Lives of the fellows

Charu Chandra Kapila

b.10 October 1904 d.? October 1992
OBE(1943) MB BS Rangoon(1929) MRCS LRCP(1930) MRCP(1930) DMRE(1931) DTM&H(1933) FRCP(1961) FAMSI(1962)

Lieutenant-general Charu Chandra Kapila was a distinguished military doctor in the Indian Army and a former director general of the Armed Forces Medical Services. He continued a family tradition of public service; his father was a civil servant in Burma and his maternal grandfather worked for the state government of the Punjab. Kapila was born in Myitkyina, Upper Burma, then a part of India, was educated locally and later attended the Government High School in Rangoon. He went on to Rangoon University, where he excelled, completing his degree in 1929. He was awarded a scholarship by the Government of Burma for overseas study in the UK and went to London to do postgraduate training, working in the Brompton Chest Hospital between 1931 and 1932 as clinical assistant to Harold Batty Shaw [Munk's Roll, Vol.IV, p.467].

He began his military career in the Indian Medical Service in 1933 and, as usual at that time, was posted in several civilian posts. In 1936 he was appointed as a civil surgeon and district health officer, working in Bhamo, Burma. During the war years he worked chiefly as a commandant of military hospitals and was awarded the OBE for distinguished services in the field. He returned to Burma and worked as professor of pathology at the University of Rangoon during 1947, before returning to India as commandant of the Central Military Pathology Laboratory in Poona. In 1950 he was appointed professor of medicine at the Armed Forces Medical College in Poona with the rank of colonel. He held the post for three years and went on to be assistant director of medical services of a division. In 1956 he returned to the Armed Forces Medical College as a professor of medicine. From 1958 to 1960 he was director of medical research at the Armed Forces Medical Services in New Delhi. In 1960 he again returned to the Armed Forces Medical College, where he was commandant for two years. His last military post was as director general of the Armed Forces Medical Services at the Ministry of Defence, New Delhi. He officially retired from the Army in October 1964, but continued his medical work, heading the medical wing of the Atomic Energy Commission for two years. Later he was a medical adviser to Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd - a government agency. His last post was as an honorary physician to a charitable clinic, the Freemasons Polyclinic and Laboratory in Janpath, New Delhi, which he attended almost until his death, in spite of poor health. He was also a founder fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, India.

He was a man of many parts. A brilliant student and a keen sportsman, he is remembered by his colleagues for his light hearted and jovial disposition. He was trim and always neatly dressed and very quick on his feet. He had a philosophical bent of mind which viewed all life’s tribulations with equanimity. He married Vidya Devi in 1923 and they had one daughter. Sadly he outlived them both, and in his last months of declining health was cared for in the Military Hospital by a sister and brother.

S Padmavati

(Volume X, page 274)

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