Alan Gemmell OBE, Director British Council India and Mr Atri Bhattacharya IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism and Home and Hill Affairs, Government of West Bengal, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further educational and cultural cooperation between Britain and Bengal in the presence of Hon’ble Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna.
Hon’ble Finance Minister Dr Amit Mitra, Mr Malay Kumar De IAS, Chief Secretary and Dr Debanjan Chakrabarti, Director British Council East and Northeast India, were also present on the occasion.
The overarching MoU celebrates the British Council’s 70th anniversary in India - and Kolkata - with a focus on English language training across whole school system and higher education, linked to employability; research collaboration and capacity building in higher education and cultural collaboration between the UK and West Bengal with a focus on skills and tourism.
As an immediate outcome of the MoU, Durga Puja, the world’s largest community-based public arts and craft festival, will be in focus in the UK during the Totally Thames Festival, starting this August. The West Bengal government also intends to work towards a River Festival in Kolkata, similar to the Totally Thames Festival in the UK.
On the anvil is a Commonwealth public policy dialogue in Kolkata in 2019 on girls and women’s education and employment, a theme that is a priority for the state government as well as the UK.
British Council has already helped train 163 West Bengal Civil Services Executive Officers to enhance their communicative English skills, bringing a systemic change and supporting the Hon’ble Chief Minister’s vision of making West Bengal a hub of knowledge industries and education in the entire East and Northeast India and beyond, in the ASEAN region.
Alan Gemmell OBE, Director of the British Council in India, said, “We’ve been inspired every day of the last 70 years by the artists, students, scientists and policy makers we’ve worked with in West Bengal. This year we want to inspire young people from across West Bengal and India to build a relationship with the UK for the next 70 years. I’m very grateful to the Hon’ble Chief Minister for her great support for this partnership between West Bengal Government and my organisation that will, I hope enable young people from both countries realise their aspirations in education, skill development and arts and culture.”
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