Before Indian independence, people from Assam and other North Eastern states had to go to other states for medical education and advanced medical treatment. 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 with a donation of Rs. 50,000 – a magnificent amount at that time. 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.
While the other states had several medical colleges, Assam remained with only one. The need for more medical colleges in Assam was keenly felt. The State Govt. in 1959 headed by the then Chief Minister of Assam, Mr. B. P. Chaliha, the then Finance Minister, Mr. Fakaruddin Ali Ahmed, and the then Health Minister of Assam Mr. Rupram Brahma decided to have a second medical college in Assam.
On 7th Nov., 1959 the State Govt. set up an expert committee to go into the matter and submit their report. The expert committee comprised of the following members: 1. Dr. Basudev Narayan — member of the medical Council of India (which in turn was constituted in 1933) and also the Principal of Kakinda Medical College. He was the chairman of the committee. 2. Dr. A. B. Dasgupta — Medical Secretary. 3. Dr. B. L. Choudhury — Director of Health Services (DHS), Assam. 4. Dr. R. I. Cunvill — Director of Pasteur Institute, Shillong. 5. Dr. S. N. Sarma — Principal, Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh. 6. Dr. G. S. Das — M.L.A., Guwahati. 7. Dr. B. Bhattacharyya — Silchar. 8. Raisahab Apurba Dutta — Silchar, and 9. Dr. U. C. Bardoloi — Retired Director of Health Services, Guwahati
The above committee members visited different parts of the state, had consultation with representatives of the different strata of the society and ultimately recommended Gauhati (now Guwahati) which is the gateway of Assam, as the most suitable place for the second medical college in Assam. But the committee also found a cause to have a 3rd medical college in the Barak valley at Silchar and a 4th medical college at Tezpur in the north bank of Brahmaputra river. This subsequently lead to the birth of the Gauhati Medical College at Guwahati and the Silchar Medical College at Ghungoor, Silchar.
The State Govt. decided to have both the Gauhati Medical College and the Silchar Medical College simultaneously from August, 1960. So a second technical expert committee was formed on 6thApril, 1960 to go into the details with the following members:
1.Dr. B. L. Choudhury – D.H.S.
2.Dr. S. N. Sarma – Principal, Assam Medical College (AMC), Dibrugarh
3.Dr. I. Jahan – Prof. of Physiology, A.M.C., Dibrugarh
4.Dr. O. Lyngdoh – Prof. of Anatomy, A.M.C., Dibrugarh
5.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 Govt. 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.
In the last week of September,1960 the first batch of the 100 students were interviewed and selected in the AMC, Dibrugarh. Preclinical classes were started from 10th October, 1960.
Dr. I. Jahan was appointed professor in-charge of the college in addition to his own duties as Prof. & HOD of Physiology. Thus, the Gauhati Medical College (GMC) took its start under the stewardship of Professor I. Jahan.
Paraclinical and clinical departments were started in the Civil Hospital Campus at Panbazar, Guwahati since April, 1962.
In the 1st MBBS examination held in 1962 under the Gauhati University in which the AMC, Dibrugarh was also included, as many as nine students from GMC secured the first nine positions in the merit list. The Medical Council of India inspected the college during the final MBBS examination held in 1965. The I.M.C. inspector highly praised the standard of examination.
Meanwhile, the construction of the buildings for the Silchar Medical College was started at its permanent site at Ghungoor, Silchar and the College was inaugurated in its permanent building on 15th August, 1968 and thereby the twin got separated. The admission to the MBBS course was 50 students annually. Prof. Rudra Goswami took over the charge on 1st August, 1968 to be the first principal of the Silchar Medical College.
The professional courses started in the Boys’ Hostel No-II in a makeshift manner and the Civil Hospital, Silchar was taken over as its hospital in the year 1971. Thereafter, in the year1977-78, the main hospital building complex was commissioned.