PHARMACY EDUCATION - Great Men of Indian Pharmacy


Dr Ravinder N. Kaul

Abstract: As compared to western countries, pharmacy in India in the twentieth century and before that was in a very underdeveloped state. It needed a long drawn-out struggle to improve its lot. Many professionals have contributed to the development of pharmacy profession in the country. The contributions of some of these luminaries are so remarkable that their works need a special attention. This article profiles the lives and achievements of these great men who have made pharmacy in India.


The history of India shows many systems of medicine existing at the same time, from the Indian Ayurveda and Siddha, and the Unani system from Western Asia, to the new systems brought during European colonization. Today, although traditional systems of medicine continue to be practiced in India with state support, the mainstay of the official public health care system is the internationally recognized system of medical treatment known as allopathic or modern medicine. During British rule the new medical profession became well organized, while pharmacy stood neglected.

The present progress of pharmacy education, the pharmaceutical profession and industrial developments in India is a result of the concentrated efforts of many intellectuals and visionaries of the country who worked tirelessly for the profession. The contributions of some of these distinguished personalities of pharmacy are so great that their names and works need a particular description. I have selected eight names out of the literature of pharmaceutical History of India, who according to me have left a deep impact on building pharmacy education, profession and other aspects of pharmacy in the country. The purpose was to restore these key individuals to their rightful place in the pharmacy history of India. Each one of them in their own way have made significant contributions for the organisation of the profession, development of pharmaceutical education and sciences, industry, statutory control on drugs, pharmacy practice and other spheres of pharmacy. The achievements of these great men of Indian pharmacy and other builders and awareness creators of modern pharmacy have created that illumination, the fruits of which we are enjoying today in the pharmaceutical progress of India.


Jyotish Chandra Ghosh (1870-1957)


As the pharmaceutical developments started in India during the beginning of the 20th century, it comes out that the period 1918-1928 in particular was largely J.C.Ghosh’s decade of spearheading the cause of pharmacy and pharmaceutical developments in the country. He made significant contributions towards pharmaceutical and allied fields during his time. In his professional career, Ghosh was a late starter. After his early education in Bengal, he had a six month’s practical training in the manufacture of drugs and of leather at Government factories in Calcutta and Kanpur. He was deputed by Government of India to University of Manchester (UK) in 1910 and graduated in pharmacy in 1912 at the age of 40. On return to India in1912, he was appointed as a pharmaceutical chemist at Medical Stores Department, Govt. of India, Madras (1912-1918). Thereafter, he established School of Chemical Technology, Calcutta in 1918, and his personal drive and perseverance kept the school running for over two decades (till 1940). Through this school, he spread the cause of pharmacy in India; his major interests remained pharmaceutical and technological education, pharmaceutical and chemical industry, and drugs and pharmacy legislations. Ghosh was interested in education problems and reconstruction of education in India in general and wrote some respective booklets. His interest gravitated more towards pharmaceutical education and training. He dreamt of the School of Chemical Technology, Calcutta, becoming a nucleus for development of an organisation corresponding to that of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Besides he drew attention to dispensing, analysis and manufacturing aspects of pharmacy. The School of Chemical Technology, though also covering training for other technical vocations, offered facilities for instructions in pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacy proper.

Ghosh also brought awareness of the indigenous drugs in India. He wrote and laid emphasis on the scope of scientific investigations of herbal drugs, drug cultivation, extractions of alkaloids, galenical preparations and for statutory control of drugs and necessity for training personnel for analytical and manufacturing work. His first pamphlet on Indigenous Drugs of India (1918) established his credentials as pharmaceutical technologist and professional of merit.

It was first in 1918 that J.C. Ghosh raised his voice at lack of statutory control on drugs and their being no surety for the consumers to get the genuine drug. He continued with his vigorous campaign for a Pharmacy and Poisons Act. Ghosh addressed communications to the Government of India in 1929, bringing to their notice several editorial and newspaper coverage on this subject published in professional journals and newspapers about deteriorating situation in drug control and pharmacy in India. Ultimately, this led to the appointment of Drugs Enquiry Committee in 1930 under the chairmanship of Sir Ram Nath Chopra. In 1940, the Government of India introduced a comprehensive Drugs Bill in the legislative Assembly to regulate the import, manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs. Ghosh who had been advocating the requirement of the statutes for over two decades had a feeling of satisfaction and also suggested a Pharmacy Act and a central Pharmacy Bill.

J. C. Ghosh was elected a Fellow of Chemical Society, London in 1912 and his name remained on the Society’s register till 1929. Ghosh summed up his work and views in his updated books, Indigenous Drugs of India (1940) and Technical Education (1943). In spite of a lot of his initial work and contributions for the profession of pharmacy, the name of Jyotish Chandra Ghosh faded away from the pharmacy profession in India as the forgotten and unsung pioneer of pharmacy.


Ram Nath Chopra (1882-1973)


Amongst the men who have adorned the Indian medico-pharmaceutical profession in the 20th century, Ram Nath Chopra occupies the foremost position. He was pioneer in the study of indigenous drugs of India and an outstanding luminary in the field of medical education and research. He is widely acclaimed as the Father of Indian Pharmacology.

After his early education in India, Ram Nath Chopra got his medical education at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. He had the honour to work under W.E.Dixon, the first Professor of Pharmacology in the newly established Chair in Cambridge and obtained his M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) in 1908 and M.R.C.P. (Member of Royal College of Physicians) from London. After his return to India in 1909, he joined Indian Medical Service (1909-1921) and got the rank of Major in the army. In 1921, he took an appointment to the first Chair of Pharmacology in the newly established School of Tropical Medicine, Calcutta as Professor of Pharmacology and became its Director in 1931. Simultaneously he took the Chair of Pharmacology at Calcutta Medical College. These appointments afforded him an excellent opportunity for placing pharmacology on the ‘Medical Map of India’. Professor Chopra did pioneer work on the indigenous drugs at the Tropical School of Medicine. From the India’s vast and varied vegetations, many substitutes for expensive remedies were discovered and brought into use. This opened great potentialities of research in pharmaceutical industry and showed that a limited number of remedies deserve the reputation they have earned as cure.

In addition, Chopra devoted himself to studies of important disease problems of India and evolved new lines of treatment with indigenous drugs. He also played great attention to drug addiction and wide spread abuse of such drugs as opium, cannabis, cocaine and alcohol, which were prevalent in many parts of India and attracted international attention. He produced a wealth of material to combat and treat their deleterious effects. He was for many years member of Narcotic Drugs Commission of World Health Organisation (WHO). Chopra also laid emphasis on drug assays and quality control of drugs particularly those requiring biological assays, as Indian climatic conditions lead to deterioration of even standard plant preparations. There was also a problem of adulteration of drugs in Indian market. He recommended state control on the manufacture, quality control and sale of drugs. While teaching pharmacology at the Calcutta Medical College, Professor Chopra inspired a number of promising Indian scientists to take up pharmacology as a career and encouraged them to undertake scientific studies of Indian herbal remedies. On retirement from the School of Tropical Medicine in 1941, Chopra carried his work on indigenous drugs in his home state of Jammu & Kashmir, where he established Drug Research Laboratory and an experimental drug farms with an attached pilot manufacturing plant. Chopra wanted the utilisation of the local resources for the indigenous production of drugs to meet the need of India’s growing pharmaceutical industry so that these drugs can reach masses of India at lower price, and thus reduce the cost of treatment of diseases.

The Government of India appointed a Drugs Enquiry Committee (1930-1931) to study the trade and practice of drugs in Indian market. Chopra was appointed as chairman of the Committee; its history making report made cogent recommendations, which paved the way for drugs and pharmacy legislations, pharmacopoeial publications and development of pharmacy profession in the country. The first Drugs Act was passed in 1940 and the first Indian Pharmacopoeia Committee was constituted in 1948 which prepared Pharmacopoeia of India (Indian Pharmacopoeia 1955) and 1960 Supplement.  Subsequently the new pharmacopoeia followed in 1966. Chopra continued to work in all the Committees in various positions.

He published over 300 research papers and wrote a number of books on medicine and medicinal plants. Chopra’s Indigenous Drugs of India is today a standard work of plant medicine and a monumental contribution of his work on Indian medicinal plants. Ram Nath Chopra received honours from all parts of the world, in India, UK, USA, Belgian and Germany. He was elected Honorary Fellow of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics by the respective Societies of these countries. Besides he got a number of awards and distinctions in India and abroad and was promoted to the rank of Brevet–Colonel by his Majesty King George V of Great Britain in 1935. He was conferred Knighthood by his Majesty King George VI of Great Britain in 1941 for his outstanding contributions to medical sciences. After his death in 1973, Indian Pharmacological Society, of which Chopra was a founder president in 1969, instituted Chopra Memorial Oration in 1976. In his honour Indian Post and Telegraph Department issued a commemorative stamp on 17 August 1983.

Brevet-Colonel Sir Ram Nath Chopra has left behind a rich legacy and a deep impact on several medical and pharmaceutical fields in India.


Mahadeva Lal Schroff (1902-1971)


Mahadeva Lal Schroff played a great role in building the pharmacy education in India and also contributed greatly to the developments of other aspects of pharmacy profession in the country during the years 1930-1970. He is rightly called as Father of Pharmacy Education in India.

Born in Darbhanga (Bihar) in the family of Saraf’s; he germanised his surname to Schroff when he went abroad. After his intermediate examination in 1920, he joined the Engineering College, Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He was inspired by the lectures delivered in 1921 at BHU by Swamy Satya Deva, who was reformist and political leader. Certain lectures of the Swami were criticized by the Engineering College principal, Charles A. King and subsequently some students of the college headed by Schroff went on strike. Schroff was asked to leave the institution as punishment. He left India soon after this and sailed to Hong Kong where he stayed for sometime and found no future. He sailed to Japan and stayed there for 15 months. In Japan, he was able to get a job as teacher of Hindi at the Osaka Foreign Languages School; simultaneously he worked on the editorial staff of an English Daily Osaka Mainchi. He could collect a good amount of money and from there proceeded to USA for higher studies. He studied at Cornell University and qualified in Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) with honours in chemistry and microbiology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1927. He worked for sometime in USA and returned to India in 1929.

After a brief period of freedom struggle in which he underwent imprisonment for six months in Hazaribagh jail (Bihar), he joined BHU as assistant professor of industrial / organic chemistry in 1930. The Drugs Enquiry Committee appointed by Government of India laid the foundation of drug and pharmacy statutes and the development of pharmacy profession in general. The need for training suitable pharmaceutical manpower was an utmost urgency. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946) founder and vice-chancellor of BHU realized the importance of the report and assigned the task of development of pharmaceutical education at the University to Schroff. Schroff introduced pharmaceutical chemistry as the principal subject in B.Sc. course in 1932. From 1934, an integrated 2-year B.Sc. course with subject’s pharmaceutical chemistry, chemistry and pharmacognosy was introduced. A regular B.Pharm. course made a beginning from July

1937, which was the pharmacy course for the first time in India. This was the first and the foremost creation of Schroff, which earned him the title of the pioneer and Father of Pharmacy Education in India. The BHU also instituted research degree of M.Pharm. from July 1940. Schroff thus firmly established the pharmaceutical education at BHU for over a decade and left the institution in 1943 to join Birla Borthers Ltd. as their Chief Chemist and Research Officer. The doctoral studies were also introduced in the fifties and the Department of Pharmaceutics at BHU attained a status of world level institution of pharmaceutical education and research. Schroff’s dream was thus fulfilled and he could see the growth of the institution in his life time. Schroff also played a great role in building and establishing pharmaceutical education at Birla College Pilani, University of Saugar and Jadavpur University. The vision to have a Central Institute of Pharmacy was first formulated by Schroff in many of his writings and speeches he delivered since 1954. The projected Central Institute of Pharmacy remained on Schroff’s mind, as years later he expressed concern for its having now became a reality. Four decades later it got established as National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) at Mohali (Punjab), but Schroff could not live to see the realisation of his project.

Schroff played a great role in professional/statutory organisations in India and his services were utilized by the Government of India in various capacities including in Drugs Technical Advisory Board, Indian Pharmacopoeial List Committee and Health Panel of the Planning Commision etc. He founded Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association (IPCA), which exists till date and organizes annual conferences while professional activities are controlled by its counterpart Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA). He was elected IPA president for 1948 and 1949. He was elected the first vice-president of Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) in 1949 and later on became the first elected president in1954. Schroff was president of Indian Hospital Pharmacist’s Association (IHPA) for two terms in 1966 and 1967. By 1950, he was among the towering personality in pharmacy of his time in India.

Schroff showed a very deep sensitivity of the central role of pharmacy education and pharmacy practice in public health issues, be it in hospital or community pharmacy, quality assurances of manufacture, marketing or distribution of drugs or even drug usage–no facet of pharmacy profession escaped his attention.

Schroff started United Provinces’ Pharmaceutical Association in 1935 which took the shape of IPA in 1939, with branches all over the country. He himself edited Indian Journal of Pharmacy (IJP) founded in 1939 for 4 years. He started his own periodical Indian Pharmacist from 1945 for a further of ten years. Schroff was elected first president of Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTI) in 1966 and started Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (IJPE) which he edited from 1968 till his last.

Schroff remained very conscious of the need of good textbooks, which could be economical for students and provide quality contents. He himself was a very good book author. Schroff wrote, got printed and published over a score of books on pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacy comprising nearly 6000 pages, single handed. He left behind a blazing trail of 23 textbooks which he authorised during his lifetime. This is an all times record in pharmacy circles, of one man’s scholastic capacity, perseverance and hard work.

Prof. M. L. Schroff (as he was widely known) was a vibrant and a robust personality; he had vigour, boldness and clarity of thought and action. He was a great genius, a wonderful visionary, a Hercules at job and above all rare specimen of a firm yet gentle human friend and colleague. He will remain a beacon of inspiration to Indian Pharmacists as the pioneer who lit the torch of pharmaceutical education in the country and played a great role in the organisation of the pharmacy profession in India.


Bishnupada Mukerji (1903-1979)


Bishnupada Mukerji was an eminent medico-pharmaceutical professional of the 20th century. He graduated in medicine from Calcutta Medical College in 1927 and chose pharmacology as his special subject. He had the privilege to work with Col. Sir Ram Chopra at the School of Tropical Medicine, Calcutta on indigenous drugs and produced outstanding work on medicinal plants. A particular mention may be made on his work on Rauwolfia serpentina, a plant which gained prominence two decades later as a source of reserpine.

B.Mukerji was a member of the Drugs Enquiry Committee with R.N.Chopra as chairman and Mukerji worked as assistant secretary. The Committee made comprehensive recommendations to ensure availability of drugs of quality. As a result of this report, Biochemical Standardisation Laboratory (BSL) and statutory Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) were created in which Mukerji was deeply associated after his return abroad. After several years of research on Indian indigenous drugs, a fellowship from Rockefeller Foundation enabled him to proceed abroad to work at laboratories in China and USA. He obtained the degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in pharmacology from the University of Michigan (USA) in 1936. During his stay abroad, he also visited institutions of interest in Japan, USA, Canada, England and continental Europe.

On his return home in 1936, he worked for 15 years at BSL and statutory CDL and further built these institutions with his professional accomplishments. He conceived a national institute of drug research, and the follow-up there got to be established the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) at Lucknow, the development of which he guided as Director for 12 years. The work published in this laboratory on drug research and medicinal plants got international attention and the Lucknow institute became a pilgrimage for pharmacologists not only in India but as well for foreign scientists.

During the years of his being at the helm of BSL, CDL, and CDRI, though he was involved on the management of these institutions, but he also maintained his interest in biomedical investigations in a wide range of problems. Dr Mukerji expertise was very much in demand, in particular by several of the universities, for work on compilation of official Indian Pharmacopoeial List, Pharmaceutical and Drug Committees of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and subcommittees, the Drugs Technical Advisory Board as an ex-officio member, pharmaceutical organisations and in several other ways. He with his colleagues brought out the Indian Pharmaceutical Codex. After independence of India, he was associated in the making of the Pharmacopoeia of India (1955) and in 1960 Supplement and the Pharmacopoeia of India (1966). He was a member of the first Indian Pharmacopoeia Committee formed in 1948 and reconstituted in 1955. He worked in different capacities on Indian Pharmacopoeia Committee and in 1958 became its chairman. Mukerji served as a member of the Expert Committee on International Pharmacopoeia of World Health Organisation (WHO). He reviewed the first edition of International Pharmacopoeia in two volumes, published during 1951 and 1956 respectively. After his retirement from CDRI, Lucknow in 1963, he became Director of Chittranjan National Cancer Research Centre at Calcutta and developed the institute into a leading centre of cancer chemotherapy.

Where Dr Mukerji significantly helped in the development of pharmacology in India, his contributions in the pharmaceutical discipline in the country were equally important. There was no part of the pharmaceutical activity and profession on which he did not leave an enduring impact. He actively took part in the development of the pharmaceutical education, drug research, drug industry, drug control administration, propagation of pharmacopoeial and related compendia, pharmaceutical fora etc, during the later part of colonial period and first two decades of independent India. He was elected president of Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) for the years 1954 and 1955, and received the coveted Squibb Award from IPA in 1961. Dr B. Mukerji received many honours and recognitions in the country and abroad. He was awarded Padma Shri in 1962 by Government of India for his services towards development of scientific research on biomedical field.

Looking to his role in building pharmacology and pharmacy, undeniably Dr Bishnupada Mukerji stands tall as a medico-pharmaceutical professional of great merit of our land.


Manohar Lal Khorona (1909-1967)


Manohar Lal Khorona was a pioneer pharmaceutical educationist, scientist, journalist and one of the Bombay’s foursome team of leading builders of modern pharmacy. The three decades M. L. Khorona worked as an academic and professional, was the period during which the foundation of modern pharmacy in India was solidified and the building of the superstructure started. After his early education from Panjab University and B.Sc. (1931), he went to USA for higher studies. He qualified for Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (1933) and Master of Science (1934) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. On his return to India in 1935, he spent some academic period of teaching pharmaceutics, first at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) with Prof. M.L. Schroff (2 years), and then at Andhra University, Waltair, where he was associated with famous chemist T.R. Seshadri ( 6years). In 1943, he joined the University Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT), Bombay University, first as lecturer, then promoted to Reader (1945) and became Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry (1958); he held the position till his demise. Professor Khorona taught at UDCT more than 300 graduates for their B.Sc. (Tech.) degree. He was also a recognised postgraduate teacher of Bombay University for the Faculty of Chemical Technology as well as Faculty of Science in organic chemistry. He devoted himself whole heartedly to the cause of education, B.Sc. (Tech.) course contents continued to be upgraded. The M.Sc. (Tech.) degree programme by course work and research was made operational. It was through his efforts that the B.Pharm. course was introduced in 1958 and M. Pharm. course was also started afterwards.  Prof. Khorona successfully trained 50 students for their degree of M.Sc., Ph.D., M.Sc. (Tech.) and Ph.D. (Tech.). He showed great versatility as a scientific experimenter. His group tackled research problems in diverse areas, including natural products, analysis, pharmaceutical formulations, synthesis of potential medicinal agents and their evaluation, and technology of drug production.

Khorona remained actively involved with the affairs of Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) and is Bombay / Maharashtra State Branch and IPA’s official organ, the Indian Journal of Pharmacy (IJP). He was on the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) and Bombay State Pharmacy Council, constituted according to Pharmacy Act 1948 and played active roles there. He edited IJP from 1946 till 1954 and laid its strong foundation by making it a monthly periodical. In Khorona’s hand, the editorial page became a powerful tool of championing the cause of Indian pharmacy. He also contributed substantially by his active participation in the functioning of professional and statutory bodies. Professor Khorona was very concerned about the shortage of imported drugs after World War II and encouraged the manufacture of indigenous drugs. The cost and quality of drugs remained in his mind and he also gave his views on the amendment of patent laws. On the country becoming independent, the Indian Pharmacopoeia Committee was constituted and Khorona remained on the Committee for 1955 edition of the pharmacopoeia. He was appointed a member of the Pharmaceutical Drugs Research Committee of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.  He remained conscious of the state of pharmacy practice, plight of pharmacist and the problems they faced. He continued with his campaign as IJP editor about the requirement and training of pharmacist and establishment and financing of pharmacy colleges.

Professor Khorana died only at the age of 58. M.L. Khorona’s role in profession building through his vocational duties as pharmaceutical academic and a scientist was very significant. To perpetuate the memory of Khorona, the IPA council proposed the “Professor M. L. Khorona Memorial Lecture”, to be delivered every year at the time of the Indian Pharmaceutical Congress sessions.


Homi Ruttonji Nanji (1909-1967)


Homi Ruttonji Nanji was an educator who worked in the professional and statutory bodies and contributed to pharmacy practice. His leading role in drug control, drug analysis and promotion of drug industry are well recognised.

Homi Ruttonji belonged to Parsi Nanji family. After his early studies in Bombay, he joined Imperial College, London in 1930 for research studies. He completed his doctorate (Ph. D.) in 1932 at the age of 22. He carried his research further at Imperial College for 2 years. For nine years (1933-1942), he worked with F.W. Edwards, Public Analyst for the City of Westminster, Royal Borough of Kennsington and the Metropolitan Borough of Kennsington, in the Institute of Chemistry and later became Chief Assistant to Public Analyst. Dr Nanji was elected Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry in 1936 and gained a valuables experience in the analysis of food and drugs. He registered for B.Pharm. studies at Chelsea Polytechnic and got the degree from the University of London in 1943. Nanji now carried a doctorate in chemistry and B. Pharm. degree and returned back to India in late 1943.

Dr Nanji joined as Reader in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in the University Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT), University of Bombay in 1943 and remained up to 1945. During his tenure at UDCT and also later, he continued to keep abiding interest in the pharmaceutical education and also promoted the cause during his tenure of a decade at Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) of which he became vice-president in1954. Dr Nanji played a significant role for the establishment of Central Institute of Pharmacy, which latter got materialized as NIPER at Mohali (Punjab) in 1994. Nanji served the cause of pharmacy through Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA). He was IPA president for the years 1946 and 1947. Dr Nanji again became IPA president for the year 1956 and 1957. Nanji regularly contributed to the President’s page of the official organ Indian Journal of Pharmacy (IJP). He touched upon several issues which were of professional  interest.

Dr Nanji remained on several of the bodies constituted under the provisions of Pharmacy Act 1948, Drugs Act 1940, Drugs and Cosmetic Act 1940. He served as member of Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) for different terms. He was a member and the chairman for two terms of Development Council for Drugs and Pharmaceuticals created in pursuance of powers conferred by Industries (Development and Regulations) Act 1951. Dr Nanji was a member of Pharmaceutical Enquiry Committee (1954) set up by the Central Government. He was on the officially sponsored pharmaceutical delegation which went to U.S.S.R. and certain other European countries in 1956 and led a pharmaceutical delegation which visited western countries and Japan in 1963.

Nanji felt concerned about unhealthy state of drugs trade in the country and spoke endlessly on the subject and made valuable suggestions, to overcome this malpractice. He played a great role in Drugs Control and supported the recommendations of Pharmaceutical Enquiry Committee, having bearing on standardisation, control of quality and administration and made a plea to the Government of India to implement the recommendations.

During his long tenure of working in the Public Analyst’s Laboratories at London, conduct of different kind of analysis became Nanji’s regular routine. He was very concerned about the analytical control of drugs and pharmaceuticals and quality control. He worked on the pharmacopoeial subcommittees looking to analytical standards. He made a case for the Indian Universities to lay emphasis on improving and expanding instructions in analytical chemistry.

After working in an academic position in UDCT for a couple of years, Nanji moved on to accept assignment in the industry and worked in various positions. He had an active liaison with Indian Chemical Manufacturers Association (ICMA), which had made a beginning in 1938 and he was founder of the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI). He played a great role in the development of drug industry in the country and created awareness of the development of this sector. Dr Nanji had come to assume leadership in pharmaceutical industry. He continued membership of the statutory body the Development Council for Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, right from its inception in 1955 and his becoming its chairman for two terms (1961-1965) confirmed the level of his stature in the industrial circles.

Dr Nanji died in 1967 prematurely at age of 58 by massive heart attack. His friends, colleagues and admirers in the profession mourned his demise and recalled facets of his activities and contributions to pharmacy profession. Homi Ruttonji Nanji was a great son of Indian pharmacy.


Bhupendra Vallabhbhai Patel (1914-1974)


Bhupendra Vallabhbhai Patel left a deep impression in building modern pharmacy in India. He played a prominent role in the development and consolidation of pharmacy profession. His role in pharmaceutical forums, statutory bodies, pharmacy practice, structuring and development of drugs control and promotion of pharmaceutical education are well recognised.

After his early education in India, Bhupendra V. Patel proceeded to England in 1937 and got his B.Pharm. degree from the University of London in1940. He registered with Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in 1941 and became the Fellow of the Society in 1954. On his return home in 1940, he worked around a decade at the Department of Pharmacology of the Haffkine Institute, Bombay and established himself as an accomplished pharmacologist. During this period, he also got actively involved in the development of pharmaceutical professional activities. He became a member of Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) and took active part in its deliberation and also came in the Editorial Board of the Indian Journal of Pharmacy (IJP). Patel was selected IPA-vice president for three terms between from 1952-1964 and he held the office of the president of IPA for the period 1964-1966. He organised the annual conference of Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association (IPCA). Patel had the honour of twice becoming general president of Indian Pharmaceutical Congress (IPC), at Pilani (1963) and New Delhi (1973). For several years, he associated with international forum, the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Association (CPA) and IPA nominated Patel as delegate at London conference. He was also a delegate of IPA for the first CPA conference at Melbourne (Australia) in 1972 and he was elected vie-president of the Association.

The development of pharmacy profession remained very much on B.V. Patel’s mind even when he was engrossed with research in pharmacology at the Haffkine Institute. He made his cause for pharmacy practice through his long membership of the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) for 25 years (1949-1974). His contributions to the functioning of PCI were significant. Patel became a pioneer and leading figure in structuring and developing the drug control in the country. He surveyed the historical background related to the statutes for control of drugs and pharmacy and gave expression to his views on several of the legislative aspects. He elaborated on administrative and testing components of the drugs control. He was well prepared as he became Drug Controller of the State of Bombay in 1949 and started organising the administration and ancillary facilities. In 1959, he was appointed the first Director of Drugs Control Administration of Bombay State. His work in this capacity reached a stage that it got to be acclaimed as model for other states. He was a member of two committees constituted by Government of India to look into the unsatisfactory enforcement of Drugs and Cosmetics Act in some of the states. Patel spearheaded the movement for shaping the drug control edifice. He became a fatherly figure nationally, to be looked up for advice and guidance on matters pertaining to drug statutes and their operations.

B.V. Patel had keen interest in promotion of pharmaceutical education, his concern for which came next only to his principal vocation of drugs control. He supported the cause of education through his association with IPA and through his membership of PCI and different of its committees, including Education Regulations Committee. He represented his cause for the establishment of a Central Institute of Pharmacy and continued to highlight the importance of setting up such an Institute. Patel was also involved in the educational activities of the CPA. His contributions to the development of pharmaceutical education in the country are enormous. In his memory IPA Gujarat State Branch together with “Shri B.V. Patel Education Trust” organise every year “Shri B.V. Patel Memorial Lecture”. Through this trust sufficient money was collected for the creation of Shri B.V.Patel Pharmaceutical Education and Research Development Centre (B.V.Patel PERD Centre) at Ahmedabad (Gujarat).

Bhupendra Vallabhbhai Patel was a celebrated pioneer of modern pharmacy in India, who embodied simplicity, humility and professional excellence.


Harkishan Singh (born 1928)


Harkishan Singh has a multifaceted personality. He is a senior member of pharmaceutical fraternity, a distinguished academic, an outstanding medicinal chemist, an active participant in the growth and consolidation of pharmacy profession in India and a pharmaceutical historian of international standing. In the country, no other pharmaceutical professional in its totality has done so much of professional work in various aspects of pharmacy as Harkishan Singh.

He did B.Pharm. from the Panjab University in 1950; M. Pharm. (1952) and Ph.D. (1956) both from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He has worked on the facilities of BHU, University of Saugar and finally at Panjab University Chandigarh, where he became Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1972. He spent around five academic year’s abroad working at the Universities of Maryland (USA), Mississippi (USA) and London (UK). He was the Head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University (1976-1981) and a National Fellow of the University Grants Commission (UGC) at Panjab University, being the only person in pharmaceutical sciences to get this honour from UGC. At present he is Professor Emeritus at the Punjab University, Chandigarh.

Prof. Harkishan Singh has done an extensive research in medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry. He organised a very successful school of research at the Panjab University, output of which earned him fame as an able scientist. 48 candidates worked with him for their master and doctoral thesis. A prominent highlight of the work of Prof. Singh’s research group was the design of a muscle relaxant used at the time of surgery. It went through the testing in animals and also clinically. It was finally given the status of a drug for manufacture and marketing by the Ministry of Health, Government of India. The drug Chandonium Iodide, named after Chandigarh city, was given International Non-proprietary Name (INN) as Candocuronium by the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva. It is rare that a new drug gets discovered in the university laboratories. Chandonium Iodide earned world attention and Harkishan Singh extensively lectured on it in India, USA, Canada, UK, and China. A particular mention may be made of the invited lecturers he delivered at the Harvard Medical School and at the International Symposium on Molecular Structure (1986) sponsored by the International Union of Crystallography at Beijing, China. Prof. Harkishan Singh’s involvement in his academic profession was equally recognised. He introduced extensive instructions in the teaching of medicinal chemistry and continued to write his knowledge on the subject. He has co authored several text books in pharmaceutical sciences, of which mention may be made of the magnum opus Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. 

Prof. Singh has been associated in the working of several professional and statutory organisations and has held important positions with these bodies. He was member of the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) for two terms; PCI Executive Member and a member of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board, Ministry of Health, Government of India. He was president of Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India for two terms (1974-75). He was general president of the Indian Pharmaceutical Congress (1981). He has been a member of Advisory/Editorial Boards of several scientific journals and of Scientific Advisory Councils of some CSIR laboratories. He was member of Organic and Medicinal Research Committee, CSIR; Panel on Technology, UGC; Screening/Expert Committee, Board of Postgraduate Studies in Engineering and Technology, Government of India. He was a member of Standing Committee on Pharmaceutical Education, Federation of Asian Pharmaceutical Association and of Committee on Education in Medicinal Chemistry, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. He was elected Honorary Fellow, Punjab Academy of Sciences (2001).

Prof. Singh has received almost every top academic and professional honour and recognition in India for which, a pharmaceutical personage may hope to qualify. A mention may be made of a few. He is the recipient of Shri Amrut Mody Research Foundation Award, Bombay (1975); Ranbaxy Research Award, New Delhi (1987); Acharya P.C. Ray Memorial Gold Medal (1982); Professor G.P.Srivastava Memorial Award, (1983); Schroff Memorial National Award (1998); Eminent Pharmacists Award (1999); Shri Bhojraj Panjamool Lifetime Achievement Award (2007) and many more.

Professor Harkishan Singh had a dominant role in the establishment and academic structuring of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), at SAS Nagar, Mohali (Punjab), under the aegis of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, Government of India. His vision and farsightedness of this concept have borne fruits. The Government of India has now initiated the establishment of six more such NIPER campuses in the country to produce high quality pharmaceutical manpower to fulfil the suitability of the fast expanding drug industry and profession.

After his superannuation in 1988, Prof. Singh revived his dormant interest on the history of sciences and started exploring history of pharmaceutical developments in India during the last two centuries. He has built a massive collection of archival material through his dozen visits to libraries in India, UK and USA in search of authentic source of material from archives there. Besides he has obtained a lot of material through large correspondence from several libraries, archives and from several individuals. He has organised his collection appropriately into over twelve hundred volumes spread in 2 rooms at his residence. In my opinion it is a largest collection of literature on the pharmaceutical history of India under one roof and Prof. Singh continues to expand the collection. With hard work and tireless devotion, Prof. Singh has contributed significantly to the field of “History of Pharmacy of India and Related Aspects”. His work has been internationally acclaimed. He got elected to the prestigious Académie Internationale d´Historie de la Pharmacie. These research findings have revolutionised the understanding of the history of pharmacy of India during the last 200 years and revealed many unknown documents.

The publications of Prof. Singh include 15 books (with 8 history monographs); 6 book chapters and 16 other review papers; 125 original research papers in medicinal chemistry; 70 research papers on pharmaceutical history; over 100 review articles on pharmaceutical education, professional issues and other topics. 14 patents obtained on heterosteroids go to his credit.

The review articles written by Prof. Singh also deal with pharmaceutical education and research, pharmacy practice, industry, trade, statutory controls on drugs and pharmacy, colonial medicine and pharmacy, pharmaceutical bodies and journals and biographies of some pharmaceutical personalities. He has expressed his views freely and frankly, sometimes even made provocative but always informative, educative, inspiring and all this for the good of pharmacy and science in India. The better status of pharmacy today in India as a whole is the result of sustained and collective efforts made during last half a century by many pharmaceutical luminaries and intellectuals including the substantial efforts of Prof. Singh.

Prof. Singh is a very hard working man. According to him hard work and honesty constitute the key to success in life. This he has always impressed on the generations of students whom he taught or guided during 40 years of his academic career.

Professor Harkishan Singh still remains active and highly mobile even at a ripe age of 82 years. He travels in India and abroad even today and takes part in various pharmaceutical functions and congresses, collects literature on pharmaceutical history and keeps on writing articles and books. He is a living legend and occupies a leading position in the pharmacy of India. He will be remembered by the posterity as a great promoter and accelerator of the modern pharmaceutical education, the profession, and a researcher of repute of experimental science and pharmaceutical history.



  1. H. Singh; History of Pharmacy in India and Related Aspects, Volume 4: Builders and Awareness Creators of Modern Pharmacy 1 Mahadeva Lal Schroff and the Making of Modern Pharmacy (Vallabah Prakashan, Delhi 2005).

  2. R. Kaul; Mahadeva Lal Schroff   Father of Pharmacy Education in India: The Pharma Review 8 (No.46), 83-88 (2010).

  3. H. Singh; History of Pharmacy in India and Related Aspects, Volume 5: Builders and Awareness Creators and Modern Pharmacy 2 (Vallabah Prakashan, Delhi 2008).

  4. R. Kaul; Ram Nath Chopra   Father of Indian Pharmacology: The Pharma Review 8 (No. 43), 37-41 (2010).

  5. H. Singh; History of Pharmacy in India and Related Aspects Volume 6: Builders and Awareness Creators and Modern Pharmacy 3 Medico Pharmaceutical Professionals (Vallabh Prakashan, Delhi 2009).

  6. R. Kaul; History of Modern Pharmacy in India   A Review of the Work of Professor Harkishan Singh: Pharmacy in History 51 (No.1), 34-32 (2009).

  7. H. Singh; History of Pharmacy in India and Related Aspects Volume 7: Builders and Awareness Creators and Modern Pharmacy 4 Sir Ram Nath Chopra Work, Vision and Legacy (Vallabh Prakashan, Delhi 2010).

  8. R. Kaul; Prof. Harkishan Singh   Life, Personality and Contributions: The Pharma Review 7 (No. 37), 141-145 (2008).


Dr. R. N. Kaul worked for German pharmaceutical company Robugen for 33 years, and is presently a consultant on plant medicine.



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