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West Bengal is the only major state in the country where girl students have outnumbered boys. A recent survey released by the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) shows that only three other states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Meghalaya have enrolled more girl students than boys. State-wise data released by the UDISE+ shows that of the 18,74,87,792 students enrolled from pre-primary to class XII in the academic session of 2019-20, there are 2,32,012 more girls students than boys. When the number of girl students is 94,89,902, the number of boy students is 92,57,890.
"For the last five years, it has been the continuous effort of the state government to promote and empower girls. The Kanyashree project has been massively successful. Most states in the country including the Central government have similar projects to educate and empower girls but West Bengal's success lies in the implementing mechanism. When the other states tried to reach the grassroots level through Panchayats, West Bengal is the only state where Kanyashree has been implemented through the administrative mechanism," a senior official from the state Women and Child Welfare Department said.
"As a result, the girl students have received their token of benefits through schools, Block Development Offices, and SDOs which has compelled the parents to enroll their girl child in schools. This social and administrative compulsion has allowed the girl students better access to schools and education," the official added.
A closer look into data will show us the number of dropouts in the case of boys is higher than the number of girls. The state has not only fared better in respect to the national average but the girl students have outshone the boy students. When in the secondary level the dropout rate is as high as 16.1 percent in West Bengal, the dropout rate is 13.8. Interestingly enough when 14.1 percent of boys have dropped out, the girl students dropout rate is only 13.6 percent. Surprisingly enough in the upper primary section that is between the class V to Class VII, the dropout rate in the state is nil when the national dropout rate is as high as 2.6 percent.
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Equally in the primary section that is between Class I to Class IV, the national dropout rate is 1.5 percent whereas in West Bengal the dropout rate is meager 0.6 percent with the boy students dropping out by 0.9 percent and the girl students opting out by 0.3 percent. The survey also shows that the state has been successful in bringing the minority community under the purview of its education system. In 2019-20, an overall 30.9 percent of minority students enrolled themselves in different state education facilities of which 32.4 percent are girls and 29.4 percent are boys.
This is far better than the national average where only 17.6 percent have enrolled themselves with 18.1 percent are girls and 17.1 percent are boys. So far as Muslim education is concerned, the state shares a better average than the national average. According to the data, 30.5 percent of students have enrolled themselves between pre-primary to higher secondary where 32 percent are girls and another 28.9 percent are boys. This is far better than the national average where only 13.9 percent of Muslim students have enrolled themselves. with 14.4 percent being girls and 13.4 percent are boys. (IANS/JC)
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has warned the state’s newly-elected Trinamool Congress government to “not force me to use my constitutional powers”, sparking a fresh artillery exchange with the ruling party. “He forgot his constitutional position by calling for a change in the state. His appeal was rejected, so old man is now obviously frustrated,” said Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, while reacting to the Governor’s warning.
Governor Dhankhar has been touring what he describes as ‘violence-hit areas’ since the Trinamool returned to power with a landslide. His visit to Sitalkuchi in Northern Bengal provoked an angry response from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who reminded Dhankhar of his constitutional obligations of working on the ‘aid and advice of the elected government.
The trip to Sitalkuchi, hit by poll-time violence where some voters were killed in firing by central forces, was followed by Dhankhar’s visit to makeshift camps in Assam where ‘victims of political violence in West Bengal were sheltered. His comment that this was a ‘blot on governance’ in West Bengal provoked accusations that Dhankhar was ‘less a Governor and more a BJP functionary.’
While some TMC leaders see in Dhankhar’s tour to reinforce the BJP narrative of ‘Bengal’s law and order being worse than Kashmir’ to keep up pressure on the Mamata government, others saw a more sinister design — building a case for President’s rule. “He is doing now what Dharma Vira did as Governor to bring down Bengal’s first non-Congress government in the late 1960s,” said analyst Sukhoranjan Dasgupta, author of books on West Bengal.
Dasgupta said the BJP is unable to accept the resounding defeat, evident from former Union minister Babul Supriyo’s comment that “Bengal has missed a huge chance by keeping BJP out of power.” Supriyo resigned as Union Minister to contest the state polls from Tollygunge but lost to Trinamool minister Aroop Biswas miserably. (IANS/JC)
With the Indian attention fixed on the Bengal elections, Home Minister Amit Shah in a recent visit to Assam declared an interest in naming a battalion of paramilitary forces as Narayani Sena – a tribute to the famed forces of the Cooch rulers and that training center would be named after Bir Chila Rai who was the commander in chief of the Cooch Behar kings. Shukladhwaj Singha or Chila Rai was the third son of Maharaja Viswa Singha and his mother Padmavati was from the Gaur. Chilarai was instrumental in giving Srimanta Sankardev protection and shelter, as well as marrying his niece Kamalapriya (alias Bhubaneswari). It was only due to his Royal Patronage that Sankaradev was able to establish the Ek Saran Naam Dharma in Assam and bring about his cultural renaissance. His son and grandson were responsible for breaking away of Koch Hajo from the parent kingdom.
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Shukladhwaj also named Chila Rai which means ‘Kite Prince’ was perhaps the greatest general that Indian history ignored. A master military strategist, he was the commander of elder brother and Koch king Naranarayan’s army. Chilarai’s valour ensured Koch supremacy over the Bhutia, Kachari kingdom (of Hadimba, now dimapur) and the Ahoms (though several battles were fought between the Koches and Ahoms with countable victories for both sides). In June 1563 the Koches under the command of Chilarai managed to occupy the capital of Ahom, Gargaon.
Several Kings namely the then Raja of Manipur and the Khasi chief (Viryyavanta) submitted to the Koch army. The Jaintia Raja and Rajas of Tippera(Tripura) and Sylhet were also vanquished and put to death by Chilarai and his army. It must be mentioned that Chila Rai never committed brutalities on unarmed common people and even those kings who offer their surrender were treated with utmost respect. Only those kings and soldiers who refused to surrender were treated with strong hands. But the brothers never annexed conquered territories nor oppressed the people. They only collected tributes from the vanquished kings. Even enemy- prisoners were kindly treated and given land-grants to settle”. The duo (Chilarai and Naranarayan) turned towards Bengal but due to unforeseen circumstances Chilarai was captured by the Afghan Sultan Sulaiman Karrani while Naranarayan retreated to his capital. Much of the Koch kingdom was captured by the Afghans thereafter. However, Chila Rai and Nara Narayan later rebuilt the Kamakhya temple that the Sultan’s army had destroyed. They also patronized the great Vaishnavite movement of Sankardev. Chila Rai died in 1577 of smallpox on the bank of Ganges. An interesting fact about Bir Chila Rai was that he had adopted various guerrilla warfare strategies much before Chatrapati Shivaji had adapted against Aurangzeb much later.
The significance of gaining attention to Chila Rai is that though he is revered in Assam and his birth anniversary is celebrated with great splendor throughout Assam since 2005 along with an award being issued in his honor, he is however not well known amongst other communities across India. This is being capitalized by the BJP who during their election rallies has promised more economic benefits and bigger packages to the Rajbonshi community, more than those which are being offered by the State government and Mamata Banerjee led TMC. In this context, it is important to note that Amit Shah has planned a tour circuit covering the Madanmohan Temple and certain other local Kamptapuri attractions and even promising to make the Raash-Mela a national festival. All these must be taken within consideration of the vote bank politics does help in a sobering way that these just might be empty promises, but observing the record of the BJP and Amit Shah shows us hope that these must not be empty promises. Hope still remains that the Coch people and their culture would receive the deserved attention after all these years.
There was a time when entrepreneurs in Kolkata used to fly to other cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Delhi to set up ventures, making the growth of the city’s startup ecosystem quite slow. But the trend has started to change dramatically. Today, the City of Joy has become a place where budding entrepreneurs are bringing new waves of innovation, making the city’s startup fraternity highly optimistic. Kolkata has already given birth to some leading Indian startups such as Wow! Momo, which raised whopping funding of $23 million from Tiger Global Management last year that increased its valuation to $120 million.
The transformation in the startup scene of Kolkata has naturally attracted many leading coworking space providers to open up branches here. No matter what kind of industry you’re into, you’ll be welcomed with a wide choice of coworking spaces in Kolkata.
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Major factors promoting the startup ecosystem of Kolkata
Private and government initiatives
IIMCIP (IIM Calcutta Innovation Park) promotes innovation and entrepreneurship by providing both virtual and physical incubation. TCGTBI, an initiative by IIEST, promotes entrepreneurship and innovation by converting tech ideas in different disciplines of science and technology into processes, products, and services to use commercially and benefit society. An incubation center aimed at science and technology startups has been set up by the Kolkata branch of IISER to promote entrepreneurship in India’s eastern and northeastern regions. Neotec Hub is another prominent incubator that offers different programs to startups that are working on innovative technologies mainly in the fields of education, healthcare, real estate, and hospitality. Startup Bengal is the West Bengal Government’s initiative to help startups access different resources of the state’s startup ecosystem and to promote an entrepreneurial culture.
A solid pool of startup investors
While beginning a startup takes a lot of courage and hard work to transform the idea into reality, probably the biggest hurdle is gathering funding to support your entrepreneurial journey. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of startup investors in Kolkata. In fact, the startups in the city have raised $43.73 million between 2014 and 2019. Some of the notable investors in Kolkata include Kolkata Ventures (an Indo-US collaboration to promote Indian entrepreneurship), Calcutta Angels, Augment Ventures, among others. The Government of West Bengal also helps startups to get access to early-stage funding.
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In addition to these, there’s one key factor that’s fostering the startup ecosystem of Kolkata – low operational costs. You can easily start operating from a top-tier coworking space, situated in a prominent location, offering all modern amenities by shelling out a cost much lower than what you’d need to pay in other major cities. Whether you need to book a desk on an hourly/daily basis or need a private cabin for the entire month, there’re many coworking space providers that offer these flexibilities.
It’s true that Kolkata still has a long way to go to match the startup culture of cities such as Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, etc. But with the help of regular startup events, entrepreneur/VC meetups, and knowledge sessions, we can expect to see an expedited growth of budding entrepreneurs with more number of professionals establishing ventures here.
(Disclaimer: The article is sponsored, and hence promotes some commercial links.)