Swadeshi Identity & Bengali Nostalgia: The History Of India's First Antiseptic Cream

India's First Antiseptic Cream
India's First Antiseptic Cream Boroline

"Shurobhito antiseptic cream Boroline."

No Bengali simply reads aloud these words, they sing it. It is from a beloved jingle that we grew up with and which was broadcasted on every radio station and television advertisement. It translates to “A fragrant antiseptic cream, Boroline”. Whenever a Bengali spots this miraculously green tube, a wave of inner nostalgia floods them. No matter which part of the globe they are on, seeing a tube of Boroline evokes a slice of home, unless, of course, they were already carrying it in their luggage, which is highly probable.

Boroline cream and all its different packaging
Boroline cream and all its different packaging YourStory

Growing up, hardly a day went by when I did not return home without a cut or a bruise from playing football. Each time, nonchalantly and with the utmost confidence in its healing prowess, my grandmother would apply Boroline to my wounds. They would heal miraculously and prepare me to sustain some more fresh wounds in the near future. Not just cuts and bruises, Boroline works wonders on skin problems, swellings, burns and dry skin and anyone who’s used it, can testify. Today let’s delve deep into the history of India's first antiseptic cream — its Swadeshi identity, its long-standing love affair with Bengalis and how even amidst rampant competition, it continues to thrive in the Indian market.

In the heartland of Bengal, amidst the struggle for independence from British rule, Boroline emerged as a symbol of resilience and self-sufficiency. It was 1929 when Gour Mohon Dutta, a visionary member of Kolkata's merchant community, founded GD Pharmaceuticals with a mission to manufacture medicinal products of unparalleled quality. Little did he know then that his creation, Boroline, would transcend time and become an intrinsic part of Bengali households, etching its name in the annals of Indian history.

Boroline became synonymous with Bengali households.
Boroline became synonymous with Bengali households.L: Classic Indian Advertisements R: Boroline
Boroline became a Bengali cultural archetype.
Boroline became a Bengali cultural archetype.Boroline

In an era of multifaceted Indian resistance, where some sought protest and others aimed for economic empowerment, Gour Mohon Dutta chose the path of self-reliance. Boroline, encapsulated within a moss-green tube, embodied his vision of an economically self-sufficient India. The ayurvedic antiseptic cream, formulated with boric acid, lanolin, zinc oxide (jasad bhasma), perfume, paraffin and oleum, which is Latin for essential oils, swiftly became a household name, transcending geographical boundaries and uniting the diverse populace of pre-independent India.

From the snow-clad peaks of Kashmir to the sun-drenched landscapes of southern India, it found its place as a trusted companion. Kashmiris turned to it to counter frostbite, while the residents of the south relied on its protective properties against the harsh sun. Boroline's enriching formula, suitable for all skin types and ages, became an integral part of first-aid kits, healing wounds, soothing dry skin, and offering solace during trying times.

As India embarked on its journey towards independence and global recognition, GD Pharmaceuticals adapted to meet changing consumer needs. Boroline's significance surpassed the realm of commerce. It became a testament to social responsibility and care for the nation. GD Pharmaceuticals, committed to serving the nation, established plantations near its Kolkata facility, nurturing the environment. The company embraced recyclable packaging materials and biodegradable waste production, leaving a minimal ecological footprint. Moreover, it extended financial assistance to underprivileged patients, terminally ill individuals, and children in need of heart surgery. Boroline stood tall as a brand with a conscience.

As the world continues to evolve, Boroline too has embraced change while retaining its essence. It has weathered the tides of time, remaining a constant companion for Bengalis around the world. Whether in the serene beauty of the Himalayas or the captivating wonders of Niagara Falls, the green tube, with its old-world charm, has traveled far and wide with world-trotting Bengalis. Alongside the flagship Boroline cream, the company introduced a range of products, including Suthol, Eleen hair oil, Glosoft face wash, and Penorub liquid pain reliever. With each new offering, the company expanded its presence, catering to the growing demand from a large and loyal customer base.

Amidst the deluge of skincare products flooding the Indian market, Boroline has maintained its unwavering position. Its consistency lies in a steadfast commitment to quality, innovative offerings, and distinctive packaging. The company adheres to all mandatory government regulations and complies with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Fully automated factories, meticulous monitoring of production processes, and a well-planned distribution network ensure the easy availability of Boroline products throughout the nation.

The legend of Boroline is a testament to the power of homegrown success and the unwavering loyalty of its consumers. The nation's first antiseptic cream has defied the influence of multinational companies and foreign brands. It has become a cultural archetype, passed down through generations. It is more than just a cosmetic product; it represents dependability, nationalism, and the burgeoning Bengali middle class. Boroline is an embodiment of a shared heritage and a symbol of unity. So, let us raise a toast to Boroline, the beloved green tube that continues to be the miracle cure for any ailment, transcending borders, generations, and time itself.

An old advetisement of Boroline
An old advetisement of BorolineL: At the Edge R: Boroline
A modern advetisement of Boroline
A modern advetisement of BorolineYoutube

Watch a music video below, that wittily captures the essence of Boroline.