Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, the second Chief Minister of West Bengal, was an eminent Indian freedom fighter. He is credited for founding five important cities in West Bengal: Durgapur, Kalyani, Bidhannagar, Ashokenagar, and Habra. He earned his F.R.C.S. and M.R.C.P. degrees in England in just over two years after graduating from Calcutta Medical College. When he returned to India, he became a member of the faculty of Calcutta Medical College. He went on to found a number of important medical institutions in Calcutta. He began his political career as a member of the Brahmo Samaj and was elected to the Bengal Legislative Council and the All India Congress Committee. He was elected Mayor of Calcutta Corporation after leading the civil disobedience campaign in Bengal. He was a key figure in the choice of the National Anthem. On Gandhi’s persuasion, he accepted the role of Chief Minister of West Bengal, which he assumed in 1948. He brought law and order to Bengal in just three years. In 1961, the Indian government bestowed the Bharat Ratna upon him. He was primarily a physician, despite being an active politician. Every year on his birthday, July 1st, National Doctor’s Day is observed.
Childhood and Adolescence
Bidhan Chandra Roy was born on July 1, 1882, in Patna, Bihar, to excise inspector Prakash Chandra Roy and Aghorkamini Devi. He was the family’s youngest child, with four older siblings.
His mother died while he was only 14 years old, when he was growing up. Because his father’s job required him to spend much of his time outside, the five siblings shared the household chores amongst themselves.
He graduated from Patna Collegiate School in 1897 with a matriculation certificate. He went on to Presidency College in Calcutta for his I.A. and Patna College for his B.A. Honours in Mathematics.
He was accepted into both the Calcutta Medical College and the Bengal Engineering College. Despite this, he chose medicine over engineering and proceeded to Calcutta to study medicine at the Calcutta Medical College in 1901.
After his father resigned from his profession, he faced a severe financial crisis after his first year of medical school. To improve his financial status, Roy obtained a scholarship and lived frugally in order to better manage his finances.
He was still in college when the partition of Bengal was proclaimed in 1905. He wanted to join the nationalist movement, but he concluded that completing his education and becoming a doctor would be a better way to serve his country.
Career of Bidhan Chandra Roy
Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy joined the Provincial Health Service after graduation and worked hard as a doctor. When necessary, he also assisted patients like a nurse. He practiced privately in his spare time, charging a little charge.
In 1909, he traveled to England with the intention of continuing his medical education at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. However, because he was Asian, the Dean rejected his application. He refused to give up easy and re-submitted his application 30 times before ultimately being admitted into the college.
He completed both his M.R.C.P. and F.R.C.S. degrees in a little over two years, which was a remarkable achievement. In 1911, he went to India and began teaching at Calcutta Medical College, then at Campbell Medical School and Carmichael Medical College.
During this time, he actively promoted health among the general public. He made substantial contributions to medical education and founded a number of specialized hospitals and health centers.
The Chittaranjan Seva Sadan (founded in 1926) for women and children was one of the most important medical centers he established. The women were first hesitant to enter the hospital, but he worked tirelessly to help them overcome their fears. Later, he established a center for women’s nursing and social work training.
In 1925, he entered politics. He campaigned for the Bengal Legislative Council from the Barrackpore Constituency and defeated his popular opponent, the ‘Grand Old Man of Bengal,’ Surendranath Banerjee.
He was instrumental in the formation of the Indian Medical Association in 1928. He served the group in a variety of capacities, including two terms as national president. He was also elected to the All India Congress Committee in the same year.
He spearheaded the Bengal Civil Disobedience Movement in 1929 and persuaded Pandit Motilal Nehru to appoint him to the Congress Working Committee the following year (CWC).
Soon after, the British government deemed the CWC an unlawful organisation, and he, along with many other members of the committee, was arrested on August 26, 1930. They were detained at the Calcutta’s Central Alipore Jail.
He was Mayor of Calcutta in 1933 and served as Alderman of the Calcutta Corporation from 1930 to 31. Under his leadership, the Corporation made significant advances in education, medical facilities, and infrastructure. He established a system to offer hospitals and charitable dispensaries with funding in aids.
In 1939, he founded the Medical Council of India and served as its first president. He was in charge until 1945.
He was Mahatma Gandhi’s buddy and physician. When Gandhi was fasting in Pune for the Quit India Movement in 1942, Dr. Roy attended to him and persuaded him to accept non-Indian medicines.
He was chosen Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta in 1942. Calcutta was under siege by a Japanese rebellion at the time. Because he believed that education might help the youth better serve their country, he set up air-raid shelters and relief for students and teachers so that courses could continue even when the country was at war.
His name was recommended for Chief Minister of West Bengal by the Congress Party after India’s independence. He did not wish to take office, though, because he was more committed to his medical career. In January 1948, he accepted the role at Gandhi’s request.
Communal violence, food shortages, unemployment, and a massive influx of refugees from East Pakistan beset Bengal during the time. Within three years, he had restored Bengal’s law and order, as well as its former splendour. His 14-year tenure as Chief Minister of West Bengal was a resounding success.
Major Projects of Bidhan Chandra Roy
He made high-quality health-care services available to the whole public. In Calcutta, he founded the R.G. Kar Medical College, Jadavpur T.B. Hospital, Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, Kamala Nehru Hospital, Victoria Institution, and Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital, among others.
He was instrumental in the founding of the Indian Institute of Mental Health, the Infectious Disease Hospital, and Calcutta’s first postgraduate medical institution.
He proposed a resolution in 1925 to investigate the sources, impacts, and prevention of pollution in Hooghly.
He championed free education, free medical help, better roads, improved lighting, and water supply as Mayor of Calcutta Corporation.
Later, as West Bengal’s Chief Minister, he restored the state’s law and order. He founded five illustrious cities: Durgapur, Kalyani, Bidhannagar, Ashokenagar, and Habra.
Achievements & Awards
He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1935, and then of the American Society of Chest Physicians in 1940. In 1944, he was elected President of the Medical Council of India.
In 1944, he was awarded a Doctorate of Science degree for his efforts in assisting students in continuing their study amid the Japanese insurgency in Calcutta.
On February 4, 1961, the Indian government awarded him the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honor.
Personal History and Legacy
Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy did not have a spouse. He died on his 80th birthday, July 1, 1962, shortly after treating patients in the early hours of the morning and discussing West Bengal political issues.
He gave his home to be used as a nursing home in honor of his mother, Aghorkamini Devi.
In 1976, the B.C. Roy National Award was established to honor contributions to medicine, politics, science, philosophy, literature, and the arts.
Estimated Net Worth
Bidhan is one of the wealthiest World Leaders and one of the most popular. Bidhan Chandra Roy’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.