History of Sulekha
Sulekha Works Limited is one of the enterprises
initiated in pre-independence period in undivided Bengal. From a humble beginning in 1934 at Rajshahi
(now in Bangladesh), the company grew up to become the pioneer in manufacturing of writing inks and allied
writing instruments and homecare products in India.
At a time, when the movement for independence was at its peak, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi called for educated
and enterprising Indians to start ventures that will provide employment to local people and will be pillars of
independent India. Development of writing instruments was given a priority as a symbolic defiance to the rule
of the Raj.
Instructed by Gandhi,
Shri Satish Chandra Dasgupta, erstwhile Chief Chemist of Bengal Chemicals, directed
Shri Sankaracharyya Maitra and Shri Nani Gopal Maitra to set up a unit for manufacturing
fountain pen ink that will be at par with any other imported inks.
Both the brothers were always encouraged and motivated by their mother Satyabati Devi who was a freedom fighter
and the President of Rajshahi Mahila Samity. Ambika Charan Maitra handed over to his two sons his lifetime
savings. The decision to set up a small manufacturing unit was supported by all the family members. Satish
Chandra Dasgupta gave Shri Nani Gopal Maitra the basic formulation of
Krishnadhara, a fountain pen ink
developed by him.
However, things were extremely difficult at the beginning. The objective was to develop a formulation that
will be at par with the best in the world. Resources were few, even basic instruments cannot be purchased.
The ink was christened “Sulekha” meaning beautiful writing. All the members of the family contributed to this
endeavour. The women folk took charge of the production while the male members took up the marketing activity.
In 1936, Sulekha opened a showroom at the Mahatma Gandhi Road. During that time Shri Nani Gopal Maitra was
offered a teaching job in the Calcutta University. The entire earning was invested in the expansion of the
business. In 1938, a new factory was opened at the Bowbazar area of Kolkata to cater to the increasing
Sulekha was like a movement in pre-independence India. Many enterprising individuals were inspired by the
success story of Sulekha. Many others came forward to assist in this unique venture. In 1939, the works
shifted to Kasba area of Kolkata and thereafter moved to Jadavpur in 1946. In the same year the company became
Public Limited, ultimately having more than 1000 shareholders. In the 1960s, two other units of Sulekha were
set up at Sodepur (North 24 Parganas) and Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh). In 1971, during the war with Pakistan,
about 150 people, who came here as refugees, were given employment. In early eighties, Sulekha expanded
further in India and abroad with several governments from different countries of South Asia and Africa
inviting Sulekha to set up their own writing ink and writing instrument-manufacturing units. During that
period, there were more than 550 employees of Sulekha.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond its control, Sulekha Works was forced to close down in the late
eighties. After a long period of closure, finally, the company again restarted its operations from November
2006. Most of the items had to be reinvented using new and improved raw materials, and Sulekha has again
become the most preferred brand of the intelligentsia for its high quality products.