Wondering how Prafulla Chandra Ray became the father of Chemical Science in India? On his birthday today (2nd August), let’s know more about the scientific contributions of this eminent chemist, who was also the founder of India’s first pharmaceutical company.
Crux of the Matter
Born in Bengal Presidency of British India in 1861, he went on to become the founder of Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals, India’s first pharmaceutical company.
In 1902, he published the first volume of A History of Hindu Chemistry from the Earliest Times to the Middle of Sixteenth Century. The book contained research done in works of orientalists and ancient manuscripts.
Some Major Recognitions
He conducted research on platinum, iridium and sulphides of organic substances and published over a hundred papers on Chemistry, many of which were published in the Journal of Indian Chemical Society.
Discovery Of Mercurous Nitrite
In 1896, Prafulla published a paper on preparation of a new stable chemical compound: mercurous nitrite, which is used in mercuration.
He also proved that the pure ammonium nitrite is stable. This compound is useful as an agricultural pesticide and in making nitrous oxide.
Presence in Academia
- Prafulla Chandra retired from the Presidency College in 1916.
- He started a new Indian School of Chemistry in 1924.
- He joined the Calcutta University College of Science as its first “Palit Professor of Chemistry”.
- In 1936, at the age of 75, he retired from active service and became Professor Emeritus.
His Philanthropic Side
In 1923, Bengal suffered a flood which made many people homeless. Prafulla organised Bengal Relief Committee, which collected ₹2.5+ million as relief fund. In 1922, he donated money to establish the Nagarjuna Prize to be awarded for the best work in chemistry.
- Dr C V Raman was the first Asian to be awarded a Nobel Prize in any branch of science. In 1930, Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of an unknown type of scattering of light which was subsequently called Raman scattering.