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Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, the architect of modern West Bengal

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New Delhi, Jun 23: Bidhan Chandra Roy is often remembered as the architect of modern West Bengal. He was an Indian physician, educationist, philanthropist, freedom fighter and statesman who served as Chief Minister of West Bengal from 1948 until his death in 1962.

Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy

Who was Bidhan Chandra Roy?
Born on 1 July 1882 in Patna, he passed the Entrance Examination from the Patna Collegiate School in 1897, and First Arts Examination from Patna College in 1899. He passed the Bachelor of Arts Examination with Honours in Mathematics in 1901 after which he joined the Calcutta Medical College. He was admitted to the St Bartholmew's Institution in London in 1909 and within about two years he had the distinction of passing both the M.R.C.P. (London) and F.R.C.S. (England) being placed first in the former.

He was the Professor and Head of the Department of Medicine in Carmichael (now RG Kar Medical College) and later on was the Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Consulting Physician till the last day of his life. Apart from becoming the President of the Medical Education Society of Bengal (Governing Body of RG Kar Medical College), he was associated with R Kar Medical College Hospitals, Calcutta for about 44 years.

However, he was interested in politics very early in his life and he contested his first election against Sir Surendranath Banerjee as an independent candidate in 1923. He had the backing of Swarajya Party of Deshabandhu Chittaranjan Das and dramatically defeated the veteran nationalist leader at the polls.

Following the death of Chittaranjan Das, Dr Roy was chosen as the Deputy Leader of the Swarajya Party in the Council and he played a leading role in guiding Bengal politics for some time.

After being elected as a member of the All Indian Congress Committee in 1928, he came in close personal contact with Mahatma Gandhi, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, and other leaders many of whom, as a physician, he had under his care. He entered the Calcutta Corporation as an Alderman after the third general municipal elections in 1930. During the Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930, he resigned his seat along with others in the legislature.

He also served as the Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University from 1942 to 1944 and was awarded by it the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

However, he got the opportunity to take the developmental activities to a new level after Congress legislators of West Bengal chose him as their leader in 1948.

The Congress Party proposed Roy's name for Chief Minister of Bengal. On Gandhiji's advice, however, Roy accepted the position and took office on 23 January 1948. The state was 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 then systematically and calmly began to work on the immense task in front of him. Within three years law and order was returned to Bengal without compromising the dignity and status of his administration.

His continuous tenure till his death in 1962 (been elected in 1952, 1957, and 1962) constitutes a brilliant chapter in the chequered history of the State. In recognition of his great stature as a constructive leader and a patriot that the Govt. of India awarded him the highest honour of Bharat Ratna in 1961.

As the country is celebrating its Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav to commemorate the 75 years of independence, it is time for us to remember his contribution for the society.

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