It was 1920, and the island city of Bombay had only one medical college, the Grant Medical College. India was under British rule and naturally the college was managed by the British. No Indian doctors were appointed irrespective of their academic background and experience.This was the time when the country was in the throes of the independence movement. Local nationalistic leaders felt that the city should have a medical college that is established only with the help of locally generated funds without taking any help from the British rulers.
Through donations from the Tilak Swaraj Funds, on the 4th of September 1921, the National Medical College was established This College started functioning at the Victoria Cross Lane, Byculla. The founding fathers wanted to train doctors who could serve not only through hospitals, but would also reach out to the community. Incidentally Ayurveda was an obligatory part of the curriculum in our college. As, in those days, even the Universities were controlled by the British the founders affiliated the institution to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Bombay and the first batch of students was admitted for its Licentiate Medical Practitioner (LMP) course.
The People’s Free Hospital was therefore set up close to the present campus and near where the YMCA stands today. Strapped as they were for funds – not being able to ask the government for aid, the administrators were always on the lookout for local support.
Fortuitously, at this time Dr AL Nair, the person after whom the road, on which we are situated today, is also named came into the picture. He was the proprietor of the Powell and Co. dealing in medical supplies and equipments. He magnanimously donated two acres of his land for the hospital campus. In 1925, Dr Nair also helped set up a well-equipped hospital which he named after his mother Bai Yamunabai Laxman Nair. He also donated funds to run the hospital. Incidentally, the story goes that the money donated was from the proceeds of the sale of land used to build the neighbouring Bombay Central Station!
Much later, Mr. MN Desai, popularly known as Topiwala Desai, made a generous contribution of Rs. 5 lacs to the College – which was then named after him as the Topiwala National Medical College.
In 1946, the municipal corporation of the city of Bombay passed a resolution taking over the college and the hospital and acknowledging the high standards of education and the strong support from the Municipal Corporation, the Bombay University also affiliated the twin institutions.
Since then without looking back the TN Medical College and BYL Nair Hospital have surged ahead and established themselves as premier institutions of the city. The institution boasts of the oldest Gastroenterology department. We are also credited with many other firsts – like the Rheumatology and dermatopathology services.
Ours is the only college in the city to have a speech and audiology department offering formal training. We were also the first to perform robotic. Ours is the only public hospital in the city to offer urodynamic studies and hyperbaric oxygen services. Ours is the first public hospital to have 7 of our depts. that have been ISO-9001 certified.
The campus has expanded from the two acres donated by Mr. Nair in 1946 to twenty acres in 2006 and the number of buildings in the campus has increased manifold. Today, with the infrastructure of the 1300 bedded BYL Nair Charitable Hospital behind it, TNMC makes an ideal breeding ground for budding medicos of the 21st century. It provides training courses in more than 25 different medical and allied branches, including 9 superspeciality courses.