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West Bengal to get four new universities
Since the inception of the Trinamool government in West Bengal there's been a trend towards boosting higher education in the state. The marginalised and the people belonging to the minority community are being included in the mainstream through promotion of higher education.

By setting up a good number of universities for women and the marginalised people, the Mamata Banerjee government has surpassed the former pseudo-communist government which only politicised education system instead of doing real good for education.

One of the hallmarks of higher education and democracy is the ability to converse with people with whom we disagree. There was a long time demand for full-fledged universities in Darjeeling and north Bengal where majority of the population is marginalised either belonging to the minority or of tribal origin. Setting up of universities promotes cultural ambience of a high standard and autonomy in preservation of culture and heritage. 

The three districts Darjeeling, Alipurduar and North Dinajpur had no universities so far. And Murshidabad only had a regional centre of the Aligarh Muslim University. A group of social activists under the leadership of academician and social activist Faruque Ahamed who has been appealing constantly since 2007 for setting up universities in Churulia and Murshidabad and other neglected areas of the state in the Left front regime.

After Mamata Banerjee came to power, the promotion of higher education started in full swing. Partha Chatterjee, Education Minister of the state, with a nod from the Chief Minister, who is committed to the promotion of higher education, rightly said that in West Bengal, wonderful achievements include the setting up of eleven state universities and the NAAC accreditation of 92 colleges.

The four new proposed universities will be new gems in the crown of Mamata Banerjee whose concern and care for higher education is known to all. The way she is promoting Kanyashree Prakalpa  and won for it the global recognition, shows how female education is being promoted for bringing the doubly marginalised women to the prospective arena of higher education. This is indeed a glorious chapter while the BJP-led Central government could not make their 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme successful in the own ruled states.

A nation's greatness is reflected in the approach taken towards its minorities, Mahatma Gandhi had once said in one of his discourses. It is heartening that West Bengal government with the inspiration and planning of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee since the very day she came to power, is taking projects and making plans for the promotion of the minorities and the marginalised people of the distant districts including the tribal people of the hills.

Recently the announcement from the Higher Education Minister Partha Chatterje regarding the new four universities in four districts in north Bengal which was long neglected in the Left front regime will cheer up the people in Murshidabad, South Dinajpur, Alipurduar and Darjeeling.

Aligarh Muslim University had a centre in Murshidabad but this was not fully satisfying the demand. There are some colleges and engineering colleges but no full-fledged university. The new university will promote minority education and encourage them for higher education although in general, it will serve the broader purpose of higher education like Aligarh Muslim University.

At a time when the minorities are living in fear all over India, and in West Bengal too, the BJP-RSS activists are trying to demolish the edifice of secularism by rewriting history, the West Bengal government along with all secular minded people from all over India have been giving strong resistance to the fundamentalists.

Trinamool supremo and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has been fighting tooth and nail against the fundamental Hindutva policies of the BJP government - their focus on the lynching of beef eaters etc. Even on the Christians, attacks have been constantly organised all over the country and the intellectuals who protested against all these communal policies have been harassed and killed against which Mamata Banerjee has always been vocal.

She has now finally come out to work for the cause of minority education. There are many other projects already undertaken but the recent announcement of setting up a university at Murshidabad is the new feather in her cap. It shows how deeply she is committed to the welfare of the minority people.

Two years ago, on November 26, 2015 during a rally organised at Shahid Minar in Kolkata, where the Chief Minister promised development projects for the minorities in presence of the minority leaders Siddiqulla; Faruque Ahmed, editor and renowned social activist cum publisher of 'Udar Akash: A Research Journal' gave a timely suggestion for setting up a University in the heritage district of Murshidabad which has the highest Muslim population.

"Obviously it would fetch more Muslim support," Ahmed said. Faruque Ahmed also gave a special issue of Udar Akash to the honourable CM  for projecting the need for a modern secular India in the presence of Mayor Shovan Chattopadhyay. He said, "We submitted on December 17, 2015 a memorandum to the Chief Minister for establishing a full-fledged university in Murshidabad and after a good many social movement organised by our activists with Udar Akash group in the vanguard, finally our mission has been successful and we thankfully acknowledge the great milestone that the Chief Minister laid for the promotion of higher education in the state for the minority in particular and people in general."  

The proposal for a university in Murshidabad was mooted earlier on 17 December, 2015, given to Mamata Banerjee after being signed by Dr Madhu Mitra; Dr Indradeep Ghosh; Faruque Ahamed, Assistant Director DODL Kalyani University who along with other social activists.

The Left front government did not do much for realisation of the long waiting demand for the university. Murshidabad had to depend on a regional centre of Aligarh Muslim University. After 2011, when the Left front was ousted from power in the state, the fight for the cause of minority welfare got a booster. The proposal for the University of Churulia was sanctioned after the Trinamool government came to power. The new proposal for the universities in the four districts will brighten the picture of higher education will also help the general scenario of higher education in the state.

The Higher Education Minister Partha Chatterjee rightly countered the misguiding report regarding higher education in the state and gave the correct picture in the state Assembly on 27 February, when he announced the proposal for four universities.

The West Bengal government has already increased the scholarship in higher education from Rs 45 crore to Rs 200 crore in spite of its limited resources. The 11 state universities are not only established but also running smoothly.

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