Bengal

Bengal (Bengali: বঙ্গ "Bôngo", বাংলা "Bangla", বঙ্গদেশ "Bôngodesh" or বাংলাদেশ "Bangladesh"), is a historical and geographical region in the northeast of South Asia. Today it is mainly divided between the independent nation of Bangladesh (previously East Bengal), and the state of West Bengal in India, although some regions of the previous kingdoms of Bengal (during local monarchical regimes and British rule) are now part of the neighboring Indian states of Bihar, Tripura and Orissa. The majority of Bengal is inhabited by Bengali people (বাঙালি "Bangali") who speak Bengali (বাংলা "Bangla"). Fact|date=December 2007

The region of Bengal is one of the most densely populated regions on earth, with a population density exceeding 900/km². Most of the Bengal region lies in the low-lying GangesBrahmaputra River Delta or Ganges Delta, the world's largest delta. In the southern part of the delta lies the Sundarbans—the world's largest mangrove forest and home of the Bengal tiger. Though the population of the region is mostly rural and agrararian, two megacities, Kolkata (previously Calcutta) and Dhaka, are located in Bengal. The Bengal region is notable for its contribution to the socio-cultural uplift of Indian society in the form of the Bengal Renaissance, and revolutionary activities during the Indian independence movement.

Etymology and ethnology

The exact origin of the word "Bangla" or Bengal is unknown, though it is believed to be derived from the Dravidian-speaking tribe "Bang" that settled in the area around the year 1000 BC.cite book
publisher = Library of Congress
url = http://memory.loc.gov/frd/cs/bdtoc.html
chapter = Early History, 1000 B. C.-A. D. 1202
title = Bangladesh: A country study
editor = James Heitzman and Robert L. Worden
year = 1989
]

Other accounts speculate that the name is derived from "Vanga"(বঙ্গ "bôngo"), which came from the Austric word "Bonga" meaning the Sun-god. The word "Vanga" and other words speculated to refer to Bengal (such as Anga) can be found in ancient Indian texts including the Vedas, Jaina texts, the Mahabharata and Puranas. The earliest reference to "Vangala" (বঙ্গাল "bôngal") has been traced in the Nesari plates (805 AD) of Rashtrakuta Govinda III which speak of Dharmapala as the king of Vangala. [M.A. Amitabha Bhattacharyya, "Historical Geography of Ancient and Early Mediaeval Bengal", Sanskrit Pustak Bhandar, 1977, pp. 61–62.]

Some accounts claim that the word may derive from bhang, a preparation of cannabis which is used in some religious ceremonies in Bengal. [http://books.google.com/books?id=Qq-A4A0KB0kC&pg=PA107&lpg=PA107&dq=%22bhang+land%22&source=web&ots=tJsZ4K7CvK&sig=LfXDZMIulx7MTvNBzaMuS6lIlos&hl=en] [http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/studies/inhemp/4chapt9.htm]

The Proto-Australoids were one of the earliest inhabitants of Bengal.cite web
url = http://www.banglapedia.net/HT/S_0221.HTM
title = Settlement in Bengal (Early Period)
last=Sultana
first=Sabiha
accessdate = 2007-03-04
work = Banglapedia
publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
] Dravidians migrated to Bengal from the south, while Tibeto-Burman peoples migrated from the Himalayas, followed by the Indo-Aryans from north-western India. The modern Bengali people are a blend of these people. Pathans, Iranians, Arabs and Turks also migrated to the region in the late Middle Ages while spreading Islam.

History

Remnants of Copper Age settlements in the Bengal region date back 4,300 years,cite web
url = http://www.orgs.ttu.edu/saofbangladesh/history.htm
title = History of Bangladesh
accessdate = 2006-10-26
publisher = Bangladesh Student Association
] cite news
publisher = Xinhua
date = 2006-March
title = 4000-year old settlement unearthed in Bangladesh
url = http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-03/12/content_4293312.htm
] when the region was settled by Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic peoples. After the arrival of Indo-Aryans, the kingdoms of Anga, Vanga and Magadha were formed by the 10th century BC, located in the Bihar and Bengal regions. Magadha was one of the four main kingdoms of India at the time of Buddha and consisted of several Janapadas. One of the earliest foreign references to Bengal is the mention of a land named Gangaridai by the Greeks around 100 BC, located in an area in Bengal.cite web
url = http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/G_0019.htm
title = Gangaridai
accessdate = 2006-09-08
last = Chowdhury
first = AM
work = Banglapedia
publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
] From the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE, the kingdom of Magadha served as the seat of the Gupta Empire.

The first recorded independent king of Bengal was Shashanka, reigning around early 7th century.cite web
url = http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/S_0122.htm
title = Shashank
accessdate = 2006-10-26
work = Banglapedia
publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
] After a period of anarchy, the native Buddhist Pala Empire ruled the region for four hundred years, and expanded across the northern Indian subcontinent into Afghanistan during the reigns of Dharmapala and Devapala. The Pala dynasty was followed by a shorter reign of the Hindu Sena dynasty. Islam was introduced to Bengal in the twelfth century by Sufi missionaries. Subsequent Muslim conquests helped spread Islam throughout the region.cite web
url = http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/I_0103.htm
title = Islam (in Bengal)
accessdate = 2006-10-26
work = Banglapedia
publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
] Bakhtiar Khilji, a Turkic general of the Slave dynasty of Delhi Sultanate, defeated Lakshman Sen of the Sena dynasty and conquered large parts of Bengal. Consequently, the region was ruled by dynasties of sultans and feudal lords under the Delhi Sultanate for the next few hundred years. In the sixteenth century, Mughal general Islam Khan conquered Bengal. However, administration by governors appointed by the court of the Mughal Empire gave way to semi-independence of the area under the Nawabs of Murshidabad, who nominally respected the sovereignty of the Mughals in Delhi. The most notable among them is Murshid Quli Khan, who was succeeded by Alivardi Khan.

Portuguese traders arrived late in the fifteenth century, once Vasco da Gama reached India by sea in 1498. European influence grew until the British East India Company gained taxation rights in Bengal "subah", or province, following the Battle of Plassey in 1757, when Siraj ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab, was defeated by the British.cite web
url = http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/S_0411.htm
title = Sirajuddaula
accessdate = 2006-10-26
last1 = Chaudhury
first1 = S
last2 = Mohsin
first2 = KM
work = Banglapedia
publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
] The Bengal Presidency was established by 1766, eventually including all British territories north of the Central Provinces (now Madhya Pradesh), from the mouths of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra to the Himalayas and the Punjab. The Bengal famine of 1770 claimed millions of lives.cite web
url = http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/f/fiske/john/f54u/chapter9.html
title = The Famine of 1770 in Bengal
accessdate = 2006-10-26
last = Fiske
first = John
work = The Unseen World, and other essays
publisher = University of Adelaide Library Electronic Texts Collection
] Calcutta was named the capital of British India in 1772. The Bengal Renaissance and Brahmo Samaj socio-cultural reform movements had great impact on the cultural and economic life of Bengal. The failed Indian rebellion of 1857 started near Calcutta and resulted in transfer of authority to the British Crown, administered by the Viceroy of India.Harv|Baxter|1997|pp=30-32] Between 1905 and 1911, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones.Harv|Baxter|1997|pp=39-40]

Bengal has played a major role in the Indian independence movement, in which revolutionary groups were dominant. Armed attempts against to overthrow the British Raj reached a climax when Subhash Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army against the British. Bengal was also central in the rising political awareness of the Muslim population—Muslim League was established in Dhaka in 1906. In spite of a last ditch effort to form a United Bengal,cite web
url = http://www.banglapedia.net/HT/U_0020.HTM
title = United Bengal Movement
accessdate = 2007-02-06
author = Chitta Ranjan Misra
work = Banglapedia
publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
] when India gained independence in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines. The western part went to India (and was named West Bengal) while the eastern part joined Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan, giving rise to Bangladesh in 1971). The circumstances of partition was bloody, with widespread religious riots in Bengal.cite web
url = http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/P_0101.htm
title = Partition of Bengal, 1947
accessdate = 2006-10-26
author = Harun-or-Rashid
work = Banglapedia
publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
] cite web
url = http://www.banglapedia.net/HT/C_0019.HTM
title = Calcutta Riots (1946)
accessdate = 2007-02-06
author = Suranjan Das
work = Banglapedia
publisher = Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
]

The post-partition political history of East and West Bengal diverged for the most part. Starting from the Bengali Language Movement of 1952.Harv|Baxter|1997|pp=62-63] political dissent against West Pakistani domination grew steadily. Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, emerged as the political voice of the Bengali-speaking population of East Pakistan by 1960s.Harv|Baxter|1997|pp=78-79] In 1971, the crisis deepened when Rahman was arrested and a sustained military assault was launched on East Pakistan.cite book
last = Salik
first = Siddiq
year = 1978
title = Witness to Surrender
publisher = Oxford University Press
id = ISBN 0-19-577264-4
] Most of the Awami League leaders fled and set up a government-in-exile in West Bengal. The guerrilla Mukti Bahini and Bengali regulars eventually received support from the Indian Armed Forces in December 1971, resulting in a decisive victory over Pakistan on 16 December in the Bangladesh Liberation War or Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.cite journal
last = Burke
first = S
year = 1973
title = The Postwar Diplomacy of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
journal = Asian Survey
volume = 13
issue = 11
pages = 1036–1049
doi = 10.1525/as.1973.13.11.01p0385c
] The post independence history of Bangladesh was strife with conflict, with a long history of political assassinations and coups before parliamentary democracy was established in 1991. Since then, the political environment has been relatively stable.

West Bengal, the western part of Bengal, became a state in India. In the 1960s and 1970s, severe power shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Naxalite movement damaged much of the state's infrastructure, leading to a period of economic stagnation. The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 resulted in the influx of millions of refugees to West Bengal, causing significant strains on its infrastructure.Harv|Bennett|Hindle|1996|pp=63-70] West Bengal politics underwent a major change when the Left Front won the 1977 assembly election, defeating the incumbent Indian National Congress. The Left Front, led by CPI(M) has governed for the last three decades.cite news
first = Soutik
last = Biswas
title = Calcutta's colourless campaign
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4909832.stm
publisher = BBC
date = 2006-04-16
accessdate = 2006-08-26
] The state's economic recovery gathered momentum after economic reforms in India were introduced in the mid-1990s by the central government, aided by election of a new reformist Chief Minister in 2000.

Geography

Most of the Bengal region is in the low-lying GangesBrahmaputra River Delta or Ganges Delta. The Ganges Delta arises from the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers and their respective tributaries. The total area of Bengal is 232752 km²—West Bengal is 88,752 km² and Bangladesh 144,000 km².

Most parts of Bangladesh are within 10 meters (33 ft) above the sea level, and it is believed that about 10% of the land would be flooded if the sea level were to rise by 1 metre (3 ft).cite journal
last = Ali
first = A
year = 1996
title = Vulnerability of Bangladesh to climate change and sea level rise through tropical cyclones and storm surges
doi = 10.1007/BF00175563 | journal = Water, Air, & Soil Pollution
volume = 92
issue = 1-2
pages = 171–179
] Because of this low elevation, much of this region is exceptionally vulnerable to seasonal flooding due to monsoons. The highest point in Bangladesh is in Mowdok range at 1,052 metres (3,451 ft) in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to the southeast of the country. [ [http://www.sol.co.uk/v/viewfinder/elevmisquotes.html#keok Summit Elevations: Frequent Internet Errors.] Retrieved 2006-04-13.] A major part of the coastline comprises a marshy jungle, the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to diverse flora and fauna, including the Royal Bengal Tiger. In 1997, this region was declared endangered.cite journal
last = IUCN
year = 1997
title = Sundarban wildlife sanctuaries Bangladesh
journal = World Heritage Nomination-IUCN Technical Evaluation
]

West Bengal is on the eastern bottleneck of India, stretching from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. The state has a total area of Unit area|sqkm|88752.cite web
url = http://www.indianmirror.com/geography/geo9.html| title = Statistical Facts about India
accessdate = 2006-10-26| publisher = www.indianmirror.com
] The Darjeeling Himalayan hill region in the northern extreme of the state belongs to the eastern Himalaya. This region contains Sandakfu (Unit length|m|3636)—the highest peak of the state.cite web
url = http://yhaindia.org/sandakphu_trek.htm
title = National Himalayan Sandakphu-Gurdum Trekking Expedition: 2006| accessdate = 2006-10-26
publisher = Youth Hostels Association of India: West Bengal State Branch
] The narrow Terai region separates this region from the plains, which in turn transitions into the Ganges delta towards the south. The Rarh region intervenes between the Ganges delta in the east and the western plateau and high lands. A small coastal region is on the extreme south, while the Sundarbans mangrove forests form a remarkable geographical landmark at the Ganges delta. At least nine districts in West Bengal and 42 districts in Bangladesh have arsenic levels in groundwater above the World Health Organization maximum permissible limit of 50 µg/L.cite journal
title = Groundwater arsenic contamination in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India
author = Chowdhury U. K., Biswas B. K., Chowdhury T. R.
journal = Environmental Health Perspectives
year = 2000| volume = 108| issue = 4| pages = 393–397
url = http://www.ehponline.org/members/2000/108p393-397chowdhury/chowdhury-full.html
doi = 10.2307/3454378
]

Demographics

About 210 million people live in Bengal, around 60% of them in Bangladesh and the remainder in West Bengal.cite web
url = http://www.censusindia.gov.in/
title = Provisional Population Totals: West Bengal
accessdate = 2006-08-26
work = Census of India, 2001
publisher = Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India
] [Adjusted population, p.4,cite web
url = http://www.bbsgov.org/Population%20Census%202001.PDF
publisher = Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
title = Population Census 2001, Preliminary Report
date = 2001-08
format=PDF
] The population density in the area is more than 900/km²; making it among the most densely populated areas in the world.World Bank Development Indicators Database, 2006.]

Bengali is the main language spoken in Bengal. English is often used for official work. There are small minorities who speak Hindi, Urdu, Chakma, and several other tribal languages. Nepali is spoken primarily by the Gorkhas of Darjeeling district of West Bengal.

66% of the total Bengali population is Muslim, and 33% is Hindu. In Bangladesh 89.7% of the population is Muslim and 9.2% are Hindus (Bangladesh Census 2001). In West Bengal, Hindus are the majority with 72.5% of the population while Muslims comprise 25%, and other religions make up the remainder.cite web
url = http://www.censusindia.gov.in/
title = Data on Religion
accessdate = 2006-08-26
work = Census of India (2001)
publisher = Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India
] Other religious groups include Buddhists, Christians, and Animists. About 2% of the population is tribal.

Life expectancy is around 63 years, and are almost same for the men and women.cite web
url = http://www.indiatogether.org/health/infofiles/life.htm
title = An Indian life: Life expectancy in our nation
accessdate = 2006-08-26
work = India Together
publisher = Civil Society Information Exchange Pvt. Ltd
] cite web
url = http://www.who.int/whr/2005/en/
title = World Health Report 2005
publisher = World Health Organization
] In terms of literacy, West Bengal leads with 69.22% literacy rate, in Bangladesh the rate is approximately 41%.cite web
url = http://hdr.undp.org/statistics/data/countries.cfm?c=BGD
title = 2005 Human Development Report
publisher = UNDP
] The level of poverty is high, the proportion of people living below the poverty line is more than 30%. [http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/bangladesh_bangladesh_statistics.html Bangladesh Country Statistics] , Unicef] cite book
title=West Bengal Human Development Report 2004
origyear= 2004
origmonth= May
url= http://www.undp.org.in/hdrc/shdr/WB/
format= PDF
accessdate= 2006-08-26
publisher= Development and Planning Department, Government of West Bengal
id=ISBN 81-7955-030-3
pages= pp4–6
chapter= Introduction and Human Development Indices for West Bengal
chapterurl= http://www.undp.org.in/hdrc/shdr/WB/WB%20HDR%202004/Chap1.pdf
]

Economy

Agriculture is the leading occupation in the region. Rice is the staple food crop. Other food crops are pulses, potato, maize, and oil seeds. Jute is the principal cash crop. Tea is also produced commercially; the region is well known for Darjeeling and other high quality teas. The service sector is the largest contributor to the gross domestic product of West Bengal, contributing 51% of the state domestic product compared to 27% from agriculture and 22% from industry.cite web
url = http://www.arc.unisg.ch/org/arc/web.nsf/1176ad62df2ddb13c12568f000482b94/43cf0caeed566faac12571d30061daac/$FILE/India%20Symposium_IBEF_State%20Reports_Westbengal.pdf
title = The State Economy| accessdate = 2006-09-07| format = PDF| work = Indian States Economy and Business: West Bengal
publisher = India Brand Equity Foundation, Confederation of Indian Industry| pages = 9
] State industries are localized in the Kolkata region and the mineral-rich western highlands. Durgapur–Asansol colliery belt is home to a number of major steel plants.cite web
url = http://www.webindia123.com/westbengal/economy/economy.htm| title = Economy| accessdate = 2006-09-07
work = West Bengal| publisher = Suni System (P) Ltd
] West Bengal has the third largest economy (2003–2004) in India, with a net state domestic product of US$ 21.5 billion. During 2001–2002, the state's average SDP was more than 7.8%—outperforming the National GDP Growth.cite web
url = http://www.wbidc.com/about_wb/index.html| title = Basic Information| accessdate = 2006-09-07| work = About West Bengal
publisher = West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation
] The state has promoted foreign direct investment, which has mostly come in the software and electronics fields;cite web| url=http://www-scf.usc.edu/~efinnega/econ.html| title=Dasgupta, 2002| accessdate=2006-04-11] Kolkata is becoming a major hub for the Information technology (IT) industry. Owing to the boom in Kolkata's and the overall state's economy, West Bengal is now the third fastest growing economy in the country.cite web| url=http://calcutta.usconsulate.gov/19oct2005.html| title=Consul General Henry V. Jardine to The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, October 20, 2005| accessdate=2006-04-11]

Since 1990, Bangladesh has achieved an average annual growth rate of 5% according to the World Bank, despite the hurdles. The middle class and the consumer industry have seen some growth. Bangladesh has seen a sharp increase in foreign direct investment. A number of multinational corporations, including Unocal Corporation and Tata, have made major investments, the natural gas sector being a priority. In December 2005, the Central Bank of Bangladesh projected GDP growth around 6.5%. [http://www.bangladesh-bank.org/pub/annual/anreport/annual.html Annual Report 2004-2005, Bangladesh Bank] ] Although two-thirds of Bangladeshis are farmers, more than three quarters of Bangladesh’s export earnings come from the garment industry,cite news
last = Roland
first = B
year = 2005
title = Bangladesh Garments Aim to Compete
publisher = BBC
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4118969.stm
] which began attracting foreign investors in the 1980s due to cheap labour and low conversion cost. In 2002, the industry exported US$5 billion worth of products.cite journal
last = Rahman
first = S
year = 2004
title = Global Shift: Bangladesh Garment Industry in Perspective
journal = Asian Affairs
volume = 26
issue = 1
pages = 75–91
] The industry now employs more than 3 million workers, 90% of whom are women.cite book
last = Begum
first = N
chapter = Enforcement of Safety Regulations in Garment sector in Bangladesh
title = Proc. Growth of Garment Industry in Bangladesh: Economic and Social dimension
year = 2001
pages = 208-226
] A large part of foreign currency earnings also comes from the remittances sent by expatriates living in other countries.

One significant contributor to the development of the economy of Bangladesh has been the widespread propagation of microcredit by Grameen Bank and other similar orgamizations. Together, these organizations had about 5 million members by late 1990s.cite journal
last = Schreiner
first = Mark
year = 2003
title = A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh,
journal = Development Policy Review
volume = 21
issue = 3
pages = 357–382
doi = 10.1111/1467-7679.00215
] [ "Yunus sees big Answers in Micro-credit" Globe and Mail article |http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080611.RYUNUS11/TPStory/Business]

Culture

The common Bengali language and culture anchors the shared tradition of two parts of politically divided Bengal. Bengal has a long tradition in folk literature, evidenced by the "Charyapada", "Mangalkavya", "Shreekrishna Kirtana", "Maimansingha Gitika" or "Thakurmar Jhuli". Bengali literature in the medieval age was often either religious (e.g. Chandidas), or adaptations from other languages (e.g. Alaol). During the Bengal Renaissance of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Bengali literature was modernized through the works of authors such as Michael Madhusudan Dutta, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam.

The Baul tradition is a unique heritage of Bangla folk music.cite web
url = http://bengalonline.sitemarvel.com/bengali-folklore.asp?art=baul
title = The Bauls of Bengal
accessdate = 2006-10-26
work = Folk Music
publisher = BengalOnline
] The schlar saint Sri Anirvan loved Baul music, and in fact described himself as a simple Baul. [http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/A_0246.htm] Other folk music forms include Gombhira, Bhatiali and Bhawaiya. Folk music in Bengal is often accompanied by the ektara, a one-stringed instrument. Other instruments include the dotara, dhol, flute, and tabla. The region also has an active heritage in North Indian classical music.

Bengal had also been the harbinger of modernism in Indian fine arts. Abanindranath Tagore, one of the important 18th century artist from Bengal is often referred to as the father of Indian modern art. He had established the first non-British art academy in India known as the Kalabhavan within the premises of Santiniketan. Santiniketan in course of time had produced many important Indian artists like Gaganendranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, Benode Bihari Mukherjee and Ramkinkar Baij. In the post-independence era, Bengal had produced important artists like Somenath Hore, Meera Mukherjee and Ganesh Paine.

Rice and fish are traditional favorite foods, leading to a saying that in Bengali, "mach ar bhaath bangali baanaay", that translates as "fish and rice make a Bengali".cite web
url = http://govdocs.aquake.org/cgi/reprint/2003/1201/12010300.pdf
title = Development of freshwater fish farming and poverty alleviation: A case study from Bangladesh
accessdate = 2006-10-22
author = Gertjan de Graaf, Abdul Latif
publisher = Aqua KE Government
format=PDF
] Bengal's vast repertoire of fish-based dishes includes Hilsa preparations, a favorite among Bengalis. Bengalis make distinctive sweetmeats from milk products, including "Rôshogolla", "Chômchôm", and several kinds of "Pithe".

Bengali women commonly wear the "shaŗi" and the salwar kameez, often distinctly designed according to local cultural customs. In urban areas, many women and men wear Western-style attire. Among men, European dressing has greater acceptance. Men also wear traditional costumes such as the "panjabi" with "dhuti" or "pyjama", often on religious occasions. The lungi, a kind of long skirt, is widely worn by Bangladesh men.

The greatest religious festivals are the two Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha) for the Muslims, and the autumnal Durga Puja for Hindus.cite web
url = http://www.wbtourism.com/fairs_festivals/durga.htm
title = Durga Puja
accessdate = 2006-10-28
work = Festivals of Bengal
publisher = West Bengal Tourism, Government of West Bengal
] Christmas (called "Bôŗodin" (Great day) in Bangla), Buddha Purnima are other major religious festivals. Other festivities include Pohela Baishakh (the Bengali New Year), Basanta-Utsab, Nobanno, and "Poush parbon" (festival of Poush).

Bengali cinema are made both in Kolkata and Dhaka. The Kolkata film industry is older and particularly well known for its art films. Its long tradition of film making has produced acclaimed directors like Satyajit Ray, while contemporary directors include Buddhadev Dasgupta and Aparna Sen. Dhaka also has a vibrant commercial industry and more recently has been home to critically acclaimed directors like Tareque Masud. Mainstream Hindi films of Bollywood are also quite popular in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Around 200 dailies are published in Bangladesh, along with more than 1800 periodicals. West Bengal had 559 published newspapers in 2005,cite web
url = https://rni.nic.in/pii.htm
title = General Review
accessdate = 2006-09-01
publisher = Registrar of Newspapers for India
] of which 430 were in Bangla. Cricket and football are popular sports in the Bengal region. Local games include sports such as Kho Kho and Kabaddi, the later being the national sport of Bangladesh. An Indo-Bangladesh "Bangla Games" has been organized among the athletes of the Bengali speaking areas of the two countries.cite web
url = http://in.news.yahoo.com/indiaabroad/20080227/r_t_ians_sp/tsp-bangladesh-dominate-indo-bangla-game-6ecd056.html
title = Bangladesh dominate Indo-Bangla Games, clinch 45 gold medals
date=2008-02-27
accessdate = 2008-02-27
publisher = Yahoo Web Services India Pvt Ltd
]

Intra-Bengal relations today

India is Bangladesh's most important neighbor. Geographic, cultural, historic, and commercial ties are strong, and both countries recognize the importance of good relations. During and immediately after Bangladesh's struggle for independence from Pakistan in 1971, India assisted refugees from East Pakistan, intervened militarily to help bring about the independence of Bangladesh, and furnished relief and reconstruction aid.cite web
url= http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3452.htm
title= Background Note: Bangladesh
accessdate= 2008-03-29
publisher= Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. State Department
] Of the Indo-Bangladesh border length of convert|4095|km|mi|0|abbr=on, West Bengal has a border length of convert|2216|km|mi|abbr=on|0.cite web
url= http://www.indianembassy.org/policy/Foreign_Policy/FP_1998/banladesh_fp1998.html
title= Union Home Secretary Chairs a High Level Empowered Committee
accessdate= 2008-03-29
date= December 10 1998
work= Embassy of India: Foreign Relations
publisher= Government of India
] Despite overlapping historic, geographic and cultural ties, the relation between West Bengal and Bangladesh is still well below the potential.cite web
url= http://www.mea.gov.in/speech/2005/08/07ss01.htm
title= Address by External Affairs Minister Shri Natwar Singh at India-Bangladesh Dialogue Organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue and India International Centre|accessdate= 2008-02-26|date= 2005-08-07
work= Speeches|publisher= Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi
] The pan-Bengali sentiment among the people of two parts of Bengal was at its height during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.cite journal
last = Sinha
first = Dipankar
year = 2005
month = July–August
title = E par Bangla, O par Bangla, no thank you
journal = Himal South Asian
volume = 17
issue = 1
publisher = The Southasia Trust
location = Kathmandu, Nepal
url = http://www.himalmag.com/2005/july/opinion_3.html
accessdate = 2008-03-29
] While the government radio and national press in India might have backed the struggle out of strategic considerations, the Bengali broadcast and print media went out of its way to lend overwhelming support.

Frequent air services link Kolkata with Dhaka and Chittagong. A bus service between Kolkata and Dhaka is operational. The primary road link is the Jessore Road which crosses the border at Petrapole-Benapole about 175 km north-west of Kolkata. The Train service between Kolkata and Dhaka, which was stopped after Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, was resumed in 2008. [cite news
title = India-Bangladesh train to resume in April - official
url = http://in.reuters.com/article/southAsiaNews/idINIndia-32132320080225
publisher = Reuters | date = 2008-02-25 | accessdate = 2008-02-26
]

Visa services are provided by Bangladesh's consulate at Kolkata's Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Road and India's high commissions in Dhaka, Chittagong and Rajshahi. India has a liberal visa policy and nearly 500,000 visas are issued every year to Bangladeshi students, tourists, health-tourists and others who visit West Bengal and often transit to other parts of India. West Bengalis visit Bangladesh for limited numbers of tourism, pilgrimage, trade, expatriate assignments; there is significant potential for growth as Bangladesh's stability, economy, moderation in religion and tourist infrastructure improves. In addition West Bengal hosts the celebrated and controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen.

Undocumented immigration of Bangladeshi workers is a controversial issue championed by right-wing nationalist parties in India but finds little sympathy in West Bengal. India has fenced the border to control this flow but immigration is still continuing.cite journal
last = Chattopadhyay | first = S.S | date = | year = 2007 | month = June | title = Constant traffic | journal = Frontline | volume = 24
issue =11 | publisher = The Hindu
url = http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2411/stories/20070615003701400.htm
accessdate = 2008-02-26
] A rallying cry for the right-wing Hindu parties in India is that the demographics changed such as in West Bengal's border district of Malda from Hindu-majority to Muslim-majority.

The official land border crossing at Petrapole-Benapole is the primary conduit for the over $1 billion trade between the two halves of Bengal. The volume of unofficial exports to Bangladesh from India is reportedly in the range of $350–500 million each year.cite news
first = Richa
last = Mishra
title = Indo-Bangla informal trade cause for concern: FICCI
url = http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2004/11/11/stories/2004111101240700.htm
work = The Hindu Business Line
publisher = The Hindu
date = November 11 2004
accessdate = 2008-03-27
] Bangladesh argues with merit that India needs to open up its border more to Bangladeshi exports. Other landports between the two Bengals are Changrabandha-Burimari and Balurghat-Hili.

Cultural exchanges between the two parts of Bengal have been somewhat (but not fully) impacted by ups and downs in India-Bangladesh relations and in the influence of extremist Islamist groups in Bangladesh. West Bengal singers and actors complained about being rejected visas in previous years. Bangladesh television channels are widely watched in West Bengal. West Bengal media have an audience in Bangladesh. In foreign countries such as the U.S., Canada, UK, and UAE, it is common for Bengalis from both sides to form joint cultural associations and friendships, although inter-marriage is not significant, especially across religious barriers.

ee also

* Bangladesh
* Bengali people
* Bangals and Ghotis
* List of Bengalis
* Bengali language
* Bengali cuisine
* Music of Bangladesh
* Music of Bengal
* Bengali cinema
* East Bengal
* West Bengal
* Bengal architecture

Notes

References

* Harvard reference
Surname1 = Baxter
Given1 = C
Surname2=
Given2=
Year = 1997
Title = Bangladesh, From a Nation to a State
Publisher= Westview Press
ISBN = 185984121X
Pages = 0813336325

* Harvard reference
Surname1 = Bennett
Given1 = A
Surname2= Hindle
Given2= J
Year = 1996
Title = London Review of Books: An Anthology
Publisher= Verso
ISBN = 185984121X
Pages = 63-70

External links

*coord|24|00|N|88|00|E|region:IN_type:adm1st|display=inline,titleFact|date=August 2008 Geo Links for Bengal
* [http://banglapedia.org/index.html Banglapedia- specialised site]
* [http://www.hostkingdom.net/india.html#Bengal www.hostkingdom.net- List of rulers of Bengal]
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/India_BrProvinces.htm#Bengal WorldStatesmen- here India] ;Maps Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at University of Texas at Austin Libraries:* [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/shepherd/india_shepherd_1923.jpgIndia from The Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1923] :* [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/india1760_1905.jpgIndia 1760 from The Public Schools Historical Atlas edited by C. Colbeck. Longmans, Green, and Co. 1905] :* [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/india_1882.jpgIndia 1882 from A Dictionary Practical, Theoretical, and Historical of Commerce and Commercial Navigation by J.R. M'Culloch. Longmans, Green and Co. London, 1882]
* [http://www.artofbengal.com/ Art and artists of Bengal]


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