B.R. Kalita & Company

 "He started his entrepreneurial journey by selling small items like pencils, pen, ink, eraser, exercise book etc in a makeshift stall under a big tree." 

By Bhaskar Kalita, Contributor

 

Standing in the midst of the eternally beautiful town of Tezpur, at Chowk Bazaar, Main Road this entrepreneurial venture is presently in its centenary year. Established around the year 1916 in the small town of Tezpur by a young budding entrepreneur named Bhabi Ram Kalita, it has stood firm through the times. Probably one among the oldest existing business establishments of the state, this enterprise has been dealing in books and stationery items and serving the society for the last hundred years.

 

The founding proprietor B.R. Kalita hailed from Bhadra, a small village in Nalbari district of Assam. He was the son of Dehiram Kalita, a farmer in his native village. Bhabiram moved to Tezpur in 1914, seeking respite for his family affected by devastating floods every year. He joined his distant relative at Tezpur and started helping him in his business. Bhabiram was enrolled at the Tezpur Academy School where he studied till the 6th standard and then left his studies in search of livelihood. He started his entrepreneurial journey by selling small items like pencils, pen, ink, eraser, exercise book etc in a makeshift stall under a big tree. Later, he began selling few books along with the writing materials. Soon book lovers of the town like Padmanath Gohain Baruah, Dandinath Kalita, Banikanta Sharma, Dharma Das Choudhary and others started visiting his stall regularly. Within a few years he laid his hands on publishing. He was one of the dozen publishers of Assam of that time. When Padmanath Gohain Baruah became the first civil chairman of Tezpur Municipal Board in 1922, he allotted a small room at the Municipal Chowk Bazaar to Bhabiram to establish his business.  

 

This was a huge source of encouragement for him and with renewed vigor and enthusiasm he concentrated more on book publishing. He began publishing books of authors like Padmanath Gohain Baruah, Dandinath Kalita, Padmeshwar Borthakur, Banikanta Sarma, Ibrahim Ali, Gangaram Das, Dharma Das Chowdhary and many others. One of his published books Baidya Amar written by Gangaram Das Tehsildar, a book on natural remedy for various ailments is still available in the market. It is to be remembered that back then most of the books were printed at Calcutta. Bhabiram contemplated establishing a printing press of his own and in the year 1948, he set up the Bharati Press with help from Mr. Nagendra Bhattacharjee, an experienced fellow press owner. Bharati Press soon became a prominent printing press in the north bank of Brahmaputra.

 

Bhabiram Kalita was married to Promila Kalita. They had 8 daughters and 4 sons to add to their joy. Unfortunately, Bhabiram Kalita got ill and was laid up in the hospital. Although, he was under treatment of renowned doctor, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, his health worsened and he breathed his last in the year 1958. The sudden death of the prime mover of the family created a huge vacuum and consequently the business suffered. It was natural for any unorganized small sector business to suffer at such rough patches. But his successors boldly faced the challenges that came their way. Bharati Press was later looked after by his eldest son Mr. Prafulla Kalita (it has recently been shut down). Late Probodh Kalita and Mr. Basanta Kalita followed in their father’s footsteps and expanded the business. Late Probodh Kalita set up M/s Citizen Sports while the youngest sibling Mr. Basanta Kalita took over M/s B.R. Kalita & Co. and has been successful in keeping alive the family tradition of serving the society through their century old business establishment. Another son, Dr. Pradip Kalita chose the medical profession to do the same. In the hundredth year of B.R. Kalita & Co. I pay my heartfelt tribute to an outstanding individual whose visionary zeal took a small sector business establishment to newer heights.  

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