On a very significant day in the Bengali calendar, paila Baishakh (san 1416), i.e. the 15th April 2009, four citizens of this locality met together to conceive the idea of such a society; and within a few days, on Sunday, the 26th April 2009, an arrangement was made for a meeting of a group of citizens in presence of Professor Ajoy Kumar Ray, the Honb’le Vice-Chancellor of BESUS. Both the citizens and the VC were very enthusiastic and the Society was born, which was christened as “South Howrah Citizens’ Forum”. The Vice-Chancellor was accepted as the Chief Patron of the Society and the draft basic objectives were adopted.
Through further monthly meetings and frequent consultations among the citizens, new members were inducted into the ‘Forum’, the Objectives were finalized, the Society was registered and the activities of the Forum have been gradually gathering momentum.
Different Citizens’ Forums are found in different parts of this country and all over the globe. In most cases, either these are connected to civil right movements or these comprise a form of participatory development process, particularly for municipal and local governments. In some European countries, it is a community organization that strives to maintain a small town. In some countries, “citizens’ forum” even represents a political party. In Bangladesh, such a political organization launched by a Nobel laureate believes in “citizens’ power” (nagarik shakti). We too believe in collective power of the citizens; but ours is absolutely a non-political organization and a predominantly academic society with definite social objectives to promote excellence in education and a more prosperous community in terms of social consciousness.
The founders of this ‘Forum’ live in the immediate vicinity of the Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur (BESUS) campus and some of them have a long association with this technical institution of national importance. Therefore, from the very inception, South Howrah Citizens’ Forum believed in, through programme and spirit, a kind of local community – university interfacial relationship. We are grateful to the Vice-Chancellor and the Authority of BESU for their continued cooperation and we are happy that a mutually supportive intimacy has been developing between the Forum and the University which we want to strengthen.
The location significance and motto of the Society have been precisely contained in our logo and we present below, more explicitly, our objectives:
(a) To foster a better understanding of science and technology among the school children at the Higher Secondary stage in this locality, the ‘Forum’ may arrange for a set of lectures, demonstrations and interactive sessions with the help of experts in different fields of science in a systematic way.
(b) To inspire and motivate such young children, the ‘Forum’ may also organize some scientific discussions in such a manner that children get an opportunity to have a ‘face to face’ contact with eminent scientists.
(c) In the process of interactions and discussions, the ‘Forum’ may try to identify and nurture talents among the school children of the locality as far as possible.
(d) To promote public awareness and social interactions, the ‘Forum’ may arrange for lectures on popular science, environmental issues and different other topics of social importance.
(e) As a Civil Society Organization, the ‘Forum’ may offer a platform for exchange of views among the members to form constructive opinion regarding different aspects of social life and to take positive actions whenever possible.
(f) To maintain and develop worthy relationship, acquaintances with the members of the society and to encourage and assist them to organize various cultural and general development programmes for the Forum.
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden (formerly known as Indian Botanic Garden and Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta), spread over 273 acres of land, is situated close to Bengal Engineering and Science University; and both the places are prides of Shibpur, Howrah. Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is in charge of the Garden and BSI is now under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. This Botanic Garden is the largest and the oldest of its kind in South-East Asia, catering to the needs of education, research and recreation.
The Garden accommodates many rare species of plants and trees from the entire British India and also from other continents and also has a very rich collection of orchids; but, the prime attraction of the Garden to its visitors is the Great Banyan tree (Ficus Bengalensis) near its western boundary. It is not known exactly how old the tree is; but there are evidences that the tree was in existence before the establishment of the Botanic Garden in 1787; and it is conjectured that the tree is no less than 250 years old. Banyan tree is the Indian National Tree and this particular tree in the Botanic Garden of Shibpur, Howrah, is spread over more than 1.5 hectares of land and with about 2880 prop-roots. European artists’ impressions of this Banyan tree on canvas adorn the walls of many art galleries in other countries. This Banyan tree has been placed in the logo of the South Howrah Citizens’ Forum because it both signifies the location of this Forum and symbolizes a rich cultural heritage of the area.