that which helps to write well, well written. For, well written, they said, was half done. Especially when what was being written, was meant primarily to foster the feeling of Nationalism, of self-reliance … of Swadeshi. And write they did, Gandhiji and Rabindranath Tagore among many other stalwarts, with Sulekha inks, which was a child of the times – born in 1934 in Rajshahi district of undivided Bengal (now Bangladesh), the labour of love for the Motherland of two brothers - Sankaracharyya and Nani Gopal Maitra, both freedom fighters.
Sulekha was a voice of protest against the Raj. Sulekha was the spirit of the Freedom Struggle. Sulekha was the flagbearer of self-reliance. Sulekha was the essence of Indian enterprise. Sulekha was the ink that the Nation loved.
Then, the arch-lights shifted as it were and with the decline of the fountain pen, Sulekha too went into a hibernation of sorts. Today we are reinventing ourselves in an effort to relive the times that had brought us into the world. For we realise, that the values that we espoused then are the same values that hold the key to the prosperity of the Nation, for whose creation our forefathers had given their all.
Sulekha is not merely a bottle of Ink. For Sulekha was, Sulekha is and Sulekha will continue to be an indomitable spirit, a symbol of Indian entrepreneurship, a belief that, yes, we can.
Fountain Pen inks have been the mainstay of Sulekha’s product portfolio – its raison d’etre as it were. Today, Sulekha has five main lines of fountain Pen Inks: the Swadeshi (collector’s edition), the Swaraj series with different not so common shades, the Samarpan series with special shades and dedicated to a cause, the Swadhin series with four primary shades for general use and the Hate-Khori set for the beginners.
The first fountain pens were introduced in the 1950’s and were aimed primarily at the school and college goers. The writing implements were also extremely popular with a wide variety of users for their robust make, user-friendliness and dynamic pricing. These pens are highly rare these days and are a rage with collectors.
Gandhiji requests Satish Das Gupta, ex-chemist of Bengal Chemicals to prepare a Swadeshi Ink for his use. Satish Das Gupta makes the ink, names it Krishnadhara and starts selling it through the network of Khadi outlets.
Satish Das Gupta hands over the recipe to Maitra brothers Shankaracharya and Nani Gopal, instructing them to start making the ink commercially and call it Sulekha (there is another version that claims that the name “Sulekha” was coined by none other than poet laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore).
The brothers start ink production first in a make-shift shed in Rajshahi and then shift to continue production and R&D work in their cousin Asutosh Bhattacharyya’s house in Barrackpore.
Sulekha shifts its production base back to Rajshahi where the ladies of the Maitra family take up the task of ink making, while Nani Gopal Maitra worked as a physics teacher by day to spend the evenings perfecting the chemical composition of the ink. Marketing and all other aspects of the business was looked after by the elder brother Shankaracharya Maitra.
Nani Gopal Maitra shifts to Calcutta and opens a showroom in Harrison Road (now MG Road) near Sealdah.
Sulekha shifts to Calcutta. Factory started at 16, Madan Dutta Lane (Bowbazar).