Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray and Quest for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Colonial India



Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray (1861-1944) was a legendary scientist born in India. Acharya PC Ray, as he was popularly known, was an enthusiastic entrepreneur wholeheartedly devoted to chemical research and innovation. He became a pioneer in chemical innovations in modern India. His innovations led to successful entrepreneurship. While the country is celebrating "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" initiatives in 2020-22, no big bash celebration was offered to mark his 160th birthday last year. He was also an outstanding scholar who wrote a seminal monograph titled "A History of Hindu Chemistry: From the Earliest Times to the Middle of Sixteenth Century," published in two volumes, the first in 1902 and the second volume in 1909. In this book, he introduced the chemical heritage of India to the global scholars from original Sanskrit texts. He translated several Sanskrit texts into English for the readers. He was also at the forefront of the new education movement for producing scientists and entrepreneurs with a Swadeshi bent of mind. His autobiography is a testimony of a Swadeshi entrepreneur who worked in an adverse environment during the colonial British Raj to promote locally manufactured chemical and pharmaceutical products. He had entrepreneurial vigour and necessity; at the same time, he was an outstanding teacher producing brilliant chemists and scientists for the country. This paper explores his thoughts and approaches to the integration of innovation and entrepreneurship while conceptualising a Swadeshi enterprise during the British Raj.


Innovation; Entrepreneurship; Swadeshi Enterprise; Pharmaceutical Industry; India; British Raj; Colonial Period; History of Entrepreneurship; History of Science

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