote the development of styles of art outside the European realist tradition that had been taught in art colleges under the British colonial administration. The movement had many adherents, including Gaganendranath Tagore, Ramkinkar Baij, Jamini Roy, and Rabindranath Tagore. After Indian Independence, important groups such as the Calcutta Group and the Society of Contemporary Artists were formed in Bengal and came to dominate the art scene in India.
The capital, Kolkata, was the workplace of several social reformers, including Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, and Swami Vivekananda. Their social reforms eventually led to a cultural atmosphere that made it possible for practices like sati, dowry, and caste-based discrimination, or untouchability, to be abolished. The region was also home to several religious teachers, such as Chaitanya, Ramakrishna, Prabhupada, and Paramahansa Yogananda.
Rice and fish are traditional favourite foods, leading to a saying in Bengali, machhe bhate bangali, that translates as "fish and rice make a Bengali". Bengal's vast repertoire of fish-based dishes includes hilsa preparations, a favourite among Bengalis. There are numerous ways of cooking fish depending on the fish's texture, size, fat content, and bones. Most of the people also consume eggs, chicken, mutton, and shrimp. Panta bhat (rice soaked overnight in water) with onion and green chili is a traditional dish consumed in rural areas, Common spices found in a Bengali kitchen are cumin, ajmoda (radhuni), bay leaf, mustard, ginger, green chillies, and turmeric. Sweets occupy an important place in the diet of Bengalis and at their social ceremonies. Bengalis make distinctive sweetmeats from milk products, including Rôshogolla, Chômchôm, Kalojam, and several kinds of sondesh. Pitha, a kind of sweet cake, bread, or dimsum, are specialties of the winter season. Sweets such as narkol-naru, til-naru, moa, and payesh are prepared during the festivals such as Lakshmi puja. Popular street foods include Aloor Chop, Beguni, Kati roll, biryani, and phuchka.
Bengali women commonly wear the sari, often distinctly designed according to local cultural customs. In urban areas, many women and men wear western attire. Among men, western dress has greater acceptance. Particularly on cultural occasions, men also wear traditional costumes such as the panjabi with dhuti while women wear salwar kameez or sari.
West Bengal produces several varieties of cotton and silk saris in the country. Handlooms are a popular way of livelihood to the rural population of the state. Every district has weaving "clusters", which are home to artisan communities, each specialising in specific varieties of handloom weaving. Notable handloom saris include tant, jamdani, garad, korial, baluchari, tussar, and muslin.
Durga Puja is the biggest, most popular and widely celebrated festival in West Bengal. The five-day-long colourful Hindu festival witnesses intense celebration across the state. Pandals are erected in various cities, towns and villages throughout West Bengal. The whole city of Kolkata undergoes a transformation during Durga Puja, as it is decked up in lighting decorations and thousands of colourful pandals are set up where effigies of goddess Durga and her four children are worshipped and displayed. The idols of the goddess as brought in from Kumortuli, where idol-makers work round the year fashioning the clay-models of the goddess. Since independence in 1947, Durga Puja has slowly changed into more of a glamorous carnival than a religious festival, where people across diverse religious and ethnic spectrum partake in the festivity. On Vijayadashami, the last day of the festival, the effigies are paraded through the streets with riotous pageantry before being dumped into the rivers.
Rath Yatra is a Hindu festival which celebrates Jagannath, a form of Krishna. It is celebrated with much fanfare in Kolkata as well as in rural Bengal. Images of Jagannath are set upon a chariot and pulled through the streets.
Other major festivals of West Bengal include Poila Baishakh the Bengali new year, Dolyatra or Holi the festival of lights, Poush Parbon, Kali Puja, Nabadwip Shakta Rash, Saraswati Puja, Deepaboli, Lakshmi Puja, Janmashtami, Jagaddhatri Puja, Vishwakarma Puja, Bhai Phonta, Rakhi Bandhan, Kalpataru Day, Shivratri, Ganesh Chathurthi, Maghotsav, Kartik Puja, Akshay Tritiya, Raas Yatra, Guru Purnima, Annapurna Puja, Charak Puja, Gajan, Buddha Purnima, Christmas, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, and Muharram. Rabindra Jayanti, Kolkata Book Fair, Kolkata Film Festival, and Nazrul Jayanti are important cultural events.
Christmas, called Bôŗodin (Great day) is perhaps the next major festival celebrated in Kolkata, after Durga Puja. Just like Durga Puja, Christmas in Kolkata is an occasion in which all communities and people across religions take part. The state tourism department organises the gala Christmas Festival every year in Park Street. The whole of Park Street is decked out in colourful lights, and food stalls sell cakes, chocolates, Chinese cuisines, momo, and various other items. Musical groups from Darjeeling and other states of North East India are invited by the state to perform choir recitals, carols, and jazz numbers. Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of Gautama Buddha, is one of the most important Hindu/Buddhist festivals and is celebrated with much gusto in the Darjeeling hills. On this day, processions begin at each of the various Buddhist monasteries, or gumpas, and congregate at the Mall, Chowrasta. The Lamas chant mantras and sound their bugles, and students as well as people from all communities carry the holy books or pustaks on their heads. Besides Buddha Purnima, Dashain, or Dusshera, Holi, Diwali, Losar, Namsoong or the Lepcha New Year, and Losoong are the other major festivals of the Darjeeling Himalayan region.
West Bengal schools are run by the state government or by private organisations, including religious institutions. Instruction is mainly in English or Bengali, though Urdu is also used, especially in Central Kolkata. The secondary schools are affiliated with the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), the National Institute of Open School (NIOS), West Bengal Board of Secondary Education or the West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education.
As of 2016 85% of children within the age group of 6 to 17 years attend school (86% do so in urban areas and 84% in rural areas).School attendance is almost universal among the age group of 6 to 14 years, and then drops to 70 percent at the age group 15 to 17 years. There is a gender disparity in school attendance in the age group 6–14 years, more girls than boys are attending school. In Bengal, 71 percent of women aged 15 to 49 years and 81 percent of men aged 15 to 49 years are literate. Only 14 percent of women aged 15 to 49 years in West Bengal have completed 12 or more years of schooling, compared with 22 percent of men. Twenty-two percent of women and 14 percent of men age 15 to 49 years have never been to school. Only 14 percent of women aged 15 to 49 years in West Bengal have completed 12 or more years of schooling, compared with 22% of men.
Some of the notable schools in the city are La Martiniere Calcutta, Calcutta Boys' School, St. James' School (Kolkata), St. Xavier's Collegiate School, and Loreto House, Loreto Convent, Asansol some of which rank amongst the best schools in the country. Many of the schools in Kolkata and Darjeeling are colonial-era establishments housed in buildings that are exemplars of neo-classical architecture. The schools of Darjeeling include St. Paul's, St. Joseph's North Point, Goethals Memorial School, and Dow Hill in Kurseong.
West Bengal has eighteen universities. Kolkata has played a pioneering role in the development of the modern education system in India. It was the gateway to the revolution of European education during the British Raj. Sir William Jones established the Asiatic Society in 1794 for promoting oriental studies. People such as Ram Mohan Roy, David Hare, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Alexander Duff and William Carey played leading roles in the setting up of modern schools and colleges in the city.
The University of Calcutta, the oldest public university in India, has 136 affiliated colleges. Fort William College was established in 1810. The Hindu College was established in 1817. The Lady Brabourne College was established in 1939. The Scottish Church College, which is the oldest Christian liberal arts college in South Asia, started its journey in 1830. In 1855 the Hindu College was renamed the Presidency College. In 2010 it was granted university status by the state government and was renamed Presidency University. Kazi Nazrul University was established in 2012. The University of Calcutta and Jadavpur University are prestigious technical universities. Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan is a central university and an institution of national importance.
Other higher education institutes of importance in West Bengal include St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (the first IIM), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, Indian Statistical Institute, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (the first IIT), Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur (the first IIEST), Indian Institute of Information Technology, Kalyani, National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, National Institute of Technical Teachers' Training and Research, Kolkata, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Kolkata, and West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. In 2003 the state government supported the creation of West Bengal University of Technology, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, West Bengal State University, and Gour Banga University.
Jadavpur University (Focus area – Mobile Computing and Communication and Nano-science), and the University of Calcutta (Modern Biology) are among two of the fifteen universities selected under the scheme "University with Potential for Excellence". University of Calcutta (Focus Area – Electro-Physiological and Neuro-imaging studies including mathematical modeling) has also been selected under the scheme Centre with Potential for Excellence in a Particular Area.
Besides these, the state is home to Kalyani University, The University of Burdwan, Vidyasagar University, and North Bengal University all well as established and nationally renowned to cover education needs at the district level and an Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata. Apart from this there is a Deemed university run by the Ramakrishna mission named Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University at Belur Math.
There are a number of research institutes in Kolkata. The Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science is the first research institute in Asia. C. V. Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery (Raman Effect) done in IACS. The Bose Institute, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, S. N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute Durgapur, Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibers, National Institute of Research on Jute and Allied Fibre Technology, Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani, and the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre are the most prominent.
Notable scholars who were born, worked, or studied in the geographic area of the state include physicists Satyendra Nath Bose, Meghnad Saha, and Jagadish Chandra Bose; chemist Prafulla Chandra Roy; statisticians Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis and Anil Kumar Gain; physician Upendranath Brahmachari; educator Ashutosh Mukherjee; and Nobel laureates Rabindranath Tagore, C. V. Raman, and Amartya Sen.
In 2005 West Bengal had 505 published newspapers, of which 389 were in Bengali. Ananda Bazar Patrika, published from Kolkata with 1,277,801 daily copies, has the largest circulation for a single-edition, regional language newspaper in India. Other major Bengali newspapers are Bartaman, Sangbad Pratidin, Aajkaal, Jago Bangla, Uttarbanga Sambad, and Ganashakti. Major English language newspapers include The Telegraph, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Statesman, The Indian Express, and Asian Age. Some prominent financial dailies such as The Economic Times, Financial Express, Business Line, and Business Standard are widely circulated. Vernacular newspapers such as those in Hindi, Nepali, Gujarati, Odia, Urdu, and Punjabi are also read by a select readership.
Doordarshan is the state-owned television broadcaster. Multi system operators provide a mix of Bengali, Nepali, Hindi, English, and international channels via cable. Bengali 24-hour television news channels include ABP Ananda, Tara Newz, Kolkata TV, News Time, 24 Ghanta, Mahuaa Khobor, CTVN Plus, Channel 10, and R Plus. All India Radio is a public radio station. Private FM stations are available only in cities like Kolkata, Siliguri, and Asansol. Vodafone, Airtel, BSNL, Jio, Reliance Communications, Uninor, Aircel, MTS India, Idea Cellular, and Tata DoCoMo are available cellular phone providers. Broadband internet is available in select towns and cities and is provided by the state-run BSNL and by other private companies. Dial-up access is provided throughout the state by BSNL and other providers.
Cricket and association football are popular sports in the state. West Bengal, unlike most other states of India, is noted for its passion and patronage of football. Kolkata is one of the major centres for football in India and houses top national clubs such as Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, East Bengal Club and Mohammedan Sporting Club.
West Bengal has several large stadiums. Eden Gardens was one of only two 100,000-seat cricket stadiums in the world; renovation before 2011 Cricket World Cup reduced the capacity to 66,000. The stadium is the home to various cricket teams such as the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Bengal cricket team, and the East Zone. The 1987 Cricket World Cup final was hosted in Eden Gardens. Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is the second-oldest cricket club in the world.
Salt Lake Stadium / Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK), is a multipurpose stadium in Kolkata, with a current capacity of 85,000. It is the largest stadium in India by seating capacity. Before its renovation in 2011, it was the second largest football stadium in the world, having a seating capacity of 120,000. It has hosted many national and international sporting events like SAF Games of 1987 and the 2011 FIFA friendly football match between Argentina and Venezuela featuring Lionel Messi. In 2008 Legendary German Goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn played his last farewell match on this ground. The stadium hosted the final match of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Notable sports persons from West Bengal include former Indian national cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, Pankaj Roy, Olympic tennis bronze medallist Leander Paes, and chess grand master Dibyendu Barua.
Historians believe that Bengal, the area comprising present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, was settled in about 1000 B.C. by Dravidian-speaking peoples who were later known as the Bang. Their homeland bore various titles that reflected earlier tribal names, such as Vanga, Banga, Bangala, Bangal, and Bengal.
Humans walked on Bengal's soil 20,000 years ago, archaeologists have found out, pushing the state's pre-history back by some 8,000 years.
General elections are due to be held in India between April and May 2019 to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. The elections can be held at an earlier date if the Council of Ministers recommends dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha to the President of India. However, the government has publicly announced that the elections will be held according to schedule.Legislative Assembly elections in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir are expected to be held simultaneously with the general elections.All India Trinamool Congress
The All India Trinamool Congress (abbreviated AITC, TMC or Trinamool Congress) is an Indian political party based in West Bengal. Founded on 1 January 1998, the party is led by its founder and current Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee. Prior to the 2009 general election it was the sixth largest party in the Lok Sabha with 19 seats; following the 2014 general election, it is currently the fourth largest party in the Lok Sabha with 34 seats.Bengal
Bengal (; Bengali: বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit. Bānglā/Bôngô Bengali pronunciation: [bɔŋgo]) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Geographically, it is made up by the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system, the largest such formation in the world; along with mountains in its north bordering the Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan and east bordering Burma.
Politically, Bengal is currently divided between Bangladesh (which covers two-thirds of the region) and the Indian territories of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley (altogether cover the remaining one-third). In 2011, the population of Bengal was estimated to be 250 million, making it one of the most densely populated regions in the world. Among them, an estimated 160 million people live in Bangladesh and 91.3 million people live in West Bengal. The predominant ethnolinguistic group is the Bengali people, who speak the Indo-Aryan Bengali language. Bengali Muslims are the majority in Bangladesh and Bengali Hindus are the majority in West Bengal and Tripura, while Barak Valley contains almost equal proportions of Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims. Outside Bengal proper, the Indian territories of Jharkhand, Bihar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also home to significant communities of Bengalis.
Dense woodlands, including hilly rainforests, cover Bengal's northern and eastern areas; while an elevated forested plateau covers its central area. In the littoral southwest are the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and home of the Bengal tiger. In the coastal southeast lies Cox's Bazar, the longest beach in the world at 125 km (78 mi). The region has a monsoon climate, which the Bengali calendar divides into six seasons.
At times an independent regional empire, the Bengal was a leading power in Southeast Asia and later the Islamic East, with extensive trade networks. In antiquity, its kingdoms were known as seafaring nations. Bengal was known to the Greeks as Gangaridai, notable for mighty military power. It was described by Greek historians that Alexander the Great withdrew from the South east Asia, anticipating a counterattack from an alliance of Gangaridai. Later writers noted merchant shipping links between Bengal and Roman Egypt.
The Bengali Pala Empire was the last major Buddhist imperial power in the subcontinent, founded in 750 and becoming the dominant power in the northern Indian subcontinent by the 9th century, before being replaced by the Hindu Sena dynasty in the 12th century. Islam was introduced during the Pala Empire, through trade with the Abbasid Caliphate. The Islamic Bengal Sultanate, founded in 1352, was absorbed into the Mughal Empire in 1576. The Mughal Bengal Subah province became a major global exporter, a center of worldwide industries such as cotton textiles, silk, and shipbuilding.Bengal was conquered by the British East India Company in 1757 by Battle of Plassey and became the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj, which experienced deindustrialization under British rule. The Company increased agriculture tax rates from 10 percent to up to 50 causing the Great Bengal famine of 1770 and the deaths of 10 Million Bengalis.
Bengal played a major role in the Indian independence movement, in which revolutionary groups were dominant. Armed attempts to overthrow the British Raj began with the rebellion of Titumir, and reached a climax when Subhas Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army allied with Japan to fight against the British. A large number of Bengalis died in the independence struggle and many were exiled in Cellular Jail, located in Andaman.
The United Kingdom Cabinet Mission of 1946, split the region into India and Pakistan Popularly known as partition of Bengal (1947) opposed by the Prime Minister of Bengal Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and nationalist leader Sarat Chandra Bose. They campaigned for a united and independent nation-state of Bengal. The initiative failed owing to British diplomacy and communal conflict between Muslims and Hindus. Later Pakistan ruled East Bengal becoming the independent nation of Bangladesh by Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971.
Bengali culture has been particularly influential in the fields of literature, music, shipbuilding, art, architecture, sports, currency, commerce, politics and cuisine.Bengalis
Bengalis (বাঙালি [baŋgali]), also rendered as the Bengali people, Bangalis and Bangalees, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group native to the Bengal region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, presently divided between Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam's Barak Valley, who speak Bengali, a language from the Indo-Aryan language family. The term "Bangalee" is also used to denote people of Bangladesh as a nation.Bengalis are the third largest ethnic group in the world, after Han Chinese and Arabs. Apart from Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam's Barak Valley, Bengali-majority populations also reside in India's union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands as well as Bangladesh's Chittagong Hill Tracts (which was originally not a part of Bengal), with significant populations in Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Uttarakhand. The global Bengali diaspora (Bangladeshi diaspora and Indian Bengalis) have well-established communities in Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Middle East, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Italy.
They have four major religious subgroups: Bengali Muslims, Bengali Hindus, Bengali Christians, and Bengali Buddhists.Bishnupur, Bankura
Bishnupur is a town and a municipality in Bishnupur subdivision of Bankura District in the state of West Bengal, India. It is famous for its terracotta temples Malla Shree Krishna Raslilla and the Baluchari sarees.Communist Party of India (Marxist)
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (abbreviated CPI(M)) is a communist party in India. The party emerged from a split from the Communist Party of India in 1964. The CPI(M) was formed at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of India held in Calcutta from 31 October to 7 November 1964. As of 2018, CPI(M) is leading the state government in Kerala and having elected members in 8 state legislative assemblies including Kerala, West Bengal, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, and Rajasthan. It also leads the West Bengal Left Front. As of 2016, CPI(M) claimed to have 1,048,678 members. The highest body of the party is the Politburo.Damodar River
Damodar River (Pron: /ˈdæmoˌdaː/) is a river flowing across the Indian states of Jharkhand and West Bengal. Rich in mineral resources, the valley is home to large-scale mining and industrial activity. Earlier known as the Sorrow of Bengal because of its ravaging floods in the plains of West Bengal, the Damodar and its tributaries have been somewhat tamed with the construction of several dams. It is the most polluted river of India (by 2003).Darjeeling
Darjeeling is a town and a municipality in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Lesser Himalayas at an elevation of 6,700 ft (2,042.2 m). It is noted for its tea industry, its views of Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Darjeeling is the headquarters of the Darjeeling District which has a partially autonomous status within the state of West Bengal. It is also a popular tourist destination in India.
The recorded history of the town starts from the early 19th century when the colonial administration under the British Raj set up a sanatorium and a military depot in the region. Subsequently, extensive tea plantations were established in the region and tea growers developed hybrids of black tea and created new fermentation techniques. The resultant distinctive Darjeeling tea is internationally recognised and ranks among the most popular black teas in the world. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway connects the town with the plains and has some of the few steam locomotives still in service in India.
Darjeeling has several British-style public schools, which attract pupils from all over India and a few neighbouring countries. The varied culture of the town reflects its diverse demographic milieu comprising Lepcha, Khampa, Gorkha, Newar, Sherpa, Bhutia, Bengali and other mainland Indian ethno-linguistic groups. Darjeeling, alongside its neighbouring town of Kalimpong, was the centre of the Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s and the summer of 2017.Government of West Bengal
The Government of West Bengal also known as the State Government of West Bengal, or locally as State Government, is the supreme governing authority of the Indian state of West Bengal and its 23 districts. It consists of an executive, led by the Governor of West Bengal, a judiciary and a legislative.
Like other states in India, the head of state of West Bengal is the Governor, appointed by the President of India on the advice of the Central government. His or her post is largely ceremonial. The Chief Minister is the head of government and is vested with most of the executive powers. Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal, and houses the Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly). The secretariat is located in Howrah, in the Nabanna building. The Calcutta High Court is located in Kolkata, which has jurisdiction over the whole of West Bengal and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The present Legislative Assembly of West Bengal is unicameral, consisting of 295 Member of the Legislative Assembly (M.L.A) including one nominated from the Anglo-Indian community. Its term is 5 years, unless sooner dissolved.Hooghly River
The Hooghly River (Hugli; Anglicized alternatively spelled Hoogli or Hugli) or the Bhāgirathi-Hooghly, traditionally called 'Ganga', is an approximately 260-kilometre-long (160 mi) distributary of the Ganges River in West Bengal, India. The Ganges splits into the Padma and the Hooghly near Giria, Murshidabad. The Padma flows eastward into Bangladesh, whereas the Hooghly flows south through West Bengal. The river flows through the Rarh region, the lower deltaic districts of West Bengal, and eventually into the Bay of Bengal. The upper riparian zone of the river is called Bhagirathi while the lower riparian zone is called Hooghly. Calcutta and Hugli-Chinsura, the headquarter of Hooghly (district), is located on the banks of this river.Kolkata
Kolkata ([kolkata] (listen), also known as Calcutta , the official name until 2001) is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River approximately 75 kilometres (47 mi) west of the border with Bangladesh, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. The city is widely regarded as the "cultural capital" of India, and is also nicknamed the "City of Joy". According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the seventh most populous city; the city had a population of 4.5 million, while the suburb population brought the total to 14.1 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. Recent estimates of Kolkata Metropolitan Area's economy have ranged from $60 to $150 billion (GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity) making it third most-productive metropolitan area in India, after Mumbai and Delhi.In the late 17th century, the three villages that predated Calcutta were ruled by the Nawab of Bengal under Mughal suzerainty. After the Nawab granted the East India Company a trading licence in 1690, the area was developed by the Company into an increasingly fortified trading post. Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah occupied Calcutta in 1756, and the East India Company retook it the following year. In 1793 the East India company was strong enough to abolish Nizamat (local rule), and assumed full sovereignty of the region. Under the company rule, and later under the British Raj, Calcutta served as the capital of British-held territories in India until 1911, when its perceived geographical disadvantages, combined with growing nationalism in Bengal, led to a shift of the capital to New Delhi. Calcutta was the centre for the Indian independence movement; it remains a hotbed of contemporary state politics. Following Indian independence in 1947, Kolkata, which was once the centre of modern Indian education, science, culture, and politics, suffered several decades of economic stagnation.
As a nucleus of the 19th- and early 20th-century Bengal Renaissance and a religiously and ethnically diverse centre of culture in Bengal and India, Kolkata has local traditions in drama, art, film, theatre, and literature. Many people from Kolkata—among them several Nobel laureates—have contributed to the arts, the sciences, and other areas. Kolkata culture features idiosyncrasies that include distinctively close-knit neighbourhoods (paras) and freestyle intellectual exchanges (adda). West Bengal's share of the Bengali film industry is based in the city, which also hosts venerable cultural institutions of national importance, such as the Academy of Fine Arts, the Victoria Memorial, the Asiatic Society, the Indian Museum and the National Library of India. Among professional scientific institutions, Kolkata hosts the Agri Horticultural Society of India, the Geological Survey of India, the Botanical Survey of India, the Calcutta Mathematical Society, the Indian Science Congress Association, the Zoological Survey of India, the Institution of Engineers, the Anthropological Survey of India and the Indian Public Health Association. Though home to major cricketing venues and franchises, Kolkata differs from other Indian cities by giving importance to association football and other sports.List of Chief Ministers of West Bengal
The Chief Minister of West Bengal is the chief executive of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. In accordance with the Constitution of India, the governor is a state's de jure head, but de facto executive authority rests with the chief minister. Following elections to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, the state's governor usually invites the party (or coalition) with a majority of seats to form the government. The governor appoints the chief minister, whose council of ministers are collectively responsible to the assembly. Given the confidence of the assembly, the chief minister's term is for five years and is subject to no term limits.In August 1947, the British Indian province of Bengal was partitioned into the Pakistani province of East Bengal and the Indian state of West Bengal. Since then West Bengal has had eight chief ministers, starting with Prafulla Chandra Ghosh of the Indian National Congress (INC) party. His five-month stint as Prime Minister of West Bengal—as the office was known until January 1950—was succeeded by the 14-year reign of colleague Bidhan Chandra Roy, whose death in 1962 led to Prafulla Chandra Sen serving out the remainder of his term. A period of political instability followed—West Bengal witnessed three elections, four coalition governments and three stints of President's rule between 1967 and 1972—before Siddhartha Shankar Ray of the INC served a five-year term.The landslide victory of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front in the 1977 election began Jyoti Basu's 23-year continuous reign as chief minister. The length of his tenure was an all-India record until 2018, when he was surpassed by Sikkim's Pawan Kumar Chamling. Basu's successor Buddhadeb Bhattacharya continued Communist rule in West Bengal for another decade, when the Left Front was defeated in the 2011 election by the Trinamool Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Sworn in on 20 May 2011, Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee is West Bengal's incumbent chief minister, the first woman to hold the office. In September 2012 her party quit the UPA, and went on to contest the 2016 election alone, returning to power with an increased mandate.List of cities in India by population
The following tables are the list of cities in India by population. Often cities are bifurcated into multiple regions (municipalities) which results in creation of cities within cities which may figure in the list. The entire work of this article is based on Census of India, 2011, conducted by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, under Ministry of Home Affairs (India), Government of India.List of districts of West Bengal
The Himalayas lies in the north of the state and the Bay of Bengal is at the south. In between them, the river Ganga flows eastwards and its main distributary, the Hooghly River, flows south to reach the Bay of Bengal. The Siliguri Corridor, which connects North-East India with rest of the India, lies in the North Bengal region of the state. Geographically, West Bengal is divided into a variety of regions—Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, Terai and Dooars region, North Bengal plains, Rarh region, Western plateau and high lands, coastal plains, Sunderbans and the Ganga Delta.In 1947, when India gained independence, the state of West Bengal was formed with 14 districts, as per partition plan of the then Bengal province of British India. The former princely state Koch Bihar joined as a district in 1950, and the former French enclave Chandannagore joined as part of the Hooghly district in 1954. The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 led to addition of Purulia district to the state and to enlargement of West Dinajpur district. Later, larger districts such as West Dinajpur, 24 Parganas and Midnapore were bifurcated. Till 24 June 2014 West Bengal was divided into 19 districts.
West Bengal is now divided into 23 districts which includes the newly formed Alipurduar district (formed on 25 June 2014), Kalimpong district (formed on 14 February 2017), Jhargram district (formed on 4 April 2017), and the splitting of the former Bardhaman district into Purba Bardhaman district and Paschim Bardhaman district (formed on 7 April 2017). The districts are grouped into five divisions.Divisions are administered by Divisional Commissioners. Kolkata, the capital of the state, constitutes the Kolkata district. Other districts are further divided into administrative units such as subdivisions and blocks, administered by SDO and BDO, respectively. The Panchayati Raj has a three-tier structure in the state. The atomic unit is called a Gram Panchayat, which is the Panchayat organisation for a collection of villages. The block-level organisations are called Panchayat Samiti, and the district-level organisations are named Zilla Parishad.Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee (Bengali: [mɔmota bɔndoˈpaddʱˈae̯] also known as Didi, born 5 January 1955) is an Indian politician of Bengali descent who serves as the 8th and current Chief Minister of West Bengal since 2011. She is the first woman to hold the office. She founded the party All India Trinamool Congress (AITC or TMC) in 1998 after separating from the Indian National Congress, and became its chairperson. She is often referred to as Didi (meaning: elder sister in Hindi and Bengali).Banerjee has previously served twice as the Minister of Railways, the first woman to do so. She is also the first female Minister of Coal, and Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Youth Affairs, Sports, Women and Child Development in the cabinet of the Indian government. She rose to prominence after opposing the erstwhile land acquisition policies for industrialisation of the Communist government in West Bengal for Special Economic Zones at the cost of agriculturalists and farmers at Singur. In 2011 Banerjee pulled off a landslide victory for the TMC Congress alliance in West Bengal, defeating the 34-year-old Communist Party of India (Marxist)- led Left Front government, the world's longest-serving democratically elected communist government in the process.In 2012, Time magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Bloomberg Markets magazine listed her among the 50 most influential people in the world of finance in September 2012.West Bengal Board of Secondary Education
The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education is the West Bengal state government administered autonomous examining authority for the Standard 10 examination (or secondary school level examination) of West Bengal, India.West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education
West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education is the West Bengal state government administered autonomous examining authority for the Standard 12 examination (or Higher secondary level or Pre-university level examination) of West Bengal, India.West Bengal Legislative Assembly
The West Bengal Legislative Assembly is the unicameral legislature of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is Located in the B. B. D. Bagh area of Kolkata (Calcutta)-the Capital of the state. Members of the Legislative assembly are directly elected by the people. The legislative assembly comprises 295 Members of Legislative Assembly, which include 294 members directly elected from single-seat constituencies and one nominated from the Anglo-Indian community. Its term is five years, unless sooner dissolved.