What is the new tag Kolkata is bidding for?

From museums and mishti doi to hand pulled rickshaws and rickety electric trams, Kolkata is famous for many things. And one thing that particularly stands out is its long and rich tradition of literature. From Rabindranath Tagore’s verses to Satyajit Ray’s “Feluda” and “Professor Shonku”, Kolkata has produced some of the iconic works of literature in Bengali (most of which have been translated into other languages) as well as English.

That’s why the City of Joy, known for its College Street, a haven for book lovers with its huge market of used books, and its internationally renowned annual book fair, is now vying for UNESCO’s “City of Literature title Kolkata has been bidding for the status for the last few years.

What is the “City of Literature tag?

Considered to be a mark of excellence, the “City of Literature” tag is assigned by UNESCO to select cities that form part of its “Creative Cities” network. Launched in 2004 the network promotes the social, economic and cultural development of such cities across the world.

So far, the “City of Literature” tag has been shared by Edinburgh, Melbourne, lowa City Dublin, Reykjavik Kraków, Heidelberg, Granada, Prague, and Lahore.


  • Rabindranath Tagore: Born in Jorasanko in Kolkata, Tagore was the first Indian to win the Nobel prize in literature in 1913. His works include “Gitanjali”, “Kabuliwala”, and “Post Office”.
  • Satyajit Ray: The legendary filmmaker also made a mark in the field of literature, with stories of Feluda, the sleuth based on Sherlock Holmes, and “Professor Shonku”, the super scientist.
  • Sukumar Ray: Satyajit Ray’s father. Sukumar Ray pioneered a unique style of writing for children. He turned gibberish or the garbled words often uttered by toddlers, into poems and prose for children. His famous works include “Habber-Jabber-Law (“Ha-Ja-Ba-Ra-Law”). “Wordygurdyboom” (“Abol Tabol”), “The Crazy Tales of Pagla Dashu & Co” (“Pagla Dashu”).
  • Jhumpa Lahiri: Although she did not live in Kolkata, Lahiri’s works impeccably capture the emotions of the Bengali diaspora and their yearning for their homeland. Some of her bestselling works are “The Namesake” and “The Lowland”.

How to bid for the “City of Literature” tag?

Cities vying for the City of Literature” tag, must meet certain criteria:

  • Quality, quantity and diversity of literature.
  • Consistency in hosting literary events and festivals.
  • Presence of libraries and bookstores.
  • Capacity of translating works in foreign languages.

The selection process

The office of the mayor has to put forward a bid for the city to get the tag. This proposal needs to be approved by the Central government of the country. Only four cities from a country can bid in one year.


Picture Credit : Google

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