New Delhi, November 27: The importance of women entrepreneurship in ensuring their socio-economic empowerment and in turn, optimizing their contribution to the overall progress of the country was on focus at the West Bengal Pavilion during the India International Trade Fair-2014.
In keeping with the theme which has been selected by the India Trade Promotion Organization, West Bengal highlighted all aspects related to quality education, proper healthcare, intensive skill development, gainful employment and overall advancement of women and girls – outlining specific strategies and schemes being implemented by the government so that women can be free from any discrimination or exploitation, enjoy equal rights and realize their full potential in taking the country’s growth cycle forward.
At the entrance of the pavilion, the logo of the State Government’s unique “Kanyashree” scheme, designed by Hon’ble Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself, was displayed. This conditional cash transfer scheme, with an objective of incentivizing schooling of all teenage girls and creating a protective environment for girls in which they can be safeguarded from being married before the legal age of 18, has received international acclaim. Worth mentioning is the fact that this scheme was lauded for its uniqueness at the Girl Summit 2014 in London and UNICEF has signed up with the State Government to conduct a Baseline survey and Impact Survey, with its own resources, duly recognizing the importance of this project.
The State also exhibited Bengal’s great artistic and cultural heritage, its superb handicrafts and handloom creations, its prowess in Information Technology, Power Generation and Industry and focus on the growth trajectory of Bengal, including present achievements and future opportunities. The Pavilion, with a total floor area of 22,000 sq metres, featured 49 stalls representing small scale industries, 26 representing Self-Help Groups and another five in the Tourism section, 70 per cent of which were operated by women entrepreneurs.
Enumerated below are some of the key facets of West Bengal Pavilion, which was inaugurated on 14th November, 2014 by Dr. Amit Mitra, Hon’ble Minister, Finance, Commerce and Industries and IT, in the gracious presence of senior officials of the Government of West Bengal and other top dignitaries:-
• The pavilion façade projected glimpses of hopes, aspirations and achievements of the women of the State and the people-centric programmes of the State Government which are aiding the womenfolk of Bengal in their stride ahead. Distinctive art style was used in accompanying columns to embellish the design and represent various sectors and fields such as IT, industry, agriculture, art & culture, health and education, among others. The theme area also portrayed a slew of State Government initiatives, especially those aimed at empowering girls and women.
• Also depicted was a statue of Sister Nivedita (born Margaret Elizabeth Noble), who was inspired by the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda school of thought and came to India to serve the poor and the needy.
• The basement section brought alive the concept of ensuring economic benefits to rural communities, especially women, through Self-Help Groups.
• In its other sections, the pavilion had items as varied as dokra (metal casting decorative items), wood, jute and cane products, sitalpati (fine mats), designer umbrellas, readymade garments and terracotta jewellery other than exclusive Geographical Indication-protected goods such as ‘Nakshi Kantha’ (traditional needle craft), Leather Goods of Shantiniketan, Baluchari Sarees of Bankura, Dhaniakhali Sarees of Hooghly and Shanipuri Sarees from Nadia as well as Darjeeling Tea.
• The world-famous clay models of Ghurni was on sale at the pavilion, as also the famous sweets of the district such as “sarpuria” and “sarbhaja”, which was a special initiative from the office of the District Magistrate, Nadia.
• Self-help Groups from DRDC, Barasat, a special initiative from the office of the District Magistrate, North 24 Parganas, showcased jute products and other handicrafts.
• A special feature of this edition of IITF 2014 in West Bengal Pavilion was the participation from the signature brand “Biswa Bangla”, a brainchild of the Chief Minister of West Bengal herself, which is a single umbrella organization showcasing and promoting all handloom and handicrafts products of West Bengal.
• Several government departments, including Tourism, Agriculture Marketing, Power, Industry and IT had been represented to showcase core competency of the state.
• The special attractions in the Tourism section was the representations of famous tourist destinations such as Sundarbans (with a scene depicting the animals before the idol of “banbibi” – the local deity of forest worshipped by people of all religions alike for their safety while foraying inside the jungle), Shantiniketan, Bishnupur, Darjeeling and Digha, as well as a diorama of the wildlife-rich tropical forests of Dooars, which lies in the Himalayan foothills of North Bengal.
• A separate business lounge was set up to facilitate business-to-business and business-to-government interactions.
• The reputed Oxford Book Store participated in the fair with women-centric literature.
• ‘West Bengal Day’ was celebrated in IITF on November 24. World-renowned tabla maestro Bickram Ghosh and his instrumental band Rhythmscape mesmerized the audience at Hamsadhawani theatre at Pragati Maidan. Raibenshe folk dancer Abu Saleh and his troupe displayed their daring martial arts skills.
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