Who was Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy
Roy was born in Patna Bengal Presidency, British India, in 1882. He first did a graduation in Mathematics following which he studied medicine at the University of Calcutta. Aiming higher he went to England to join the prestigious St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London but was initially denied admission as he came from the Asian continent. Nonetheless, after 30 attempts, his admission was finally approved.
The man who was initially denied admission to the leading London institute went on to become a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS), after his post graduation in 1911. It was a feat unheard of.
Dr Roy was still pursuing medicine in Calcutta when the partition of Bengal was announced. Resisting the urge to join the movement, the young doctor is said to have focus on his studies hoping to contribute through mastering his profession.
Following his return from London, Dr Roy joined the Independence movement, went on to teach medicine at his alma mater, where he eventually became the Vice-Chancellor. He joined politics in 1925 and served as the second chief minister of West Bengal (1948-62).
Dr Roy was known to be one of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal physicians and a good friend. The tall doctor was also know to be the medical counsel of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
India honoured Dr Roy with a Bharat Ratna in 1961. Dr Roy passed away on his 80th birthday on July 1, 1962. He donated his home to be converted into a nursing home named after his mother Aghorkamini Devi, who was an ardent Brahmo Samaji and a dedicated social worker.
The British Medical Journal, in its obituary of Roy, called him the “first medical consultant in the subcontinent of India, who towered over his contemporaries in several fields”. It also said, “… at his professional zenith he may have had the largest consulting practice in the world, news of his visit to a city or even railway station bringing forth hordes of would-be patients.”