West Bengal Current Affairs

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West Bengal Honoured with UN Public Service Award

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has received the highest prize in United Nations Public Service Award for the state government’s Kanyashree Prakalpa (Girl Child) scheme in The Hague, Netherlands.

Kanyashree Prakalpa scheme of West Bengal came first among the 552 project nominations received by the UN from 62 countries.

West Bengal has been awarded in the Asia-Pacific group for the category: ‘Reaching the Poorest and Most Vulnerable through Inclusive Services and Participation‘.

Argentina was the winner in the Latin America-Caribbean Group for its programme for early childhood education. In the Western Group, the UK was the winner for its programme to prevent senior citizens from being defrauded.

Background

Kanyashree Prakalpa is an initiative of the West Bengal government to improve the lives and the status of the adolescent girls. The scheme provides financial help to the girls from disadvantaged families to pursue higher studies. It also aims to prevent child marriage. Increased educational attainment, prevention of child marriage and financial inclusion are the objectives of the scheme. The scheme was launched by Mamata Banerjee in October 2013.

This is not the first time that Kanyashree Prakalpa has won an award. Earlier, it had also received the appreciation of the UNICEF. The scheme has covered 40 lakh school and college going girls under its umbrella. Under this scheme, cash transfers have been provided to them as scholarships as long as they continue going to school. The UN Public Service Awards were launched in 2003.

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India’s First Underwater Rail Tunnel Completed

The two organizations Afcons Transtonnelstroy and Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Ltd (KMCRL) involved in implementing the East West Metro have completed boring the India’s first underwater tunnel under the Hooghly river to link Howrah and Kolkata.  

The length of Kolkata’s East West Metro is 16.6 km long. Out of which a length of 502 metres is under the Hooghly river. The project is built by Afcons Transtonnelstroy and implemented by KMRCL. Afcons Transtonnelstroy is an Indo-Russian joint venture. The project connects Howrah to the west and Salt lake to the east. Digging the underwater tunnel was the critical task in the project. A massive tunnel boring machine called Rachna was used for boring the underwater tunnel. The tunnel boring job was completed within in a time of one month and six days well ahead of schedule.

The East West Metro with a length of 16.6 km will have 12 stations, six of which will be underground stations. The project which was slated to be completed by 2012 got postponed many times. The final commissioning of the project is expected to be held by December 2019.

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West Bengal makes Bengali Mandatory in all Schools

West Bengal State government has made Bengali mandatory in all schools, including private English medium schools. Henceforth, it would be compulsory for all schools including English medium schools affiliated to boards other than West Bengal Board of Secondary Education to teach Bengali as an optional subject from Class I so that students can study it either as a second or third language.

At present, teaching of Bengali is not mandatory in the schools. Apart from Bengali, English and Hindi, students can opt for other languages such as Urdu, Gurumukhi, Nepali and Ol-chiki as the medium of instruction in schools of the State.

Background

The decision of the West Bengal government making Bengali compulsory in schools comes at the backdrop of Kerala government’s recent promulgation of an ordinance in April making Teaching of Malayalam compulsory in all schools of Kerala.

Earlier, the Left Front government had abolished teaching of English in primary sections of West Bengal in 1984. But teaching of English was reintroduced in 1992 to Class V, in 1998 to Class III and finally in 2003 to all classes from Class I onwards.

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