Sarkar, Nalini Ranjan

Sarkar, Nalini Ranjan (1882-1953) businessman, industrialist, public leader, was greatly involved in the political and economic regeneration of Bengal. Born in 1882 in a middle class Kayastha family of greater Mymensingh (now Netrokona) district, he was the son of Chandra Nath Sarkar and Prasannamayee. After passing the Entrance Examination in 1902 from the pogose school, Dhaka, Nalini Ranjan joined the Dhaka jagannath college. Subsequently, he joined the Calcutta City College but could not continue his studies for financial reasons.

Since his early days Nalini Ranjan entertained liberal views. His close contacts with surendranath banerjea, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Motilal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, rabindranath tagore and chitta ranjan das contributed much to the development of his ideas related to nationalism and economic freedom. He joined the movement against the partition of bengal, 1905. In later years, influenced by Gandhi's ideas of non-violence, he participated in the non-cooperation movement in 1920. Personally, he had no grudge against the British, but he had a great dislike for the British Raj.

In the early 1920s, when CR Das and Motilal Nehru founded the Swarajya Party, Nalini Ranjan joined it and soon became one of its leaders. He was, at the same time, involved with the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee. He was a member of the Bengal Legislative Council from 1923 to 1930 and again from 1937 to 1946 as well as Chief Whip of the parliamentary Swarajya Party in Bengal. In the Calcutta session of the indian national congress in 1928, he acted as the Secretary of the Exhibition organised for the occasion. Following the demise of CR Das, he with Dr bidhan chandra roy, Nirmal Chandra Chunder, sarat chandra bose and Tulsi Chandra Goswami dominated the Congress movement in Bengal and constituted what was known as the “Big Five” of the Bengal Congress. He was elected a Councillor of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation in 1932 and became its Mayor in 1935.

In 1936 he with ak fazlul huq organised the krishak praja party and in 1937 joined the first Huq ministry as the Finance Minister. In 1938, he resigned, but later joined the reconstituted ministry. In 1939, Nalini Ranjan Sarkar resigned again, expressing his disappointment with the change in the out-look of the cabinet. He joined the Viceroy';s Executive Council (1941-42) first as Member in-charge of Education, Health and Lands and then as in-chargse of Commerce, Industry and Food. In 1943, he resigned protesting the detention of Gandhi. He was Finance Minister of West Bengal in 1948 and retired from politics in 1952 after officiating as Chief Minister of West Bengal for a few months in 1949.

Nalini Ranjan Sarkar displayed his talents also in the spheres of Commerce and Industry. In 1911, he entered the Hindusthan Cooperative Insurance Society and from a humble position rose to the high position of its General Manager and ultimately became its President, a position he held till his death. A successful industrialist and businessman, he was the President of Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and member of Consultation Committee for revision of Company Law, Central Banking Enquiry Committee, Board of Income Tax Referees, Railway Retrenchment Committee, Separation Council and Board of Economic Enquiry, Research Utilisation Committee and Central Jute Committee. He was a delegate to the Indo-Japanese Trade Conference in 1923. Nalini Ranjan Sarkar was also a Commissioner of the calcutta port and a trustee of the 'Chittaranjan Seva Sadan'.

He also acted as the Vice- President of National Council of Education, Bengal, and contributed to the spread of education in India. He was made a Fellow of the Calcutta University Senate in 1934, a Member of the Court of the University of Dacca in 1940-41 and the President of presidency college Governing Body in 1942. He was the Pro-Chancellor of Delhi University during the period 1941-42. [Raj Sekhar Basu]