Cyclists Number Growing in the Country after Pandemic

The latest research has shown that West Bengal holds the highest percentage of households having a bicycle among all Indian states and Union Territories. 78.9% of households in the state have a bicycle. With the abundant availability of local transports, like e-rickshaws, good network of local trains, trams, and electric buses, West Bengal is showing the way for a green as well as effective mode of transportation.

The national average percentage of households having a bicycle is quite less at only 50.4%. The presence of hilly terrain is a hindrance to cycling. Hence, some states like Nagaland (5.5%) and Sikkim (5.9%) have fallen behind, being the states with lowest and second lowest percentage of households having a bicycle. However, others like Gujarat and Delhi have recorded poor percentages of only 29.9% and 27.2% respectively.

Presence of bicycles is still a hindrance in Kolkata, where many busy streets have a cycle ban on them. However, the Newtown and Salt Lake areas in Kolkata fared well with bicycle tracks and regular riders where young riders are mostly found. The rural Bengal is however, the greatest contributor, where a recent Sabuj Saathi scheme was floated by the State Government. According to the scheme, bicycles are given to students of class 9 to 12 for easier commuting to school. According to a senior Government official, this is responsible for West Bengal achieving the top spot in percentage of households having a bicycle.

With the increase in fuel prices, bicycles have the potential to replace existing motor bikes and cars in some places at least. Also, as the resources are getting depleted, we right now need alternative sources of energy which will sustain our needs as well as not get depleted anytime soon. Bicycling is currently the best solution among the youth for a healthy lifestyle as well, and is fast becoming a way to stay fit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently, more than half of Indian households have a bicycle. The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered the use of bicycles as the public transport was little available. The Covid-19 pandemic also made sure to be self-dependent on transportation, health maintenance and other factors. The number is expected to grow bigger in the coming days, as we modernize the bicycle, use it for general purposes everywhere, and become more conscious about our health and environment. However, it also depends on how the new generation spreads awareness about cycling.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Winter Fairs in West Bengal

Winter fairs are an important part of Bengali cultural cum religious meet. The months of Poush and Magh fall in December and January, the winter-time in West Bengal. During winter, the climate of southern parts of West Bengal remains cool and pleasant, with almost no rain. That is why, this is the best time for fairs, called mela in Bengali in various districts in West Bengal. Uncountable small fairs are held in almost all parts of West Bengal at the peak of winter. In this article, we have listed 5 fairs that have special mention throughout the world for their cultural and religious importance.

1)Gangasagar Mela

Gangasagar Mela is the world’s second-largest congregation of mankind in the whole world after Kumbha Mela. The fair and the pilgrimage site is located on an island in the southernmost part of West Bengal, where the river Ganga meets the sea. Every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, the last day of Poush falling on 14th January, lakhs of pilgrims visit Gangasagar island to take a bath at the river-sea confluence. The pilgrims pray at Kapil Muni ashram on the island and a large fair is held for the visitors.

2)Poush Mela

Shantiniketan in Birbhum district is widely known for the residence of Rabindranath Tagore. It is also equally famous for seasonal festivals like the Poush Mela and Holi. Poush Mela is a cultural meet for all villagers around Shantiniketan where a huge fair is held every year. The practice was started by Rabindranath Tagore’s father, Devendranath Tagore to mark the harvest season. Starting from the 7th day of Poush and continuing for 3 days, this fair attracts visitors from all over Bengal and India.

3)Joydev Kenduli Mela

Joydev was a renowned poet from Bengal, who was born in Kenduli village of Birbhum district. An annual cultural fair is held every year in Kenduli, called Kenduli fair, starting from Makar Sankranti and continuing up to 3 days. The Kenduli fair is especially known for the largest congregation of bauls, a group of mystic minstrels. The baul songs with ektara, a musical instrument with one string attracts visitors from far cities and villages across the country.

4)Teesta Tea and Tourism Festival

This festival is celebrated in the northern parts of West Bengal in Darjeeling, hosted by West Bengal tourism. Darjeeling is renowned for its tea, having a unique flavour of its own. Tourists throng Darjeeling in late November or early December to take part in this festival, get accustomed to the music, dance and culture presented by the local tribes of Darjeeling hills.

5)Kolkata Book Fair

The international book fair in Kolkata is a non-trade book fair in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. It is the largest non-trade fair in the world, where books are sold for public sale rather than wholesale. All small and big publishing companies, as well as international book publishers, turn up at Kolkata every winter in the latter half of January. Since its inception in 1976, the Kolkata book fair not only proved successful but also paved way for future book fairs and handicraft fairs across the whole country.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Maintaining Covid-19 Protocols this Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights, is the biggest festival of Hinduism. Apart from the rituals, and worshipping Ma Laxmi or Ma Kali, Diwali is the time when people burn firecrackers, light their homes, and draw rangolis. Diwali also sees a large migration of the working class of big cities to their birth village or city. As the third wave of Covid-19 looms large after Dussehra, such massive migration may spread Covid-19 even in remote corners of the country according to some experts.

The return of workers, students, and other professionals is impossible to stop, given people seem to have forgotten all about the horrific first and second waves of Covid-19. However, what can be stopped is the celebration in a large gathering. People are hoping to make the most of it this year, as was evident in Durga Puja in West Bengal. The Covid-19 cases in Kolkata and its neighbourhood shot up past 500 from below 200 before the Puja. And studies have revealed a new trend that most of the cases of virus contraction were in individuals receiving double doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Not only the Puja pandals, shopping centres and restaurants are major spreaders, apart from late-night parties that became active after the State Government lifted the night curfew during the festival. Night clubs and parties have accounted for most of the second wave cases and also is the biggest threat to start off the third wave.

So, should we not celebrate Diwali this year? Experts warn only on gathering and not on the celebration. Every year, Diwali is celebrated at every home with mostly family members. So, the rituals themselves can be done in isolation at home. Marketing is a major concern, and it is best to opt for local markets and shops in the neighbourhood, or online shopping, rather than gather at a shopping mall. Markets have off-late became extremely crowded in this festive season, where hardly anyone is following Covid-19 protocols. The one who is sick or is showing Covid-19 symptoms should take a rest in isolation as this will not only improve the health but also help in curbing any contracted virus. Pandal hopping, especially in parts of West Bengal, should be avoided with no entry allowed inside Puja pandals. Wearing a mask properly when going outside and washing hands frequently are some known Covid-19 protocols people have forgotten nowadays.

Staying at home and following the festival rituals is probably the best option for this Diwali than a late night party that may turn into a super-spreader. Despite taking double vaccine shots, anyone is at risk of contracting the virus, as is evident in recent studies in Covid-19 cases across West Bengal. So, this Diwali, let’s follow the festival’s rituals in their true sense, and maintain the most essential protocol of Covid-19, staying at home and thus avoiding a possible third wave in the future.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Online Exams in West Bengal

Colleges and Universities of West Bengal have not yet opened owing to the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the state. However, odd semester exams are scheduled to be held in March. Hence, most of the Universities have opted for online/digital exams that candidates can give from their homes.

Schools have opened offline classes from class 9 to class 12. However, all classes from class 8 or below are being conducted in online mode until further notice. Parents have petitioned the school authorities for conducting online exams, but the school authorities are reluctant to conduct final board exams and annual exams online.

1)MAKAUT :

The Maulana Abul Kalam University of Technology, which has 192 engineering colleges all over West Bengal, is conducting digital exams from March 17 to March 22. The entire exam will be MCQ-based, with 30 questions of 1 marks each and 20 questions of 2 marks each. The total time of the online examination will be 90 minutes for a 70 marks exam.

2)Honours :

The Presidency University and the Calcutta Universities have drawn up a schedule of online exams throughout March. All theory papers are time-bound, where students will get 15 minutes before the exam for downloading the question paper and 30 minutes after the exam for submission. The Asutosh college wants examinees to write the answers in A4 sheets with a black pen, compile them in a PDF, and upload the PDF in a Google drive link. Jadavpur University is also going to conduct online exams in the first half of April.

3)WBNUJS :

The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences has also opted for an online examination starting March 27 onwards. The exams will continue for a month. Offline classes will begin in May for a new semester.

4)Schools :

Schools following CBSC, ICSC/ISC, and State Boards have decided that annual exams for class 9 and class 11 will be held offline since the schools are open. Classes 8 or below will have no examinations as of now. The board exams of class 10 and class 12 will also be conducted offline when the pandemic situation normalizes.

All details of the online exams, the schedule, mode of conduct, and rules and regulations are available (except Jadavpur University, which will be published soon) on the official website of the above Universities.

We are giving you a chance to learn and earn at our site – click here.

Written by Himadri Paul

Election during Pandemic

Covid-19 pandemic has decreased to a few isolated pockets in India. But since the start of March, it has spread quite rapidly in those pockets. Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka are some of the states experiencing a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 cases. Many states are already planning to impose lockdown in containment zones due to a sudden spike in the number of corona cases. However, the elections are knocking on the door of some states, which should be executed as per the Election Commission of India.

It is thus essential to maintain Covid-19 safety guidelines while voting. Despite the pandemic, it is always recommended to vote as a citizen of India. Here are some safety measures that you should follow while giving your vote on the poll day.

1)Avoid Overcrowding :

Overcrowding in poll booths can easily be avoided. Maintain a safe distance between voters. Don’t participate in any heated arguments, vandalism, gathering, if any. Maintain social distancing as much as possible.

2)Mask and Sanitizer :

Wear a mask and carry a sanitizer with you to the polling booth. Make sure to clean your hands, feet, and face well after you reach home.

3)Voting in Lean Hours :

You can opt for voting in the time you feel will be less likely to attract people. Lean hours occur very early in the morning and during and after lunchtime. Evening time before the poll ends are also crowd-free.

4)Maintain the Line :

Do not break the line or create chaos. This will create unnecessary crowding. Instead, follow the instructions carefully to find your allocated room.

5)Avoid Gossips :

Gossips are very common in the poll booth, especially as everyone wants to know the status of polls, latest news. But this time, it is better to stay away from such gossips with your fellow voters as those causes many more people come close to overhear you.

6)Police to Help :

If required, get help from the police, or the army, or any security personnel as they are likely to guide you better. Going to other fellow voters is likely to cause more chaos and confusion.

7)Do not Panic : If you notice, or overhear violence in the area, do not panic. Most of the time, what you overhear are rumors. Keep to main roads where police are likely to patrol. Stay away from violence as much as possible, and inform the security, who are likely to solve situations better.

Elections are underway for Vidhan Sabha in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Puducherry. There are also a few parliamentary by-elections and assembly by-elections in other states this year. Campaigns are going on at full rate in every corner of the polling states. If you happen to be a party worker, make sure you maintain Covid-19 protocols while campaigning for your leader. Elections of other countries like USA or Poland are setting examples of how to carry out the election process.

We always hope for a peaceful election. This time, we also hope the elections are not the cause of Covid-19 spreading in the area causing deaths. Overcome all fears, give your vote, maintain all Covid-19 protocols, and set an example to all others around you.

We are giving you a chance to learn and earn at our site – click here.

Written by Himadri Paul