THE SAGA OF PERPETUAL STRUGGLE

Posted: November 18, 2011 in Icons, The NamoLeague Times
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THE STORY OF THE SIMPLE YEARNING, SELFLESS CHURNING AND SUBLIME LEARNING OF DR. JIVRAJ MEHTA

First Chief Minister of Gujarat, pioneer of Medical Education in India, pioneer of Hospital Organization in India, personal doctor to Gandhiji – Dr. Jivraj Mehta. He was the architect of not only his own life, but he lent a new direction to the medical science of India.

EARLY LIFE, ACADEMICS

Jivraj Narayan Mehta was born on 29th August 1887 in Amreli, a small town in Saurashtra in Gujarat. His family struggled to make two ends meet. But this could not obstruct the goals and the spirit of Dr. Mehta. This spirit was further shored up, thanks to the strong influence of his grandmother, a woman of drive and determination, and to the encouragement of his schoolteacher Apte Sahib. He often studies under the streetlights. He also gave tuitions to supplement the family income.
Dr. Mehta took up medicine with the inspiration from Dr. Eduljee Rustomji Dadachandjee, a civil surgeon in Amreli. He secured admission into the Grant Medical College and Sir J.J. Hospital, Bombay. His medical education was sponsored by the Seth VM Kapol Boarding Trust. He was also endowed with the Jamkhande scholarship -a scholarship that was reserved for the poorest of the freshly admitted students.
Dr. Mehta topped his class in medicine. In his final year, he won seven of the eight prizes open to his batch and shared the eighth prize with his hostel roommate Kashinath Dikshit. He further, acquired a prestigious fellowship from the Tata Education Foundation and pursued masters from London Hospital Medical College. Mehta lived from 1909 to 1915 in London. He was the president of the Indian Students Association in London where he studied medicine and did his FRCS there. He was a junior doctor in the Out-Patients Department of The London Hospital before working in The London Hospital Pathological Institute as Pathological Assistant. He won University gold medal in his MD examinations in 1914. Later, in 1915 he had been made a member of the prestigious Royal College of Physicians of London.

FROM A DOCTOR TO A NATIONALIST

Following his British education, he returned to India and entered into private practice that was quite rewarding. After leaving London, Dr Mehta returned to India, where he married Hansa, kin to the Diwan of Baroda. Meanwhile, he came in touch with Gandhiji and served as his personal doctor. He served many positions like:

  • The first ‘Dewan’ (Prime Minister) of the erstwhile Baroda state in free India, sworn-in on September 4, 1948
  • Director General of health services
  • Secretary to the Ministry of health
  • Minister of public works, finance, industry and prohibition for the then province of Bombay
  • First Chief Minister of the newly formed Gujarat state from April 1960 to September 1963
  • Indian high commissioner to the United Kingdom (1963–66)

MEDICAL SERVICES

Dr. Jivraj Mehta was the founder-architect of Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College and King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. He devotedly served the cause of these institutions in the unenviable post of their first Dean over an eventful period of 18 years (1925-42). He was thrice elected president of the All India Medical Congress and president of the Indian Medical Association.
Dr Mehta’s suggestions, based on his London Hospital experiences, for the organization of the new hospital were radically different from the traditional design of teaching hospitals in India, where each department tended to be located in isolated blocks. He suggested that the whole medical college be housed in one building, encouraging co-operation between different departments. Also at Dr Mehta’s suggestion, the KEM Hospital was the first in India to have the Out-patients Department housed within the main hospital building. Here the first heart transplant and the birth of the first test-tube baby in India were to take place and the medical school became one of the most successful in India.

When Dr. Jivraj Mehta died in 1977, aged 91, a hospital in Ahmedabad was named after him.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=The%20Saga%20Of%20Perputal%20Struggle_620

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