Friday 31 October 2014

Dr.B.C. Roy

Gandhiji gathered around him some of the most brilliant Indian men and women of the highest integrity for India's struggle for freedom.
I may mention one of these, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy ( 1882-1962 ).

 Dr. Roy was born in Patna, Bihar, where his father was an Excise Inspector. After getting his B.A. degree in Mathematics Honours, he applied for admission to both Bengal Engineering College and Calcutta Medical College, and was accepted in both. He accepted the medical line, perhaps because he thought he could be of greater service to humanity as a doctor.

 His medical studies were fraught with great financial difficulties as his father had retired after his first year in Medical College, and he had to live frugally, borrowing books from the library instead of purchasing them.

 After getting his medical degree from Calcutta Medical College he joined the Provincial Medical Service, and later went to England where he set up a record by topping in both the F.R.C.S. and M.R.C.P. examinations simultaneously in 2 years time ( the British authorities stopped holding these examinations simultaneously after this ).

 On returning to India he started his private practice, and soon became the top doctor in Calcutta, earning about Rs. 50,000 per month ( which would be equivalent to about Rs 10 lacs per month today ).

 He also became a Professor of Medicine in Calcutta Medical college, and Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University. In 1928 he created the Indian Medical Association, which is the largest body of medical practitioners in India even today, and the Indian Medical Council, for setting high standards for the medical profession. He also set up many hospitals and medical establishments, including schools for nurses.

  He had joined the Congress party, and under the leadership of Gandhiji took part in the Independence Struggle. He led the Civil Disobedience Movement in Bengal in 1929. However, he was forbidden by Gandhiji from going to jail, as his services were required for medically treating the freedom fighters.

 He was Gandhiji's friend and doctor. Once when Gandhiji fell ill, and Dr. Roy prescribed some medicines for him, Gandhiji refused to take them, saying how could he take medical treatment when 400 million indians were not given similar treatment. Dr. Roy replied that he was not giving the medicines to Gandhiji, but to one who represented the aspirations of 400 million Indians. Gandhiji then took the medicines.

 After India became independent, Dr. Roy became the Chief Minister of West Bengal, on which post he remained till his death in 1962.

 At that time the salary of a Chief Minister was Rs. 500 per month. So a person who was earning Rs. 50,000 per month accepted a job of Rs. 500 per month. Nobody ever questioned his integrity.

Even after becoming the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Dr. Roy allotted a couple of hours every day for giving free medical treatment to poor people. My grandfather, Dr. K.N. Katju, who was Dr. Roy's personal friend was the Governor of West Bengal from 1948-1951. He told me that he himself would sometimes go to Dr. Roy for medical treatment while Dr. Roy was the Chief Minister, and he offered to pay Dr. Roy's fees, which Dr. Roy always refused.

 Dr. Roy was the architect of post independence West Bengal. He was responsible for creating Salt Lake ( Bidhan Nagar ), a satellite town of Calcutta, by reclaiming the land from the salt lakes in that area. Today many people prefer to live in Salt Lake, rather than in Calcutta.

 Dr. Roy was a bachelor. he donated his house for setting up a nursing home, and gave all his other properties to a trust for social service in Patna.
 He died in 1962, and was awarded the Bharat Ratna.

1 comment:

  1. wow! Brilliant work...

    This is a good example of a good human.