Kolkata: The West Bengal government will attempt to replicate the annual Thames Festival in London with a fest celebrating the Hooghly in Kolkata. It is expected to revolve around the idol immersion carnival that has emerged as an attraction in the past couple of years.
This year, Durga Puja will make its presence felt at the Thames Festival through a photography exhibition on 16 panels and other craft. “Talks are on with the West Bengal tourism department to develop a similar festival in Kolkata with a creative and diverse programme that will inspire, connect and enthrall,” British Council director (India) Alan Gemmell said on Friday.
In the evening, British Council and the state government signed a memorandum of understanding to promote skill development along with cultural and educational exchanges between Britain and Bengal.
British Council, which has been training new batches of West Bengal Civil Service (WBCS) officers for the past couple of years, will extend the programme to in-service bureaucrats. So far, 163 officers from the 2016 and 2017 batches have been trained to operate in business environment. Gemmell said the 40-hour course in partnership with the Bengal government imparts business communication skills to WBCS officers.
“Most officers have fair knowledge of English. The course gives them confidence to speak at a public gathering and conduct the business of administration professionally. It aims to realise the state chief minister’s desire to transform Bengal into a knowledge hub,” Gemmell said.
“She had spoken about it at the Bengal Global Business Summit and the state finance minister had thereafter acted on it. A batch of officers have been to Oxford. There are also plans to send them to Whitehall, the seat of British government,” Gemmell added.
British Council plans to begin a teacher training programme that will cover 70,000 primary and secondary teachers in government schools. It has already trained 25,000 teachers in Maharashtra.
In addition, the Council will explore the possibility of training college graudates on the lines of an ongoing programme in Andhra Pradesh, where it will help 100,000 graduates improve English proficiency and communication skills to raise employability.