India’s first indigenous electrical bulb firm was Philips’ prime competitor within the Nineteen Thirties

TeaThe 8-B Bus Cease close to Jadavpur College in Kolkata is thought for a lot of issues. Yr-round crowds of scholars close to photocopier retailers, small tea-stalls that function a platform for socio-political and mental discourses or throngs of customers in the course of the annual Chaitra sale – a narrative in each nook and nook Is to inform

One in every of them Much less is thought about Bengal’s illustrious entrepreneurial previous. Just a little south of the bus cease, close to Jadavpur College Gate 4, is the forgotten construction of Bengal Lamp Restricted.

It was the primary indigenous firm to fabricate electrical bulbs in India.

illuminating the streets of Calcutta


Within the nineteenth century, after sundown, the streets of Calcutta, particularly the European Quarter, have been lit with sizzling fuel lights. Nevertheless this follow modified on 24 July 1879 when PW Fleury & Firm gave the primary demonstration of electrical lights as a greater various.

This was adopted by carbon arc lamps which use an electrical arc or a voltaic arc to provide mild. It was discovered to be commercially extra environment friendly for lighting public areas than different lamps.

Resulting from this, the British authorities in Bengal handed the Calcutta Electrical Lighting Act in 1895, granting it the primary license for 21 years. Carbon arc lamps have been then put in over an space of ​​5.64 sq. miles. In keeping with a brochure of the Calcutta Electrical Provide Company (CESC), the world is now unfold over 567 sq km.

In the meantime, the Hungarian firm Tungsram found the tungsten filament lamp and was first bought in Europe in 1904. Because the capital of India, Calcutta was one of many British colonies to obtain these tungsten filament lamps. These have been imported from Europe to light up town, however sadly they failed to achieve recognition amongst metropolis dwellers, who continued to choose fuel and carbon arc lamps.

This continued till 1930, when the Philips Electrical Firm (India) arrived in India to fully monopolize the lighting enterprise market. With 75 workers and an workplace arrange at 32 Chowringhee Street, he was on a mission to rule the market between 1930-1941.

However it was on the similar time that nationalist sentiments have been on the rise and revolution had begun, particularly among the many center class. Because the Swadeshi motion gained momentum, Indians have been boycotting international items in favor of Indian merchandise, as a protest towards the colonialists.

Philips, regardless of its lofty ambitions, being a international firm additionally suffered large gross sales losses.

Swadeshi Prakash

Supply (LR): A classic poster commercial of Bengal Lamps; firm previous enamel signboard

Though in 1885, an organization was began underneath the management of Bengali entrepreneurs, Day, Sill & Co. to offer lights for marriage ceremony processions, nothing substantial was being mainstreamed by indigenous businessmen.

Recognizing this demand and alternative for an indigenous various to those bulbs, three brothers – Suren, Kiran and Hemen Roy – began the Bengal Electrical Lamp Works within the Nineteen Thirties to fabricate and promote electrical bulbs within the city.

A local of Dhaka (the capital of present-day Bangladesh), he got here from a landowning household and studied electrical engineering from international universities. Suren and Kiran have been working as professors within the College of Engineering School in Jadavpur, whereas Heyman was an administrator when the three determined to start out companies in undivided India.

Not like fuel lamps, carbon arc lamps or Philips bulbs that have been solely put in in city areas or frequented by European settlers, the Bengal lamp bulb was meant to cater to Indians from center class and decrease center class backgrounds. As well as, his focus was not solely on lighting the streets of Calcutta but additionally on establishing entry to native properties.

Bengal Lamps presents superior high quality bulbs at inexpensive costs. Inside a number of months, impressed by the Swadeshi motion, their sale jeopardized the monopoly of the international firm Philips. Resulting from low demand his institution within the city was not ample and therefore he began one other manufacturing unit at Jadavpur.

PC: Prasenjit Halder

For a few years, Bengal dominated the lamp market, offering employment alternatives to many Bengali youth. Their recognition grew they usually turned a nationwide model within the Seventies after organising their manufacturing unit in Bangalore (present-day Bangalore).

Nevertheless, with rising competitors from new firms within the electrical bulb enterprise, Bengal lamps started to falter. Resulting from market strain, monetary constraints and constructing disputes with the administration and labor union, the corporate confronted many challenges and finally closed down in 1989.

This firm was as soon as one of many first few to provoke the Swadeshi motion to loosen Britain’s financial maintain on India. As we speak in disrepair, the brown brick doorways and Bengal lamp pukur (that means: pond) are the one remnants of its superb industrial previous.

Featured Picture Credit: Prasenjit Halder

Edited by Yoshita Rao

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