|Born||15 November 1896
Savar, Dhaka, Bengal, British India
|Nationality||British Indian (1896–1947)
|Parent(s)||Debendranath Kumar Saha
Ranadaprasad Saha (Bengali: রণদাপ্রসাদ সাহা) (15 November 1896 – May 1971), also known as RP Saha and Ranoda Proshad Shaha, was a famous British Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi businessman and philanthropist, who during the Bangladesh Liberation War was picked up from home by the Pakistani army on 7 May 1971 and never returned home.
Ranada Prasad was born in a Bengali Hindu Saha family to Debendranath Kumar and Kumudini Saha on 15 November 1896. His father Debendranath hailed from Mirzapur in Tangail subdivision in Mymensingh district. However as per the Hindu custom he was born in his maternal uncle's house at Kachhur in Savar, near Dhaka. At the age of seven he lost his mother who died of tetanus during childbirth. Being born into a poor family he didn't receive much of an education. At the age of sixteen he fled to Kolkata in search of a new future.
Ranada Prasad joined the Bengal Ambulance Corps and went to the War He was first posted in Mesopotamia and then in Karachi. As reward for his services rendered to the wounded, Ranada Prasad was commissioned in 1916 in the newly formed Bengal Regiment. After the war was over, he met George V. He got a job in the Indian Railway department as a war veteran.
In 1932 he lost the job and started a small business in salt and coal in Kolkata. He bought a ship named 'Bengal River'. Ranada Prasad was appointed one of the agents to buy food grains for the Government. He bought three powerhouses at Narayanganj, Mymensingh and Comilla and owned the 'George Anderson Company' of Narayanganj that used to make jute bales. He also started a leather business.
Ranada Prasad, now a fairly rich man, dedicated himself to the service of the suffering humanity. In 1938 he opened a charitable hospital at his native village Mirzapur on the river Lauhajang. During the famine of 1943–44 he maintained 275 gruel houses to feed the hungry for 8 months. On 27 July 1944 the hospital which had 20 beds was opened by Richard Casey, Baron Casey, the then Governor of Bengal. He named it 'Kumudini Hospital', after his mother Kumudini whose suffering from lack of medical care inspired him to establish a hospital for the poor, so that people, especially women, would not suffer the way his mother had. As of 2010, the hospital has 750 beds and continues to serve the poor, providing them with free beds, meals and treatment and charging only nominally for surgical procedures. If the hospital was flooded, Ranadaprasad made the doctor's treat the patients on the top floors. He didn't care about death rates as many hospitals did and made sure no one was ever turned back. The Maternity Wing of the Dhaka Combined Military Hospital was established with his financial support.
To spread female education he founded in 1942 a fully residential school at Mirzapur and named it 'Bharateswari Bidyapith' after Bharateswari Devi, his grandmother. In 1945 this institution was renamed 'Bharateshwari Homes'. It has 1200 seats as of 2010 and is rerenownd for producing well-rounded, socially responsible students who have gone on to excel in their respective fields. Founded the Kumudini College at Tangail in 1943 and the 'Debendra College' at Manikganj in 1944 to commemorate his mother and father respectively. He set up the 'Mirzapur Pilot Boys' School', 'Mirzapur Pilot Girls' School', and 'Mirzapur Degree College'.
In 1947, R.P. Saha placed all his companies in a trust by the name of 'Kumudini Welfare Trust (KWT)', with the earnings from the income generating activities such as jute baling press and a river transportation business, being used to run the welfare activities.
The full extent of his philanthropic activities is not known even by his own family. In 1944, he donated BDT 250,000 to the Red Cross. His family often learns about them when they receive letters or calls from organisations informing them about some large donations he had made or some way in which he had helped them. He never told anyone.
In April 1971, during the Liberation War of Bangladesh, despite a good working relationship with the Pakistani authorities as well as all preceding and successive governments, Saha, with his 26-year-old son Bhavani Prasad Saha, was picked up by the Pakistani occupation army. They returned home after about a week, but were picked up again a day later on 7 May, after which they were never heard from again. Saha's daughter-in-law, Srimati Saha, was widowed at the age of 20, four years into her marriage. Her only child, son Rajiv, was three years old at the time. The death of Ranadaprasad Saha remained a mystery as his body was never found, and neither was his son's.
Awards and honours
In appreciation of his humanitarian work the British Government conferred on RP Saha the title of Ray Bahadur. In 1978 he was posthumously awarded the Independence day award by the Government of Bangladesh as a recognition of his social works.
- Kumudini Welfare Trust of Bengal (BD) Limited website
- "In the Spotlight: The Kumudini Welfare Trust of Bengal, a sustainable philanthropy model". APPC Post (Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium). May 2007.