Businessperson, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Social Worker


Ranada Prashad Shaha

Today Bangladesh is a land every Bangladeshi is proud of. But the country didn’t make it in a trice. The scene behind was some munificent personalities who created the vision of today. They were so generous that they didn’t even claim to appear in the limelight for recognition or fame. Ranada Prasad Saha is one of them. 


Ranada Prasad Saha was such a delightful person who always thought for the people of his motherland. He is also widely known as RP Saha. Despite belonging to a poverty-stricken background, he always kept his feet forward in times of need. Some popular institutes like Kumudini Hospital, Bharateswari Homes, and Debendra College are great examples of his notable contributions. That’s the reason, the title “Rai Bahadur” was conferred to him in honor of his magnificent social work. Whenever the nation remembers its roots, the contribution of Ranada Prasad Saha is never forgotten. So, let’s dive deep down to know more about such a prominent personality.

Life of “Ranada Prasad Saha” at a Glance

  • Real Name: Ranada Prasad Saha


    Date of Birth: 15 November 1896


    Place of Birth: Mirzapur, Tangail subdivision in Mymensingh district


    Father Name: Debendranath Podder


    Mother Name: Kumudini Devi


    Sibling: 3


    • 2 Brothers
    • 1 Sister

    Professions: Businessman, Philanthropist


    Education: Not Known


    Religion: Hindu


    Native Language: Bangla


    Nationality: Bangladeshi


    Spouse: Srimati Kiranmala Devi


    Children: 3

    • Bhavani Prasad Saha (Son)
    • Joya (Daughter)

    Favorite Hobby: Not Known


    Awards and Achievements


    • Earned a medal along with a citation for distinctive performance in World War 1 from King George the Fifth.
    • Achieved the title of “Rai Bahadur” by the British Government in appreciation of his humanitarian work.
    • Honored with the “Independence Day Award” by the Government of Bangladesh in 1978.

    Date of Death: May 1971

  • Bijoya (Daughter)

Early Life

Ranada Prasad Saha was born on 15 November 1896. His birthplace is in Mirzapur in Tangail subdivision in Mymensingh district. This munificent personality was the second son of Debendranath Podder and Kumudini Devi. He was born at Kachoir under the Shimulia union in Savar in his maternal uncle’s house near Dhaka, Bengal Presidency, British India (now Bangladesh). 

Ranada has two brothers and one sister. Even though he belonged to a poor family, he got quite affection from his family. His ancestors used to do small-scale trading. However, his father did not have any specific profession. Working as a deed-writer and moneylender, Debendranath used to earn a livelihood for his family. 

But the cloud overwhelmed as Ranada lost his mother at the age of just seven. His mother Kumudini Devi faced a premature death due to tetanus during childbirth. Soon, the situation turned into completely darkened as their financial condition started to worsen day by day. As a consequence, he had to flee to Kolkata at the age of sixteen. He worked there as a hawker, rickshaw puller, day laborer, and canteen boy initially. 


Ranada Prasad Saha did not have much educational qualification. As a child of such a poverty-stricken background, he had to end his studies after passing class three. He ended up sacrificing his desire for education at such a tender age. In fact, after fleeing in Kolkata, his destiny made him do such awful chores. He had to work as a hawker, poster, and sometimes even as a canteen boy to earn his bread. Later, he also got involved in the “Swadeshi Andolan” or “Nationalist Movement”. Because of his involvement, he had to be in prison for a few days as well. 


That’s how this generous personality had spent his childhood with such turbulence. However, the darkness didn’t remain the same as before. Soon, Ranada Prasad Saha started his career and entered a new chapter of his life. 


Ranada started his career in the British India Company as a medic in the Bengal Ambulance Corps. Like hundreds of Indian Youths, he also went to World War I. There,  he met and had a deep amity with the famous poet “Kazi Nazrul Islam”. From 1 April 1915, he started to join training at Alipore Cantonment under the supervision of 16 Rajput Regiment. On 26 June 1915, his training was finished and then he departed from Kolkata for Mesopotamia. 


Along with his unit, Ranada reached Amara town in Iraq through Mumbai and Basra on 15 July 1915. There, the unit opened the Bengal Stationary Hospital. After that Ranada got involved in the 2nd Field Ambulance Unit of Division Six. On 8 September 1915, it left for Kut-al-Amara to occupy Baghdad. The 2nd Field Ambulance Unit was advancing towards Baghdad after conquering Kut. On 22 and 23 November, they almost arrived in the Tesiphone area. But on the way, suddenly a bloodthirsty fighting took place between the Turkish and British forces. The Turkish force won the battle and seized Kut town. As Ranada was fighting on behalf of the British Army, along with the British Force, he also had to surrender to the Turkish Force on 27 April 1916. 


All the prisoners were brought to Baghdad. Ranada was among the lucky ones as he could return to Kolkata safe and sound. Through the exchange of war prisoners program between Turkey and England, Ranada and some of the other prisoners were able to come back from Baghdad prison on 26 September. 


After returning to Kolkata, in the third week of November 1916, he joined the “Bengali Paltan”. Because of his peculiar performance, King George the Fifth awarded him with a medal and citation as well. Soon, he got the opportunity to serve in the 49 Bengal Regiment and joined as a Viceroy Commissioned Officer in the same year. 

In December, he got the promotion to the rank of Lance Nayek. 


Next year, on 25 August 1917, his position was uplifted to the Post of Jamadar. He got training initially from the Central Physical Training and Bayonet Fighting School, Poona as well. Later he was posted as an instructor in Karachi. On 23 January 1918, a team of Bengali Paltan led by Lt. DJ Wilkos and Jamadar Ranada Prasad Saha came to Bengal for two months. Their main task was to recruit new soldiers. So, they visited many villages and tried to motivate the young generation to join the army through their inspirational speeches. After the disbandment of the Bengali Paltan, he returned to Kolkata on 15 October 1920.


Later, Ranada got a job as a war veteran in the Indian Railway Department. He came into the limelight as he saved some British officers from a campfire risking his own life. The government honored him as well for his great bravery. After serving for five years of great bravery and honesty, Ranada took his retirement from the army. Later, he joined as a ticket collector in the British Railway till 1931. He was posted on the Sealdah-Darshana-Sirajgonj Ghat line.


Succeeding his complete retirement from service, Ranada Prasad Saha stepped into his business career in 1932. He thought of starting with a small business of coal and salt. In fact, he invested all the money he earned from his retirement package. After some months, he began his coal business in Kolkata. He even gained a dealership for the coal business. Soon, he collaborated with Zamindar of Muktagacha and Satish Choudhury to run his coal business. In just four years, he got quite good recognition as an established coal businessman in Kolkata. Besides his coal business, he kept his business diversified in various sectors like river transport, passenger launch, food grain, leather business, dockyard, jute, and so on.


During that time, motor launch engines were powered by energy from coal. Some owners of launch services were unable to pay the huge dues of coal prices. That’s how Ranada owned all of that as the debtors had to sell their vessels. He took advantage and used all the boats as transportation for coal supply throughout the country. 


In 1939, along with Justice Roy Bahadur, Zamindar Nripendra Nath Choudhury, Jadunath Majumdar, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, and Nalini Ranjan Sarkar, Ranada organized a shipping company named “Bengal River Service”. He even bought a ship for his river transport business named “The Bengal River”. 


Later, in 1942, during World War II, he was appointed as an agent by the Government to buy food grains. Soon, he bought three powerhouses at Mymensingh, Narayanganj, and Comilla. He even owned the “George Anderson Company ” of Narayanganj in 1940, which used to make jute bales. Besides jute mills, he established several Jute hoards for warding row jute. In 1946, he also constructed there new bail pressing machine. In a short time, he earned a lot of recognition and huge profits as well through his outstanding business strategy.  


That’s how Ranada continued his successful journey as a businessman. Even though he was such a prominent businessman and well-recognized personality, he always spent a major part of his earnings for the betterment of the poor people and his nation.

Contributions, Awards and Achievements

Besides being such a successful entrepreneur, Ranada Prasad Saha was highly known as a philanthropist. During his entire life, he spent almost all of his money on serving the needy. In 1938, Ranada founded a charitable hospital at Mirzapur, his native village on the river Lauhajang. The construction of the hospital started in 1943. Later, the hospital was opened by the then Governor General of Bengal Lord Baron Casey, Richard Casey on July 27, 1944. 


Ranada named the hospital after his mother Kumudini Devi. As his mother died because of the lack of proper treatment, he determined himself to serve his motherland through proper medical care. At the beginning of the hospital, it was furnished with 20 beds. In 1953, Kumudini Hospital became the first one to serve cancer patients. Later, in 1970, a 50-bed TB ward was launched in the hospital. Surprisingly, as of 2010, the hospital turned into a 750-bed facility. Till now, the hospital is popularly well-known as Kumudini Hospital. Besides, Ranada is also the founder of Shova Shundari Dispensary at Mirzapur. 


Not just financially, Ranada Prasad Saha even invested himself emotionally in the hospital and even when the hospital was flooded, he encouraged the doctors and nurses to treat the patients on the top floors. No matter how difficult the situation was, he never turned his back. Besides offering free medical care, he even provided free meals and accommodation for poor patients. To continue an uninterrupted free service, he even organized a welfare trust titled “Kumudini Welfare Trust” (KWT) on 22 March 1947. The headquarters of the Trust was established in Narayanganj. He used to contribute to the welfare trust through all his earnings from his business activities like river transportation and jute baling press. 


Apart from providing free treatments, Ranada made a great contribution during the famine as well. In 1943-1944, when a huge part of the country was yearning for at least one meal, he came forward with all his earnings. He arranged about 275 gruel houses for the hungry not just for days, rather for eight months. In fact, through his financial support, the Maternity Wing of the Dhaka Combined Military Hospital got its existence. 


In 1942, Ranada Prasad Saha established a complete residential school in his native village, Mirzapur. He named the school “Bharateswari Bidyapith” after his great grandmother, Bharateswari Devi. After three years, in 1945, the school got better furnished with a renamed “Bharateswari Homes”. In the same year, the school successfully started its journey with 55 female students. All the expenses of the girl’s students were carried by the authority. In 1962, the secondary school was elevated to the higher secondary level. Now, its facility has 1200 seats and is quite popular for its incredible learning methods. Every year the school produces a bunch of students who are socially responsible and go up to excel in their respective fields. 


Ranada also founded “Kumudini College” in 1943 at Tangail. Next year, he set up another college in Manikganj District. He named the “Debendra College”, after his father Debendranath Podder. Besides, he also established several educational institutes in his native village such as Mirzapur Pilot Girls’ School, Mirzapur Pilot Boy’s School, and Mirzapur Degree College.


Because of his incredible social work and dedication to his motherland, the British government conferred him with the title of “Rai Bahadur”. Famous poet, Rabindranath Tagore also congratulated him for his great devotion.  He was even honored with the highest honor, the “Independence Day Award” for his tremendous recognition as a social worker by the Government of Bangladesh in 1978. Later, his “Kumudini Welfare Trust” also achieved the highest honorary “Independence Day Award” in 1984.

Personal Life

Just as his generous spirituality, Ranada Prasad Saha was a magnificent human in his personal life as well. He was married to a beautiful woman, Srimati Kiranmala Devi who always supported him during all his ups and downs. She also helped him to establish his dream school, “Bharateswari Homes”. There is a saying, behind every successful man there is a woman. The proverb goes absolutely straight as Ranada had such a supportive spouse. 


The couple was blessed with two daughters and a son. They were Bijoya, Joya, and  Bhavani Prasad Saha. His elder daughter Bijoya was married to Barrister Shaukat Ali Khan and his younger daughter Joya was the spouse of famous personality Dr. B. P. Podde. Their son, Bhavani tied the knot with Srimati Saha and happily lived with their only child Rajiv. Randa was also having his dreams come true with all his social work and spending life with his lovely family. But the story of this beautiful family ended up being a nightmare in 1971 as both son and father were murdered by the Pakistani occupation army. Srimati Saha, Ranada’s daughter-in-law became a widow just at 20 and Rajiv lost his father at the age of only three. 


Ranada Prasad Saha was a man miles away from all controversies. By his utmost hard work and selflessly helping the poor of his country, he placed a special core in everyone’s heart. But the fate of this generous personality turned to devastation as he had to face a cruel death with his young and only son. 


Despite having a well-working relationship with the authorities of Pakistan, they were picked during the Liberation War of Bangladesh by the Pakistani occupation army in April 1971. Fortunately, they returned home safe and sound just after a week. But the situation turned into a mystery as both Ranada and his son, Bhavani were picked up again on 7 May. This time, they never returned. It’s been decades, but the mystery still remains dark as no one knows what actually happened to them. Because their dead body was not even found ever. 


But finally, the family got a ray of peace as the murderer was finally found guilty. A man named Mahbubur Rahman was found responsible for all three charges. He was directly involved in abducting and murdering 60 Hindus including RP Saha and his son. Mahbubur Rahman was the son of the chairman of the Mirzapur Peace Committee, Abdul Wadud. Both father and son were members of Razakar Bahini who had a straight connection with the Pakistan Army in 1971. 


It was such a shame that the man who loved the country so much faced such a brutal conspiracy by his native people. But finally, the country stood with justice as it punished Ranada’s murderer on 27 June 2019. The International Crime Tribunal-1 declared the death penalty to the guilty. Even though it took 48 years to capture the murderer and punish, still the family is at least convinced to get justice.


Rai Bahadur, the title perfectly goes to him as he was such a brave, honest, and kind-hearted personality. Not just in the field of medical care, his contribution to the educational sector is also not forgettable. In the dark past of the country when girls were not allowed to be educated and forcefully they were about to marry, at such an early age, Ranada came forward as a blessing. He ignored all the baseless social customs and made a beautiful path for female education. 


Not just in educational sectors, Ranada even motivated rural women to be independent. He took necessary steps to train distressed and poor rural women to make them serve the needy as nurses in the hospitals. That’s how the rural women also got the opportunity to stand on their own. Ranada even set up a Nurse Training Center on the hospital campus for females. He always had a dream to establish a medical college for women. After his death, in 2001, his dream finally became fulfilled as a women’s medical college was adjacent to Kumudini Hospital.


Moreover, his incredible contribution during the famine in 1943 made him incredibly notable. For eight months, he set up open kitchens for needy people in various places throughout the country including Tangail, Mymnesingh, and Kolkata. He also donated BDT 250,000 cash to the Red Cross fund during World War II. Besides, he also contributed to constructing public auditoriums, community centers, medical centers, theaters, hospitals, and educational institutions. 


Besides being such a successful business tycoon, he had a great passion for acting as well. In 1969, he appeared in the theater for the first time. He played the lead character in the drama “Alamgir”. Because of his outstanding social work and great affection for his motherland, he became the “Rai Bahadur” of the country. In 1991, the Government of Bangladesh’s postal department published a commemorative stamp on Ranada Prasad Saha as well.


Even having involvement in huge donations, he never claimed to be in the limelight. He never even expressed his donation or charity publicly or even to his own family. There were many times when his family members used to receive the thanking letters for his donations. That’s how they got to know about his charity. 


The Chief Minister of Undivided Bengal, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy talked about him, “A poor man became a millionaire and a millionaire voluntarily became a poor man, spending his all in the service of humanity”. This shows how selfless, kind-hearted, and generous personality Ranada Prasad Saha was.


Ranada Prasad Saha was a man with a golden heart. The way he dedicated all of himself to the betterment of the country is really praiseworthy. His love for the country will always make him remembered by the whole nation. The country will forever be debited to this gem. Whenever our country looks back on its national heroes, Ranada Prasad Saha is always remembered with tremendous respect and honor.


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