During the 1930s, the Swadeshi movement was picking pace and Indians were boycotting foreign goods in favour of Indian products, as a form of protest against the colonisers.
Recognising the demand for a swadeshi alternative, three brothers — Suren, Kiran, and Hemen Roy, started Bengal Lamps Limited in Kolkata to manufacture and sell electric bulbs in India.
This company was once among the first few that ushered the Swadeshi movement to topple Britain’s economic hold on India.
When the trio decided to launch the business, Suren and Kiran were working as professors at the Faculty of Engineering College in Jadavpur and Hemen was an administrator.
Unlike the gas lamps, the carbon arc lamps, or the Philips bulbs that were installed only in areas resided by the European settlers, the Bengal Lamps bulbs catered to Indians from middle and lower-income backgrounds.
Fueled by the Swadeshi movement, their sales picked up threatening even the monopoly of the foreign company, Philips. With increasing demand, they started a second factory in Jadavpur.
For many years, the Bengal Lamps dominated the market. Their popularity rose and they became a national brand in the 1970s after establishing their factory in Bengaluru.
However, with rising competition from newer companies in the electric bulb business, Bengal Lamps began to falter.
From building market pressures, financial hiccups, and controversies with management and workers’ union, the company faced several challenges and eventually shut down in 1989.
In tatters today, the brick brown doors and the Bengal Lamps Pukur (pond) are the only remnants of its glorious industrial past.