National Doctors’ Day is celebrated to recognise the invaluable contribution of doctors who work relentlessly to serve society. While Doctor’s Day is celebrated by different countries across the world on varied days, it is celebrated in India on July 1. The day marks the birth and death anniversary of the legendary physician Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. The occasion honours the immense contribution of Dr. Roy who served as a physician to Mahatma Gandhi and was later elected as the second Chief Minister of West Bengal. The day recognises the iconic and internationally renowned medical practitioner.
Roy was born in Patna Bengal Presidency, British India in 1882. After completing his graduation in Mathematics, he pursued medicine at the University of Calcutta. With the ambition of studying medicine at the prestigious St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, Roy went abroad. But he was denied admission because of his Asian roots. Nonetheless, he was granted admission owing to his continuous 30 attempts.
After graduating with flying colours in the year 1911, Roy went on to become a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS).
Dr Roy soon joined the Provincial Health Service after his return from abroad. His dedication towards serving the community was such that he would even serve as a nurse when required. In his free time, he would practice privately, treating people charging a nominal fee.
Before foraying into politics, Dr Roy taught at the Calcutta Medical College, and later at the Campbell Medical School and the Carmichael Medical College. He believed swaraj (the call to action for India’s freedom) would remain a dream unless the people were healthy and strong both mentally and physically.
He played an important role in establishing various medical institutes and hospitals in the nation such as the Jadavpur T.B. Hospital, Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital, Victoria Institution (college), and Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital.
For his contribution, the nation honoured him with the Bharat Ratna Award in 1961. On July 1, 1962, his 80th birthday, Dr Roy died. He turned his house into a nursing home and named it after his mother, Aghorkamini Devi.