Sarkar, Nilratan

Sarkar, Nilratan (1861-1943) was a medical practitioner, philanthropist, an educationist and entrepreneur. His father Nandalal Sarkar came from a poor kayastha family of Jessore and settled later at Joynagar, Khulna. Born on 1 October 1861 at Netra in the district of 24-Parganas, Nilratan passed the Entrance examination in 1876 from the local school and received the vernacular diploma in medicine in 1879 or 1880 from the Campbell medical school. He graduated in 1885 and taught in a school for sometime. He took his MB, MA and MD degrees from the Calcutta University successively in 1888, 1889 and 1890.

In 1888 Nilratan married Nirmala, the daughter of Girishchandra Majumdar, a Brahma missionary of East Bengal and became a Brahma. He started his career as a private practitioner and soon established himself as a successful practitioner and his fees were gradually raised from Rs. 2 to Rs. 64. He showed a keen sense of social compassion by treating poor patients free and providing them generously with food and medicine.

He was the chief organiser of the Calcutta Medical Club, an Association of western educated indigenous practitioners and remained its president for 17 years. He also played a pioneering role in the establishment of the Indian Medical Association and remained for a considerable time the Editor-in-Chief of the journal of the Association.

He founded a non-Government College for medicine in 1895, which came to be known as Calcutta Medical School and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Bengal in 1904. The school branch gave training for 4 years in vernacular while the other section gave instructions through the medium of English for five years. The later section was transformed into a full-fledged Medical College known as the Carmichael Medical College in 1916 and received university recognition in 1917. In 1918, the 'Medical Education Society' was formed to conduct the affairs of this school. Nilratan became its president in 1922 and remained in the position till 1941. He was one of the enthusiastic founders of the Science College of the Calcutta University and the National Council of Education, which was formed during the anti-partition movement in Bengal. He was closely associated with the indian association for the cultivation of science.

Nilratan was also politically active and remained a member of the indian national congress from 1890 to 1919. His broad academic interests made him serve the Calcutta University in different capacities. He was the Vice Chancellor from 1919 to 1921 and served as the President of the Calcutta University's Council of Post-Graduate Teaching in Arts from 1924 to 1927 and also served as the president of the Post-Graduate teaching in Science from 1924 to 1943. Nilratan was awarded the honorary DCL and LLD degrees of the Oxford and the Edinburg Universities respectively. In 1940 the Calcutta University conferred on him the DSc degree.

Nilratan's interest in the all-round development of his country led him to invest money in different industrial projects like the establishment of the Rangamati Tea Company, National Soap Factory, and National Tannery Company. He was a director of the Boot and Equipment Factory for some time. Dr Nilratan Sarkar died on 18 May 1943. [Sujata Mukherjee]