West Bengal was created as a constituent state of the Indian union on 15 August 1947 as the result of partition of the undivided British Indian province of Bengal into West Bengal. West Bengal covers the bottle neck of India in the east, stretching from Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. It is bounded on the north by Sikkim and Bhutan, on the east by Assam and Bangladesh. On the south by the Bay of Bengal and on the west by Orissa, Bihar and Nepal. It has therefore, three international frontiers-to the north, east and west. The state lies between 27o13'15" and 21o25'24" north latitudes and 85o48'20" and 89o53'04" east longitudes.
During the period of the Vedic age Bengal was called Banga and is said to have been inhabited by several groups of people belonging to various races. During the Mahabharatha period this area was divided into small kingdoms and principalities ruled by chieftains. The Aryans inhabited Bengal during the post Vedic period. Many dynasties exercised their control over Bengal. The Palas, Pundras, the Sen etc were a few whose rule was noteworthy. The Palas ruled for more than four hundred years. Owing to its favourable location this region had trade with Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka, the Deccan and the Persian Gulf. The Navigable parts of Ganga made it favourable for internal trade and communication. They had contacts till Taxila. In about the 3rd century the Mauryan and the Guptas established their rule. The Palas established their strong rule from about 800AD till the 11th century after which the Senas ruled. The economy, arts and culture of this region developed under the rule of the Hindu dynasties. In the beginning of the 13th century Bengal became a part of the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughals. The influence of the Muslims led to conversions besides development of art and culture and cottage industries that produced items such as Muslin which were in great demand around the world.
The proximity to the sea also resulted in the influence with the foreigners -- the Portuguese in the early 16th century, the Dutch in about 1632, the French influence between 1673-1676, the Danish in 1676 and British in 1690. The increased influence of the British resulted in conflicts with the Nawab. The diplomatic efforts with a series of conspiracies resulted in the ultimate capture of power in Bengal by the British. The battle of Plassey (1757) and the battle of Buxar (1764) sealed the fate of the Mughal rule. The British later brought forth the Dual system of administration. In 1905 the English partitioned Bengal on the basis of religion. Calcutta remained the Capital of the British empire in India till 1911. After that the capital was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.
In 1947 when India became independent Bengal was partitioned between India and Pakistan. India's share came to be known as West Bengal and Pakistan's share was called East Pakistan. Later, the state of Cooch Behar, French enclave of Chandranagore and some parts of Bihar were added to West Bengal. Bengal represents the land that possess a distinct culture with its indigenous art and crafts and make it an important part of the Indian Union.
The state of West Bengal has an area of 88,752 sq. km. and a population of 80.18 million. There are 19 districts, 341 blocks and 40782 villages. The State has population density of 903 per sq. km. (as against the national average of 312). The decadal growth rate of the state is 17.77% (against 21.54% for the country) and the population of the state is growing at a slower rate than the national rate.
The Total Fertility Rate of the State is 1.8. The Infant Mortality Rate is 31 and Maternal Mortality Ratio is 145 (SRS 2007 - 2009) which are lower than the National average. The Sex Ratio in the State is 947 (as compared to 940 for the country). Comparative figures of major health and demographic indicators are as follows :
Demographic, Socio-economic and Health profile of West Bengal State as compared to India figures
|Total population (In crore) (Census 2011)
|Decadal Growth (%) (Census 2011)
|Infant Mortality Rate (SRS 2011)
|Maternal Mortality Rate (SRS 2007-09)
|Total Fertility Rate (SRS 2011)
|Crude Birth Rate ( SRS 2011)
|Crude Death Rate ( SRS 2011)
|Natural growth Rate (SRS 201)
|Sex Ratio (Census 2011)
|Child Sex Ratio (Census 2011)
|Schedule Caste population (in crore) (Census 2001)
|Schedule Tribe population (in crore) (Census 2001)
|Total Literacy Rate (%) (Census 2011)
|Male Literacy Rate (%) (Census 2011)
|Female Literacy Rate (%) (Census 2011)
Health Infrastructure of West Bengal
|Primary Health Centre
|Community Health Centre
|Health worker (Female)/ANM at Sub Centres & PHCs
|Health Worker (Male) at Sub Centres
|Health Assistant (Female)/LHV at PHCs
|Health Assistant (Male) at PHCs
|Doctor at PHCs
|Obstetricians & Gynecologists at CHCs
|Pediatricians at CHCs
|Total specialists at CHCs
|Radiographers at CHCs
|Pharmacist at PHCs & CHCs
|Laboratory Technicians at PHCs & CHCs
|Nursing Staff at PHCs & CHCs
(Source: RHS Bulletin, March 2012, M/O Health & F.W., GOI)