Brief History of West Bengal

Bengal is a land of fish and rice. The principal crop is paddy, i.e, rice. The textile industry of Bengal was well renowned throughout the world. Even packaged tea of Bengal used to be exported to America—American war of independence started with the throwing of Bengal's packaged tea into the sea at Boston Port—in course of time America became independent under the leadership of George Washington.

Bengali merchant Chand Saodagar used to trade through the world with his fleet of seven ships. Similarly, the traders from Greece, China, Persia also would came to Bengal to trade with their commodities. Tamralipta was a prosperous port-city at that time. Message of Buddhism was carried to Sri Lanka from Tamralipta by the brother of Emperor Ashoka (according to Sinhalese, son) Mahinda accompanied by his sister Sanghamitra. Remnants of civilisations contemporary to Harappa have been discovered in Chandraketugarh near Kolkata.

Even nature has played a major role in Bengal's beautification. Among the nine coastal states of India only West Bengal is credited with the combination of three most beautiful ingredients of nature--sea, forest and hill. It has risen from Bay of Bengal and on top of it is mighty, towering white Himalayas.

Rajmahal hills of igneous rock is along the middle of the state. The king of mountains, Himalayas are stretching right across the north, with Darjeeling as its beauty spot, and the world of tea, timber and tourism at the foot-hills Duars. The world famous Royal Bengal Tiger of mangrove forest Sundarban is to the south. Further south is Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh and Assam are to the east and Bihar, Orissa & Nepal to the west of Bengal.

Bengal Renaissance is another pride of Bengal. Raja Rammohan Roy, Vidyasagar, Bankimchandra Chattopadhaya and above all Rabindranath Tagore brought out revolutionary changes in the thought and values of the Bengalis. Bande Mataram was composed by Sahitya Samrat (Emperor of literature) Bankimchandra in Bengali. National Anthem Jana-Gana-Mana was also composed in Bengali by Rabindranath.

Bengal has been divided several times. Bengal Province under British rule consisted of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, right up to Agra. In 1863, Agra was excluded and Assam was included. Further, in 1874, the new province Assam was formed. In 1905, Lord Curzon again partitioned Bengal and made a separate province with Assam and East Bengal, having its capital at Dhaka. Bengal had to be satisfied with part of Bihar and Orissa. The poet of Bengal Rabindranath stepped in to inspire the people against partition of Bengal— as a result the whole of India protested vehemently. Banga-bhanga, i.e, partition of Bengal was prevented.

However, the British became afraid of growing political consciousness of people of Bengal and decided to shift the capital of India from Kolkata to Delhi in 1911. On 1st of April, 1912, the capital was formally shifted to Delhi. Political consciousness reigns over Bengal all the time.

No sooner had the wounds of famine in 1943, of communal riot in 1946 healed, in 1947 again Bengal as a victim of Independence was further partitioned. Bengal became West Bengal and Kolkata its capital. Independent state Cooch Behar joined West Bengal in 1950 and French-occupied Chandannagar was added on October 2,1954. At a later stage, on Nov 1st 1956, as a result of an agitation based on language— Bengali-speaking parts of Purnia & Manbhum districts from Bihar were added to Bengal as district of Purulia.

At last the intelligentsia of Bengal have rendered an opinion to name West Bengal as Bangla. Kolkata remains the capital of Bangla. The language of Bangla is Banga Bhasa or Bangla or Bengali. It has originated from Magadhi, an Indo- Aryan Sanskrit derivative. Later on Bengali language was enriched with the words from other regional and foreign languages.

In the independence ear, instead of Congress, Communists(CPl-M) have had a strong hold over the masses. For a brief span of time CPI-ML (who broke away from CPI-M) shook up the traditional thoughts of the social system in late sixties. Finally, under the pragmatic leadership of Jyoti Basu, the CPI- M led Left Front assumed power. Basu retired in 2000, having set a record or retaining the position as Chief Minister of a state for long 24 years.

West Bengal ranks 5th in terms of population in India.


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