Remembering Dr. B C Roy On National Doctor’s Day

Dr. B.C. Roy was the one to establish the Indian Medical Association in 1928 and even the Medical Council of India.Doctor’s Day is celebrated in the US and other western countries on March 30 the day when Dr. Crawford W. Long first used ether anesthesia in surgery.

Dr. B.C. Roy was one of the  foremost national  leaders of the 20th  century. A legendary physician, distinguished political leader, philanthropist, educationist and  social worker, he was one of the longest serving Chief Ministers and is rightly hailed as the Maker of Modern West Bengal.

Dr. B.C. Roy was the one to establish the Indian  Medical Association in 1928  and even the Medical Council of India.  He also played a crucial role in establishing  the Indian Institute of Mental Health, the Infectious  Disease Hospital and even Kolkata’s first-ever postgraduate medical  college.

He was Mahatma   Gandhi’s close friend and  doctor. Though he wanted to continue his profession, when his flame was proposed to be the second Chief Minister of West Bengal, it was on Gandhi’s advice that he took up the post.

The nation honored Dr. Roy with the Bharat Ratna on February 4, 1961. On July 1, 1962, after treating his  morning patients and discharging affairs of the State, he took a copy of the “Brahmo Geet” and sang a piece from it. 11 hours later Dr. Roy died.

The B.C. Roy National Award was instituted in 1976 for work in the area of medicine, politics, science,   philosophy; literature and arts. The Dr. B.C. Roy Memorial Library and Reading Room for Children in the Children’s Book Trust, New Delhi, was opened in 1967.

The first Doctor’s  Day was celebrated   in 1991.National Doctor’s Day is commonly celebrated ‘” in  healthcare organizations as a day to  recognize the contributions of doctors   to individual lives and communities. These   events are typically organized by staff at  a healthcare organization.

Doctor’s Day is celebrated in the US and other western countries on March 30 the day when Dr. Crawford W. Long first used ether anesthesia in surgery.

B. C. Roy was  born on July 1, 1882,  in Patna, Bihar. His father Prakash Chandra was  an Excise Inspector. Bidhan’s mother died when he was 14.

B. C. Roy left for Calcutta   in June 1901. While   at medical school Bidhan came upon an inscription which  read, “Whatever thy hands findeth  to do, do it with thy might.” Bidhan was deeply impressed by these words and they became a source of inspiration  for him throughout his life.

Bidhan’s   term in medical  school was fraught  with hardships. His  father retired as a Deputy Collector   after the first year and could no longer  send Bidhan any money. Bidhan fended for himself  by getting a scholarship and living frugally, saving  on books by borrowing notes and relying on books in the library.

Immediately after graduation,   B.C. Roy joined the Provincial  Health Service. He was prepared to prescribe  medicine to patients and even serve as a nurse  when necessary. In his free time he practiced privately,  charging a nominal fee of Rs. 2 only.

Within two years  and three months,  Bidhan completed his M.R.C.P.  and F.R.C.S. and returned home from  England in 1911. On his return he taught  at the Calcutta Medical College, then the Campbell Medical  School and finally at the Carmrchael Medical College .

Dr. Roy believed  that swaraj would  remain a dream unless  the people were healthy  and strong in mind and body.  He made contributions to the  organization of medical education.    He established the Jadavpur T.B. Hospital,   Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, R.G. Kar Medical College, Kamala Nehru Hospital, Victoria Institution, and Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital. The Ctuttaranjan Seva Sadan for women and children  was opened in 1926. He opened a center for training women in nursing and; social  work.

Dr. Roy was  serving as the Vice-Chancellor    of the University of Calcutta. He acquired   air-raid shelters for schools and college students   to have their classes in, and provided relief for students,  teachers and employees alike. In recognition for his efforts, the Doctorate  of Science was conferred upon him in 1944.

At his Convocation   Address on December   15, 1956 at the University   of Lucknow, Dr. Roy said, “My  young friends, you are soldiers   in the battle of freedom-freedom from  want, fear, ignorance,  frustration and helplessness.   By a dint of hard work for tile country,  rendered in a spirit of selfless service, may you march ahead with hope and courage …. “

During the Dandi March in 1931,  many members of the Calcutta Corporation  were imprisoned. Congress requested Dr. Roy to remain   out of prison and discharge the duties of the Corporation. He served as the Alderman  of the Corporation from 1930-31   and Mayor in 1933. Under him, the Corporation  made leaps in the expansion of free education,  free medical aid, (letter roads, improved lighting,   and water supply. He was responsible for setting up  a framework for dispensing grant-in-aid to hospitals and charitable  dispensaries.

The Congress Party proposed  Dr. Roy’s name for Chief Minister of Bengal.  Dr. Roy wanted to devote himself to his profession.  On Gandhiji’s advice, however, Dr. Roy accepted the position and took office on January  23, 1948. Bengal at the time had been torn by communal violence, shortage of food, unemployment and a large flow of refugees  in the wake of the creation of East Pakistan.

Dr.  Roy brought  unity and discipline   amongst the party ranks.  He then systematically and calmly began to work on the immense task in front of him.

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