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Margo Soaps - A journey from Calcutta Chemical Company to Jyothy Labs

The partition of Bengal in 1905 had turned out to be a noteworthy event in the history of India as it had exposed the hidden agenda of the British (i.e "Divide & Rule" policy) and thus given rise to various nationalist activities including the swadeshi movement which in turn gave birth to several indigenous products & brands.


It was during such anti-British sentiment that Khagendra Chandra Das (Swapan Dasgupta who is now a Member of Rajya Sabha, is his grandson), a young Indian nationalist equipped with a degree from the prestigious Stanford University give up lucrative job offers from MNCs and chose to become part of the national cause.


After an extensive market survey, he decided to set up a Chemical company, but soon realized that he would need more specialized knowledge for it, and hence undertook an intensive course at a Japanese University. After the course, he turned his attention to Ayurveda, where he came across the benefits of Neem, which became the foundation for his swadeshi venture.


He finally established Calcutta Chemical Company in 1916, and carried out experiments on Neem, which was found in abundance in the Indian subcontinent. After extensive research, he finally produced a neem based soap in 1920, with immense health benefits which could be afforded by all classes. Since Neem also means Margosa, he decided to name it "Margo Soap".


Margo soap turned out to be an instant hit, as millions of Indians who were already aware of Neem's benefits embraced it wholeheartedly. Moreover, it was marketed as a herbal soap with anti-bacterial & anti-fungal properties as well, which further enhanced its hygiene quotient. Thanks to Das' ambitious vision & tireless efforts, Calcutta Chemicals quickly rose to prominence as a pan-India brand, with manufacturing facilities setup in different parts of the subcontinent for efficient logistics & cost management.


Over time, as Calcutta Chemical Company got into financial difficulties, it ended up selling most of its brands including Margo to aggressive MNCs. However, despite its new owners, Margo managed to retain its top position in the herbal soap segment, and continued to grow. After changing several hands (mergers & acquisitions), Margo finally went into the stable hands of Jyothy Labs (Ujala), which has been aggressively marketing it not only in India, but also all over the world by proudly displaying its "Made in India" tag, thus keeping the swadeshi spirit & legacy of Khagendra Chandra Das still alive.

Story by
Guru Prasad

Guruprasad (or “GP” in short) is a Chief Engineer & Technology Mentor by profession and spends a...

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