Save Bengal Chemical; Its Legacy and Promise are Precious

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rabin chakraborty
rabin chakraborty signed this petition

 I am shocked and dismayed to learn that the Union Government has reasserted its plan to put Bengal Chemical & Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BCPL) in the list of companies for disinvestment and sale. This is a blow to the nation's heritage in more ways than one.

The Heritage

As an Indian, as a student and teacher of science and as a scientific researcher, I have always known the Bengal Chemical to be an indispensable part of the nation's economic, scientific and technological heritage. For, the company was not merely an industrial venture. Guided by the vision of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, it grew to be an institution where scientific learning, research, business enterprise, and national commitment had been blended together to prepare the foundations of genuine development. Its chemical and pharmaceutical products became household names. It has also been an indispensable part of Kolkata's history. And its presence was not confined to Bengal. The company expanded over time. Its units came up in Mumbai and Kanpur, with depots, stockists and C&F agencies across the country. It constituted a prime example of Swadeshi Jagaran.  

It would be difficult for me to imagine a Kolkata where the Bengal Chemical did not exist. It is painful for me to think of an India  where such heritage no longer matters. 

From Decline to Resurgence

True, the company had been in decline for a long time. But, in the last two years, it has been making a comeback. It has seen significant profits. Even the government has recognized this. So did the Calcutta High Court, which has ruled against the governmental decision. (The government has appealed and the matter continues to be sub judice.)

A golden opportunity

This is an opportunity--an opportunity to turn the tide, appoint a visionary managerial cadre, and try to redeem the lost heritage of scientific technological excellence, and expand work opportunities in a period of economic slowdown. 

I urge that:

1.        The BCPL be recognized as a heritage company

2.        The government declare its commitment to cherish its legacy and take it forward as a model

3.        The proposal for disinvestment and sale of land of BCPL be dropped forthwith

4.        The plan for taking up production and marketing of Anti Snake-Venom Serum by BCPL, the only public sector company to do so, be approved promptly

5.    Appropriate steps be taken to set up an Industrial Laboratory cum Research Institute in the name of Acharya PC Ray to innovate and develop sustainable technologies not only for BCPL but also for other similar industries in India.