West Bengal

West Bengal one of the constituent states of the Republic of India. Bengal (Vanga) was emerging as a distinct territory socially, economically and politically from the Gupta period. The process got acceleration under the Muslim rulers from the early 13th century. During the different regimes of Muslim rule, the myriad local principalities were brought under the central government. Suba-i-Bangla under the nawabs was the culmination. Under the British colonial rule Bengal became more integrated socially and politically. Bengal intelligentsia evolved alternative thoughts of statehood challenging the colonial state formation processes. The development was at length viewed by the British as an obstacle to their larger imperial design. Largely guided by imperial considerations, Bengal was partitioned in 1905 into Muslim dominated Eastern Bengal and Assam, and Hindu dominated West Bengal. The partition of bengal, however, had to be annulled in 1912 in the face of stiff resistance from the nationalist Congress. The measure embittered the relations between the two communities resulting in the rise of Muslim separatism and ultimate partition of Bengal (1947) on communal basis. The two wings of historic Bengal became thus the constituent parts of two independent countries, India and Pakistan.

The profile of the state of West Bengal is as follows:

Area : 88,752 sq.km
Capital : Kolkata
Administrative units : 18
Population : 68,077,965
Urban population : 27.48%
Literacy : 57.7%
Form of government : Parliamentary

The State of West Bengal has international boundaries with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. The Indian states sharing boundaries with West Bengal are Orissa, Bihar, Sikim and Assam. The largest cities are Kolkata, Howrah, Asansol, Durgapur and Siliguri. Other important towns include Darjeeling, Kharagpur and Haldia. The port and capital city of Kolkata is now one of the mega cities of the world. The local governance of West Bengal is characterized by panchayet system, an amalgam of ancient and modern ways of local governance. [Sirajul Islam]