Bio brief of Prof. B.M. Das (1885 - 1956)



Prof. B.M. Das was born in the year 1885 at Brahmandi, a village in the district of Faridpur now in Bangladesh. He passed the B.A. Examination very creditably from Cooch Bihar Victoria College. He joined the Presidency College in Calcutta for his M.A. which he took in 1907 topping the list of successful candidates for that year. He got employed in Bengal Chemicals and worked on an industrial process for production of Sulphuric acid. Sir Ashutosh Mukerjee secured for him the Guru Prosanna Ghosh Scholarship in 1909 and sent him to UK with special instructions to become an expert in Leather Technology. Das joined the Leeds University where he received training under the world renowned Leather Technologist Professor Procter and took his M.Sc. Degree in 1911 with great credit. After finishing his studies in the Leeds University, he worked in Frederic Bayer, Germany and in Italy in commercial leather industries before returning to India in 1914.

Sir Nilratan Sarkar, the renowned medical man who was an enthusiastic 'Swadeshi' had then started the National Tannery in Calcutta and Das joined the firm on modest terms. He used to lecture in the Industrial Chemistry classes of the Calcutta University. In 1919, the Calcutta Research Tannery was started  where Das lectured part time. The Calcutta Research Tannery subsequently  became the Bengal Tanning Institute in 1924, the first of its kind in India.  He worked there from 1934 till 1945. This Institute has earned the reputation of bringing out experts by the score in tanning and Das's students have played a prominent role in all States of India wherever modem tanneries were established. It was not an exaggeration that Das came to be dubbed as the 'Father of Modem Tanning Industry in India'.  He wrote a comprehensive book for students on Tanning which was subsequently published by the Bengal Government before the Second World War. While on the verge of retirement in 1945, he was given a military rank of Colonel and deputed as an Expert in Leather Technology with the British Intelligence Objective Committee. He extensively toured Germany, U.K. and U.S.A during 1946 and 1947 and returned to India equipped with the knowledge of the latest developments in leather manufacture. After retirement, he was re-employed by the West Bengal Government as Leather Advisor and carried on valuable research work on latest processes of leather manufacture. As Chairman of the Planning Commission he submitted a proposal to the Govt. of India for the establishment of a Leather Research Institute in India and this materialised in 1949 in Madras under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. He joined the C.L.R.I. in 1951 as an officer on special duty. In January 1953, he was appointed as its first Director which post he held till his demise in September 1956.  It was through his persistent efforts that the degree of B.Sc. (Tanning) was introduced in the Madras and Calcutta Universities. A man of cool temperament, amiable nature, boundless charity, deeply religious, an affectionate father, a devoted friend, a staunch worker for the advancement of the country's industry,  Prof. Das's life will ever remain an example for posterity to follow.