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Monday, December 11, 2023

The world’s first vegetarian soap

“ I don’t know of any foreign soap that is better than Godrej. So I use Godrej ” – As soon as one reads the sentence, one can tell that it is part of a soap advertisement. But if it is said that the poet Rabindranath Tagore said the words in that advertisement, then what is the way not to sit and shake?

The story revolves around late Indian lawyer Ardesi Godrej becoming a visionary businessman. In 1895, Godrej started the business of surgical instruments when he could not make much profit in advocacy. But he lost a big buyer because of the ‘Made in India ‘ seal on the product. Leaving this business, he opened a lock making factory where his first success came. Of course, he did not forget the matter of looking down on the motherland.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the freedom movement in India began to gain strength. Anti-British attitude started to develop among all, irrespective of Hindus and Muslims. Godrej also joined the freedom movement. At that time, besides the locksmith business, he became interested in soap, which was still a new invention from Europe. Immersed in Swadeshi thought, Godrej saw that these soaps were made from animal fat (lard and tallow), which included cow, buffalo and pig fat. Note that the sepoy revolution of 1857 was born from the idea that the cartilage of guns contains animal fat.

Godrej did not miss this opportunity, in 1919 he launched the world’s first 100% pure vegetarian soap ‘Chabi’. The Swadeshi movement in India was at its height under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The desire to boycott British products on the one hand, and the ingredients (cow and pig fat) which were impure for both the Hindu and Muslim communities, made this soap a huge hit in India at that time. 

The biggest reason for the longevity of this soap was its quality. In the interest of the Swadeshi movement, Indians were eagerly accepting even relatively inferior domestic products. But Godrej knew that this passion would not last and Indian producers must replace foreign products with quality products. 

Gandhi himself praised this idea of ​​Godrej . To support the Swadeshi movement, prominent Indian politician C. Rajagopalachari and British social reformer Dr. Annie Besant Godrej participated in the soap’s advertisement. However, Godrej soap became the daily use of Indians after the advertisement containing the picture of world poet Rabindranath Tagore over everything.

Ardesi Godrej’s foresight did not fail. Although the impact of the Swadeshi movement took a few years to fade away, Godrej has remained permanent in India. The century-old Godrej soap is still the number one choice of Indians today, selling over 38 crores annually. 

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