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Bidhan Chandra Roy
Portrait of Bidhan Chandra Roy
2nd Premier of West Bengal
In office
23 January 1948 – 25 January 1950
GovernorChakravarti Rajagopalachari
Kailash Nath Katju
Preceded byPrafulla Chandra Ghosh
Succeeded byPosition abolished
(himself as Chief Minister of West Bengal)
1st Chief Minister of West Bengal
In office
26 January 1950 – 1 July 1962
GovernorKailash Nath Katju
Harendra Coomar Mookerjee
Phani Bhusan Chakravartti (acting)
Padmaja Naidu
Preceded byOffice established
(himself as Premier of West Bengal)
Succeeded byPrafulla Chandra Sen
Member of West Bengal Legislative Assembly
In office
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byBijoy Singh Nahar
In office
May 1962 – 1 July 1962
Preceded byBijoy Singh Nahar
Succeeded bySiddhartha Shankar Ray
5th Mayor of Kolkata
In office
5 April 1931 – 9 April 1933
Preceded bySubhas Chandra Bose
Succeeded bySantosh Kumar Basu
Personal details
Born(1882-07-01)1 July 1882
Patna, Bengal Presidency, British India (present-day Bihar, India)
Died1 July 1962(1962-07-01) (aged 80)
Calcutta, West Bengal, India (present-day Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
Political partyIndian National Congress
Parent(s)Aghore Kamini Devi
Prakash Chandra Roy
Residence(s)Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Alma mater
AwardsBharat Ratna (1961)

Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy MRCP FRCS (1 July 1882 – 1 July 1962) was an Indian physician, educationist, and statesman who served as Chief Minister of West Bengal from 1948 until his death in 1962. He played a key role in the founding of several institutions and the cities like Salt Lake (now a part of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation) and Durgapur.[1]

In India, the National Doctors' Day is celebrated in his memory every year on 1 July. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour in 1961.[2]

Early life and education

Bidhan Chandra Roy was born on 1 July 1882 to a Bengali Hindu Kayastha-Brahmo family in Bankipore in Patna, where his father, Prakash Chandra Roy coming from a wealthy family of Satkhira, Khulna district, Bengal Presidency (now in Bangladesh), was serving as an excise inspector. His mother, Aghorkamini Devi, was religious and a devoted social worker.[3] Bidhan was the youngest of five siblings – he had 2 sisters, Susharbashini and Sarojini, and 2 brothers, Subodh and Sadhan. Bidhan's parents were ardent Brahmo Samajists.[4]

Prakash Chandra was a descendant of the family of Maharaja Pradapaditya, the rebel Hindu king of Jessore, but did not inherit much wealth from his ancestors. He earned a moderate salary for most part of Bidhan's childhood, but he and Aghorkamini supported the education and upbringing of both their own children and a number of other poor children, mostly orphans. The spirit of 'give and take' was inculcated in Bidhan and his siblings at a young age. They were taught and encouraged to give away what was precious to them, freely and willingly.[5][better source needed]

Bidhan studied at Patna Collegiate School in 1897, and obtained his I.A. degree from Presidency College, Calcutta. He completed his undergraduate studies at Patna College, where he obtained a B.A. degree with honours in mathematics. After graduating with his bachelor's degree, he applied to undertake postgraduate studies at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology and at the Calcutta Medical College. His application was accepted by both institutions and he chose to attend the latter. Bidhan left Patna in June 1901 to study at the Calcutta Medical College. While at medical school, Bidhan came upon an inscription which read, "Whatever thy hands findeth to do, do it with thy might."[6] These words became a lifelong source of inspiration for him.[7]

Intending to enroll at St Bartholomew's Hospital to complete further studies in medicine, Bidhan left for Britain in February 1909 with 1200. The then dean of St. Bartholomew's Hospital was reluctant to accept an Asian student and rejected Bidhan's application.[8] Roy submitted several additional applications till the dean, after 30 admission requests, admitted Bidhan.[9] Bidhan completed his studies in two years and three months, and in May 1911 became a member of the Royal College of Physicians and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons simultaneously. He returned home in 1911.


Roy in 1943

After his return, Roy joined the Provincial Health Service. He exhibited immense dedication and hard work, and would serve as a nurse when necessary. In his free time, he practised privately, charging a nominal fee. He taught at the Calcutta Medical College, and later at the Campbell Medical School (now NRS Medical College) and the Carmichael Medical College[7] (now R.G. Kar Medical College). Roy served as the first president of Cardiological Society of India from 1948 to 1950.[10]

Roy believed that swaraj (the call to action for India's freedom) would remain a dream unless the people were healthy and strong in mind and body. He made contributions to the organisation of medical education. He played an important role in the establishment of the Jadavpur T.B. Hospital, Chittaranjan Seva Sadan, Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital, Victoria Institution (college), and Chittaranjan Cancer Hospital. In 1926, the Chittaranjan Seva Sadan for women and children was opened by Roy.[11]

Roy was also Mahatma Gandhi's personal doctor and friend.

In 1925, Roy ran for elections from the Barrackpore constituency as an independent candidate for the Bengal Legislative Council and defeated the "Grand Old Man of Bengal", Surendranath Banerjee. Though an independent, Roy voted with the Swaraj Party (the Parliamentary wing of the Congress party in the 1920s). As early as 1925, Roy tabled a resolution recommending a study of the causes of pollution in Hoogly and suggested measures to prevent pollution in the future.

Roy was elected to the All India Congress Committee in 1928. Roy efficiently conducted the Civil Disobedience in Bengal in 1929 and prompted Pandit Motilal Nehru to nominate him member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) in 1930. The CWC was declared an unlawful assembly and Roy along with other members of the committee were arrested on 26 August 1930 and detained at Alipore Central Jail.

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

In 1942, Rangoon fell to the Japanese bombing and caused an exodus from Calcutta fearing a Japanese invasion. 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.

Chief Minister of West Bengal

The Congress Party proposed Roy's name for Chief Minister of Bengal. Roy wanted to devote himself to his profession. On Gandhi's advice, however, Roy accepted the position and took office on 23 January 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. Roy brought unity and discipline among the party ranks. He told the people:[12]

We have the ability and if, with faith in our future, we exert ourselves with determination, nothing, I am sure, no obstacles, however formidable or insurmountable they may appear at present, can stop our progress... (if we) all work unitedly, keeping our vision clear and with a firm grasp of our problems.

He was credited for the development of cities like Bidhannagar, Kalyani and Durgapur, which were crucial for the growth of West Bengal's economy at a time when it was ravaged by the ill consequences of partition.


Roy died on 1 July 1962. Coincidentally, it was also the date of his birth. After his death, his house became a nursing home named after his mother, Aghorkamini Devi. He had also constituted a trust for his properties at Patna to carry out social service, with eminent nationalist Ganga Sharan Singh (Sinha) being its first trustee.[13]


Bidhan Chandra Roy statue in Salt Lake City
A commemorative post stamp of Dr. Roy, published by India Post.
Statue of Dr. B. C. Roy in Howrah city
Bust of Roy at Bidhan Shishu Udyan in Ultadanga

The nation honoured Roy with the Bharat Ratna on 4 February 1961.

The B.C. Roy National Award was instituted in 1962[14] in Roy's memory and has been awarded annually since 1976. The award recognizes excellent contributions in the areas 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. Today, his private papers are part of the Archives at the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, at Teen Murti House, Delhi.[15][16]

His birthday, 1st July is commemorated as the National Doctors' Day in India.

See also


  1. ^ "Back to the beginning - On the 50th year of the landfill, here's the story of how Salt Lake came into being". The Telegraph. 10 August 2012.
  2. ^ "National Doctors' Day: All you need to know about Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy". Firstpost. 1 July 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Biography of Bharat Ratna "Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy" complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes". eVirtualGuru. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  4. ^ Thomas, K.P. (1955). Dr. B. C. Roy (PDF). Calcutta: Atulya Ghosh, West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 September 2018. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  5. ^ Nandalal Bhattacharya (2004). Karmajogi Bidhanchandra (Life of Bidhan Chandra Roy) (in Bengali). Grantha-tirtha. p. 15 & 16.
  6. ^ "Remembering Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy: Facts about the doctor who dedicated his life to the profession of medicine". India Today. 1 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Bidhan Chandra Roy Biography – Bidhan Chandra Roy Childhood, Life, Profile, Timeline". Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy -Biography and Life History | Great Rulers". Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  9. ^ "When India's 'National Doctor' Was Denied Service By an American Restaurant". The Wire. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Past President - CSI". Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  11. ^ Sumit Kumar (2021). "Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy Biography: डॉ. बिधान चंद्र राय जीवन परिचय" (in Hindi). Sumit-Kumar.
  12. ^ "Bengal's physician chief minister – The Statesman". The Statesman. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  13. ^ Choudhary, Valmiki (1984). Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Correspondence and Select Documents: 1934–1937. Allied Publishers. p. 133. ISBN 978-81-7023-002-1.
  14. ^ "Dr. B.C. Roy Award | MCI India". Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  15. ^ NMML. "Archives". Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  16. ^ "India's Iconic Doctor: Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy| DailyRounds". Archived from the original on 26 August 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
Political offices Preceded byPrafulla Chandra Ghosh Chief Minister of West Bengal 1948–1962 Succeeded byPresident's Rule