Located on Belgachia Road (renamed Khsudiram Bose Sarani), RG Kar Medical College & Hospital owes its origin to the Calcutta School of Medicine, established in 1886 at 161 Baithakkhana Road, to ensure self sufficiency in medical education and services in the colonial city of Calcutta. The institution shifted to 155, Bowbazar Street in the same year and during January 1887, it again moved to 117 Bowbazar Street.
During those early days, the public health was in an appalling state and the vast diseased population of the locals was at the mercy of untrained physicians and quack doctors. In addition to that, the qualified native doctors were paid less than their European counterparts and were harassed and humiliated in every possible opportunity. Meanwhile, a great sense of Nationalism was also growing among the elite section of the population. The rapid growth of the national feeling and the great urge to serve the ailing poor Indians, associated with the discriminating policy of the British Government, gave birth to the burning desire to spread medical education among the talented and interested young Indians and the dream of developing a Non Government Medical Educational Institute in the city.
That was the situation, when Dr Radha Gobinda Kar, the lion hearted son of Dr Durga Das Kar, returned from England in 1886. He had no intention to serve the discriminating and racist British Government and had the dream of establishing a non-government medical teaching institute to create qualified Indian doctors and in turn, serve the poor ailing countrymen. Fortunately, he earned the whole-hearted support of some similar minded eminent personalities, like Dr Mahendranath Benerjee, Dr Bipin Behari Moitra, Dr Akshoy Kumar Dutta, Dr BG Banerjee, Dr Kunda Bhattacharya, Dr M.l.De and others.
They convened a meeting on 18 October 1886, where a resolution was taken to establish a non-government medical institution in the city, as soon as possible. Accordingly, the Calcutta School of Medicine was established, which was renamed as the Calcutta Medical School in the month of August 1887 and properly equipped with necessary permission from the government, dissection of human body started in the institution during the 1889-1890 session.
For the construction of a building of its own, a plot of land of about 12 bighas was purchased in 1898, at the cost of 12,000 Rupees in Belgachia, which is the present site of the hospital. Within a short time, a one-storey building came up at a cost of around 70,000 Rupees, complete with 30 beds for the indoor patients and during the following year, the Calcutta Medical School completely shifted to the newly constructed hospital building. In 1903, the institution merged with another nongovernmental educational institute, ‘College of Physicians and surgeons of Bengal’ and the amalgamated institution came to be known as the ‘Calcutta Medical School & College of Physicians and Surgeons of Bengal’. While the school had a three-year course in Bengali medium, the college maintained a course of four years in English medium.
After more than a decade, at the insistence of the government, the college satisfactorily completed certain formalities to get affiliation of the Calcutta University and consequently the name of the college was changed to ‘Belgachia Medical College’. The inaugural function of the college, held on 5 July 1916, was attended by Lord Carmichael the then Governor of Bengal and 48 students were admitted in the first batch.
After that, the name of the college was again changed to Carmichael Medical College in 1919, in recognition of his sincere help towards developing the hospital. Dr Radha Gobinda Kar, the man behind the foundation of the first non-governmental medical institution in Asia, became the first secretary of the institution and held the post until his death on 19 December 1918.
After independence of India, the name of the institution was finally changed to ‘RG Kar Medical College & Hospital’, in recognition of his significant contribution to the foundation and development of the institution.
Apart from the normal activities of a medical college and hospital, RG Kar Medical College & Hospital gifted three Olympians to the country in the same year. Three students of the college, Talimeran Ao (Captain of the Football team), Suhas Chatterjee (a member of the Water polo team) and Bimal Chandra (a member of the Swimming team) represented India in the London Olympiad in 1948. However, that was not the end of it. In 1956, Samar Banerjee (Badru), an ex student of the college, was also selected to lead the Indian Football team in Melbourne Olympics.