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West Bengal is a state in eastern India. With Bangladesh, which lies on its eastern border, the state forms the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. To its northeast lie the states of Assam and Sikkim and the country Bhutan, and to its southwest, the state of Orissa. To the west it borders the state of Jharkhand and Bihar, and to the northwest, Nepal.
The region that is now West Bengal was a part of a number of empires and kingdoms during the past two millennia. The British East India Company cemented their hold on the region following the Battle of Plassey in 1757 CE, and the city of Kolkata, then Calcutta, served for many years as the capital of British India. A centre of the Indian independence movement through the early 20th century, Bengal was divided in 1947 into two separate entities, West Bengal - a state of India, and East Pakistan belonging to the new nation of Pakistan.
Following India's independence in 1947, West Bengal's economic and political theatres were dominated for many decades by intellectual Marxism, Naxalite movements and trade unionism. From late 1990s, economic rejuvenation led to a spurt in the state's economic and industrial growth. An agriculture-dependent state, West Bengal occupies only 2.7% of the India's land area, though it supports over 7.8% of Indian population, and is the most densely populated state in India. West Bengal has been ruled by the CPI(M)-led Left Front for three decades, making it the world's longest-running democratically-elected communist government. Many notable poets, writers, artists and performers are native to West Bengal.
Kazi Nazrul Islam
(May 25, 1899 – August 29, 1976) was a Bengali poet
who is best known for pioneering works in Bengali
expressing fierce rebellion against society, tradition, politics, injustice, intolerance and oppression. Popularly known as the Bidrohi Kobi
— Rebel Poet
— he is officially recognised as the national poet
and commemorated in India
Born in a poor Muslim family, Nazrul received religious education and worked as a muezzin at a local mosque. He later joined the Indian Army and served in World War I. Whilst stationed in Karachi, Nazrul learnt Persian and the art of writing, and was exposed to Hindu religion, music and literature. Working as a journalist, Nazrul assailed the British Raj and emphatically preached revolution with his poetic works the "Vidrohi" ("Rebel") and "Bhangar Gan" ("The Song of Destruction") and his publication the "Dhumketu" ("Comet"). Imprisoned by police, Nazrul wrote the "Rajbandir Jabanbandi" ("Deposition of a Political Prisoner"), intensifying his criticism of imperialism. Nazrul also condemned Muslim religious fundamentalism and explore the lives of downtrodden masses in India. He remained active in political organisations and literary, art and music societies.
27 September 1933), was a leading Bengali
poet, social worker and feminist. A part of the earliest batch of girls to attend school, she was the first woman honours graduate in the country, having passed her bachelor of arts degree with Sanskrit honours from Bethune College
of the University of Calcutta
in 1886. She was inclined towards literature from a young age and started composing poems at the age of eight. Her father, Chandi Charan Sen, a judge and a writer, was a leading member of the Brahmo Samaj. In 1894 she married Kedarnath Roy. Kamini Roy was a feminist in an age when even women’s education was a taboo. In an address delivered at a girls’ school in Calcutta she declared that the aim of women’s education was to contribute to their all-round development and fulfilment of their potential.
- ... that human sacrifices were once offered in Chitpur, now home to Kolkata’s latest railway passenger terminal?
- ...that a tiger-haunted jungle was cleared to make way for the wide grassy stretch of the Maidan park of Kolkata?
- ...that construction of ‘Tagore Castle’ in Pathuriaghata, a Calcutta neighbourhood, was modelled on that of an English castle, a departure in the way of building residences in India?