Bhagabat Charan DasBMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g50 (Published 13 January 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g50
- Satya Sundar Das
Bhagabat Charan Das was born the second of right children in the village of Bagalpur in Orissa, India. His father was the leader of his village and a landowner. The family’s livelihood depended on cultivation and farming of his land. Although they had plenty of food to feed themselves and indeed the whole village, they did not have much money. This created problems as none of the sons wanted to stay farming the land in the village. They wanted to be educated, go to university, and do professional jobs—like their eldest cousin, who became a school teacher and role model for them and encouraged them to get higher education. Without sufficient money, B C Das had to struggle, but his mind was set on becoming a doctor as he had seen so much illness and suffering among the people in his village, and he wanted to help them. He got a scholarship to study medicine at Cuttack Medical College and gained his licentiateship in 1942. During this time he joined the non-violent “Quit India Movement” against British rule in India and was jailed for four months by the British. He joined the army as a doctor for a couple of years. Even then he endured a lot of financial hardship in helping his younger siblings to receive an education and two of his sisters to get married.
In the second world war in 1943-5 he served as a frontline medical officer for the British Army. He was first posted as regional medical officer for four months on the Burma front, where the British army were fighting the Japanese forces. Forced to retreat to Rangoon by the advancing Japanese army, they had to walk 75 miles in the Burmese jungle in the night, hiding in ditches during the day. It took …