National Doctors Day (India) – Overview

National Doctor’s Day is an annual celebration in India which occurs on July 1st. The day is a day of celebration – a day when we acknowledge the amazing contribution that all medical professionals give to our society.

Though it is called National Doctor’s Day, it is of course a day when we celebrate everyone involved in the medical profession, from nurses to surgeons. This important national holiday is celebrated up and down the country. It has a fascinating origin, which this article will now go on to explain.

The origin of National Doctors Day in India.

National Doctors Day in India began in homage to a particular doctor: Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy. The date chosen is the date of both his birth and his death: he was born on July 1st 1882, and he died 80 years later exactly on July 1st 1962. He was also the second Chief Minister of West Bengal, and a member of the Hindu reform movement that was known as Brahmo Samaj. National Doctor’s Day. He was not just a celebrated medical professional: he was also a freedom fighter on India’s behalf. As a result of his services to the country on both counts, he was awarded – in 1961 – the Bharat Ratna award. This is highest civilian honour that it is possible to award a citizen of India.

Dr Roy studied at medical school in Calcutta. It is interesting to note that he was also accepted to study at an engineering college and he chose medical school over engineering – if his choice had gone the other way, his career would have been very different and India may still not have a national doctor’s day! Throughout his career, starting from his earliest appointment in the Provincial Medical Service to his work as the Chief Minister, he believed that India would not be able to achieve swaraj – or self rule – unless Indian citizens were healthy in both their minds and their bodies. So, we can say, that his political ambitions and his scientific interests were closely linked.

The significance of National Doctor’s Day.

This day is very important because medical professionals are so crucial to all of our lives. Perhaps a doctor or midwife helped your mother to give birth to you – and if so, this means that you were helped by the medical profession from day one. Doctors and other medical professionals help us when we are sick and very literally save thousands of lives every single day. A doctor can also be a listening ear to our problems, and mental health professionals recognise that health is not just something about the physical aspects of the body but also about the happiness and sanity of the mind. Doctors are also constantly pushing medical research further – not just applying existing cures but also trying to find better and better cures for human ailments. On National Doctor’s Day, we acknowledge all of these wonderful things that medical professionals do for us.

In addition, National Doctor’s Day is a day for educating young people. If we are a parent with a son or a daughter who has an aptitude for medicine, or a schoolteacher who has a girl or boy in their class who is great at science, National Doctor’s Day can be a great stimulus for getting them talking about, interested in, and thinking about joining, the medical profession. National Doctor’s Day is a day for all of us: young and old, doctors and non doctors, and it is all about acknowledging medical professionals and remembering the life of one important doctor in particular.

How we celebrate National Doctor’s Day.

National Doctor’s Day is an official day in the calendar, and it can be marked by special TV programmes, political speeches, informative media articles about Doctor Roy and events in schools and universities that are devoted to learning about the medical profession. National Doctor’s Day can also be a day that is celebrated more informally by doctors and medical professionals who use the day as a motivation to get together and to socialise with each other.

Other National Doctor’s Day celebrations.

India is not the only country to have a day dedicated to the medical profession. There are National Doctors Days or similar occasions throughout the world. However, they fall on different days to the day in India because – as we have seen – India’s National Doctors Day is times to coincide with the birth and the death anniversaries of a particular historical personage. In Iran, for example, National Doctor’s Day is on August 23rd. This date was chosen because it is the birthday of the celebrated medieval Islamic physician Avicenna. In the United States, it is March 30th, and this date was suggested by Eudora Brown Almond because it was the date on which anaesthesia was first used on a patient (this occurred in 1842). In Brazil, the National Doctor’s Day is October 18th. This date was chosen because it is the day of Saint Luke who in the Catholic tradition was a doctor. These are just a few examples of the National Doctors Day celebrations that happen not just in India but around the world, and it seems that all of them have an interesting story behind the date.


Get ready for the next national doctor’s day. It’s almost certain that a member of the medical profession has impacted positively on your life in some way, at some point. Perhaps you or a family member work in this profession. Either way, we can all get behind National Doctor’s Day – you might want to send a card thanking the doctor who helped you, read up on the life of Dr Roy, or give a small gift to, or hold a small party with, some of your medical student films. We can all take this annual day as an opportunity to learn more about India’s history, read up on medicine, and take time to reflect on the ways in which doctors provide a vital service to our community in India.

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