Dr. John Berry White, MRCS, a British Surgeon of the East India Company, was the pioneer to start Health Education and health care in Assam. He established a medical school known as ‘Berry White Medical School’ at Dibrugarh, Assam in 1898-99. In course of time this medical school was upgraded and on 3rd Nov., 1947 the Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh was established and it stands as the first medical college in Assam.
With increasing demands for health care and health education, the need for more medical colleges in Assam was keenly felt. The State Government in 1959 headed by Mr. B.P. Chaliha, the then Chief Minister of Assam, Mr. Fakaruddin Ali Ahmed, the then Finance Minister, and Mr. Rupram Brahma as the then Medical Minister of Assam decided to have a second medical college in Assam. On 7th Nov., 1959 the State Government set up an expert committee to go into the matter and submit their report.
The expert committee comprised of the following members:
- Dr. Basudev Narayan – member, Medical Council of India and
the Principal of Kakinda Medical College. He was the chairman of the committee.
- Dr. A.B. Dasgupta – Medical Secretary.
- Dr. B.L. Choudhury – Director of Health Services (DHS), Assam
- Dr. R.I. Cunvill – Director of Pasteur Institute, Shillong.
- Dr. S.N. Sarma – Principal, Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh.
- Dr. G.S. Das – M.L.A., Guwahati.
- Dr. B. Bhattacharyya – Silchar.
- Raisahab Apurba Dutta – Silchar.
- Dr. U.C. Bardoloi – Retired Director of Health Services, Guwahati.
The Assam Government decided to have both the medical colleges simultaneously from August, 1960. So a second technical expert committee was formed on 6th April, 1960 to go into the details with the following members:
- Dr. B.L. Choudhury – D.H.S.
- Dr. S.N. Sarma – Principal, Assam Medical College (AMC), Dibrugarh.
- Dr. I. Jahan – Prof. of Physiology, A.M.C., Dibrugarh.
- Dr. O. Lyngdoh – Prof. of Anatomy, A.M.C., Dibrugarh.
- Mr. Pundarikakhya Sarma – Chief Engineer Public Health.
After several rounds of discussions, the committee visited the sites at Ulubari, Jalukbari, Chandmari and other areas of the city of Guwahati and also different parts of Silchar. The committee submitted its report on 26th April, 1960 stating that it was feasible to start the Gauhati Medical College from August,1960 in the vacant Ayurvedic College buildings and the Physical Education Training buildings at Jalukbari, Guwahati but no such place was immediately available at Silchar to start the Silchar Medical College. The committee recommended Ulubari for Gauhati Medical College and Ghungoor for Silchar Medical College to be the permanent sites.
So the State Government decided to start the colleges with preclinical classes in the vacant buildings of the Ayurvedic College at Jalukbari, Guwahati with 60 students for Gauhati Medical College and 40 students for Silchar Medical College as a twin college. By a State Govt. order no. MM-D/275/60/45 dated 26th June, 1960, Dr. S.N. Sarma, the then Principal and Supdt. of the Assam and Supdt. of the Assam Medical College & Hospital, Dibrugarh was entrusted with the responsibility to make all necessary arrangements for starting the preclinical classes at Jalukbari from August, 1960 and also for taking necessary steps for establishment of the proposed medical colleges at Gauhati and Silchar in addition to his duties in the AMC, Dibrugarh.
Accordingly the vacant Ayurvedic College buildings at Jalukbari were taken over and arrangements were started by August, 1960. On the 20th September, 1960, the functioning of the Gauhati Medical College was formally inaugurated. The first batch of the 100 students were interviewed and selected in the AMC, Dibrugarh in the last week of September, 1960. Preclinical classes were started from 10th October, 1960. Members of the teaching staff were sent from AMC, Dibrugarh and they were:
- Dr. I. Jahan – Prof. of Physiology and Prof. in-charge for day to day works.
- Dr. O. Lyngdoh – Prof. of Anatomy and to look after the official works.
- Dr. P. Goswami – for Biochemistry.
- Mr. Narayan Deka – joined as Asstt. Prof. of Chemistry.
Other staff members were appointed gradually. There was no provision for staff and students at Jalukbari. At Chandmari, about 15 km. away from Jalukbari, 73 tenements of the Industrial Housing Colony, some vacated houses of the Civil Surgeon’s office, and also some vacated houses of the Engineering Institute were acquired where accommodations were provided to the staff and students who did not have their accommodations elsewhere at Guwahati. Students and staff were transported in Govt. buses at subsidized rates from Chandmari to Jalukbari and back. Lady students were accommodated in Ayurvedic College hostel building when available. Subsequently two temporary barracks were also built in the Physical Education Training building at Jalukbari where second year students were accommodated while the first year students had to come as before.
The Gauhati Medical College (GMC) took its start under the stewardship of Professor I. Jahan from October, 1960 to June, 1961. Professor S.N. Sarma was transferred from AMC, Dibrugarh and he took over the charge of the Office of the Principal, Gauhati Medical College on 3rd June, 1961. Professor S.N. Sarma was the founder Principal of the Gauhati Medical College and he took great interest in the construction of the permanent college and hospital complexes. Paraclinical and clinical departments were started in the Civil Hospital Campus at Panbazar, Ulubari Maternity Home, Emigration Hospital (later on Infectious Diseases Hospital) and T.B. Hospital at Birubari, Guwahati as and when they became available. The members of the teaching staff were brought from Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh with the following as the heads of the respective departments:
- Dr. L.M. Kakati – Pathology Deptt.
- Dr. Alimuddin Ahmed – Pharmacology Deptt.
- Dr. D.C. Choudhury – Medicine Deptt.
- Dr. J. Mahanta – Surgery Deptt.
- Dr. R.K. Das – Obstetrics & Gynaecology
- Dr. L.C. Dutta – Ophthalmology Deptt.
- Dr. S.N. Sarma – (Principal, GMC)- E.N.T.
- Dr. P.C. Changkakati – Radiology Deptt.
- Dr. Cheniram Dutta – Asstt. Prof. in Social & Preventive Medicine
- Civil Surgeon, Guwahati – Forensic Medicine Deptt.
Due to non availability of a qualified person for professorship in SPM, the Medical Council of India permitted Dr. E. Lyngdoh, Professor of Medicine to be in-charge of the SPM deptt. as its head. Later on Dr. A.C. Patowary took over as its head. Dr.G.C.Medhi took over as the Head of the Deptt. of Forensic Medicine from the Civil Surgeon, Guwahati. Prof. I. Jahan was appointed as the Vice-Principal and Deputy Supdt. of the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital. Mr. Sarbananda Das was appointed as the Head Asstt. of the college and Mr. Basanta Goswami became the Head Asstt. of the hospital. When Mr. Sarbananda Das was left as secretary of the Silchar Medical College Mr. R. Nobis joined as secretary in GMC.
The Govt. of Assam decided to construct the permanent buildings of the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital on the Narakachal hill. The P.W.D.,Govt. of Assam, took up the survey and started road constructions in 1962 in the Narakachal hill. The Assam Govt. Construction Corporation (AGCC) started building construction in Feb., 1962. The architects entrusted were Mr. J.K.Choudhury and Gulzar Sing of Delhi. Mr.J.K.Choudhury, an Assamese from Goalpara, was a reputed architect and also the then President of the All India Architects’ Association. Hostels were given the first priority and started in the foot hills of the Narakachal hill. The hostels were completed and taken over and occupied in between August, 1965 and October, 1966. Girls’ hostel could be occupied in June, 1968.
Late Mr. B.P. Chaliha, then Chief Minister of Assam, laid the foundation stone of the college building in the year 1963. The construction of the main college and administrative building at the Narakachal hill top could be started by the AGCC in April, 1965 after the road was completed to the top by the PWD. Part by part the main college building was taken over from April, 1968 to which Preclinical. Paraclinical and Central Library was shifted by August, 1968. Meanwhile, the Silchar Medical College was inaugurated in its permanent building under construction at Ghungoor on 15th August, 1968 and thereby the twin got separated. Dr. Rudra Goswami was put in charge of the Silchar Medical College.
In September, 1968 the permanent building of the Gauhati Medical College under process of construction was inaugurated by the then Governor of Assam Mr. B.K.Nehru. On 20th September,1968 the then Chief Minister of Assam Mr. B.P. Chaliha laid the foundation stone of the hospital by the side of the college main building at Narakachal hill. The then Medical Minister Mr. Chatrasing Teron hoisted a flag in the permanent hospital site. However, this construction had to be abandoned because of the presence of large rocks. As stone breaking and clearing would incur massive expenditure the State Govt. decided to shift the hospital construction to the foot hill of Narakachal. The foundation stone was laid down on 15th August, 1975 by Shri Sarat Ch.Sinha, the then Chief Minister of Assam. National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) was entrusted with the responsibility for construction of the hospital building. The new hospital at its permanent site at the Narakachal foot hill started functioning since 1984.
The Gauhati Medical College was inspected by Medical Council of India on every first examination of the first batch, that is, the first, second and final MBBS held in 1962, 1964 and 1965 respectively. There were inspections also by the Gauhati University, to which GMC is affiliated, in 1961, 1964 and 1968. Dr. C.S. Patel, President of the Medical Council of India inspected the GMC from 15th to 18th March, 1966. He was so impressed with the progress of the Institution and permitted to start Post Graduate courses in GMC. In February, 1969 Post Graduate started in Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Pathology, Pharmacology, Community Medicine, Medicine, Surgery, Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology. General Medical Council of U.K. recognized the bachelors degree of this college in 1969, thereby enabling the graduates to pursue higher studies in that country.