was born on 2 August 1861 in Raruli-Katipara, a village in the
District of Khulna (in present day Bangladesh). His early education
started in his village school. He often played truant and spent his
time resting comfortably on the branch of a tree, hidden under its
leaves. After attending the village school, he went to Kolkata, where
he studied at Hare School and the Metropolitan College. The lectures
of Alexander Pedler in the Presidency College, which he used to
attend, attracted him to chemistry, although his first love was
literature. He continued to take interest in literature, and taught
himself Latin and French at home. After obtaining a F.A. diploma from
the University of Calcutta, he proceeded to the University of
Edinburgh on a Gilchrist scholarship where he obtained both his B.Sc.
and D.Sc. degrees.
In 1888, Prafulla Chandra made
his journey home to India. Initially he spent a year working with his
famous friend Jagadish Chandra Bose in his laboratory. In 1889,
Prafulla Chandra was appointed an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in
the Presidency College, Kolkata. His publications on mercurous
nitrite and its derivatives brought him recognition from all over the
world. Equally important was his role as a teacher - he inspired a
generation of young
chemists in India thereby building up an
Indian school of chemistry. Famous Indian scientists like Meghnad
Saha and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar were among his students.
Prafulla Chandra believed that the progress of India could be
achieved only by industrialization. He set up the first chemical
factory in India, with very minimal resources, working from his home.
In 1901, this pioneering effort resulted in the formation of the
Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Works Ltd.
retired from the Presidency College in 1916, and was appointed as
Professor of Chemistry at the University Science College. In 1921
when Prafulla Chandra reached 60 years, he donated, in advance, all
his salary for the rest of his service in the University to the
development of the Department of Chemistry and to the creation of two
research fellowships. The value of this endowment was about two lakh
rupees. He eventually retired at the age of
75. In Prafulla
Chandra Ray, the qualities of both a scientist and an industrial
entrepreneur were combined and he can be thought of as the father of
the Indian Pharmaceutical industry. Source: Tata Institute of