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History

The annals of the B. D. Petit Parsee General Hospital represent a facet of a bygone era in the history of the Parsis. The early 19th century marked the golden age of Parsi charity. It also marked the phenomenal rise of one of the smallest communities in the world to fame and prosperity. The benevolence of Parsi charity extended to all castes and communities. It was only in a few cases that Parsi charity was restricted to the community. The B. D. Petit Parsee General Hospital was one such instance.

Approximately a decade before a properly established Parsee General Hospital was built, the community was passing through a phase of strenuous thinking as to how to preserve the community from the ravages of the bubonic plague. The Petits felt very strongly that their small community needed a proper general Hospital that would take care of the health and well being of the Parsis – an aspect that was neglected. With this background, the idea behind building The B. D. Petit Parsee General Hospital was born.

It was Mr. Jehangir Bomanjee Petit who projected into the realm of reality. In 1905, he issued under his signature a prospectus or appeal to the community to raise funds for the establishment of the Hospital. This marked the first stage in the evolution of the Hospital.

It was pursuant to this appeal the Jehangir's father Seth Bomanji came forward with a donatin of immovable property called "Cumballa Hill Family Hotel" and securities of the face value of Rs.50,000. The provisional committee constituted under the prospectus approved and accepted the donation and agreed to name the Hospital after Bomanji. Accordingly, Bomanji wrote to the then trustees of Parsee Panchayet expressing his desire to create a trust of the said donation and requested them to act as trustees, which the then trustees of the Parsee Panchayet agreed to do and accordingly a trust deed dated 12 April 1906 was executed whereby the property vested in the Panchayet trustees as custodians for the Hospital and upon the trusts for the objects intents and purposes as mentioned in the deed. Though the property stands in the name of the trustees of the Parsee Panchayet as mentioned below, everything regarding the administration and management of the trust is done by a Managing Committee of a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, which Society is a separate entity independent of the control of the trustees. As mentioned above, even the property is held by the trustees of the Panchayet only as custodians and that too for the benefit of the Hospital and strictly upon the trusts powers and provisions contained in the trust deed.

Thereafter the foundation stone of the Hospital was laid in 1907, the by then Governor of Bombay, Sir George Clarke. The provisional committee thereafter in 1911 began to formulate Rules and Regulations for the Hospital control and management. The crowning event followed on 27 March 1912, with the opening of the Hospital by the same Governor who had laid the foundation stone. In 1921 or 1922, the general board of management decided to form themselves into an incorporated society and accordingly the society registered on14th November 1922 under the Societies Registration Act 1860. The society thus became the supreme body controlling the affairs of the Hospital. The society substantially adopted the Rules and Regulations from the Rules and Regulations of 1911, which rules have been amended from time to time.

The imposing stone facade of the Hospital building faces a lush and beautiful garden. This peaceful oasis is unbelievably off one of Mumbai’s premier upmarket but very busy roads. Since the Hospital is a little away from the main road, it is not disturbed by the noise. Parsis have inherited a legacy that exists nowhere else in any community. The B. D. Petit Parsee General Hospital owes its existence to the social spirit which influenced the far seeing vision of its founder – Seth Bomanji Dinshaw Petit and his son Jehangir.

Bomanji was the 12th child of his father Sir Dinshaw M. Petit, First Baronet and Lady Sakarbai Petit. The famous Animal Hospital at Parel in Mumbai is named after Lady Sakarbai. He soon earned the honoured appellation of a good economist and finance expert and was foremost amongst the Indian Mill Agents. He was one of the senior partners of several family owned mills besides other businesses. He was also the President of the Mill Owners Association and President and Director of many other institutions. No one returned from his house empty handed. He also gave to many cosmopolitan causes – for instance to The London School of Tropical Medicine. Bomanji’s name is being recited in Dhup Nirang in every Parsi Uthamna ceremony.

Bomanji’s son Jehangir was the life and soul of the Hospital. It was he who gave shape to the final idea of a Hospital and worked ceaselessly in a professional manner. The famous J. B. Petit High School for Girls” is named after him. His younger brother Dhunjibhoy and his son Maneckji followed in his footsteps. It is said of Maneckji that there could not have been a more generous and caring human being.

When Maneckji passed away in 1982, his cousin Dinshawji Hormusji Petit, a solicitor by profession, took over as President of the Hospital. It was to his credit that he brought in the concept that even the rich should be treated at the Hospital, thereby subsidizing the poor. Dinshawji served the Hospital for over 50 years, starting as a young Committee Member and then becoming the Treasurer and later the Jt. Hon. Secretary and thereafter Vice President and finally as President. His long innings at the Hospital were marked by his geniality and dedicated hard work.

Today, Dinshawji Petit's son Homa Petit, also a Solicitor by profession is the President of the Hospital. Under his guidance, the Hospital has undergone a sea change. His legal acumen and the professional manner in which the Hospital is run, has taken the Institution to new heights. The beautiful heritage building of the Hospital has retained its old imposing stone façade, but the interior is very modern and has all the amenities and comforts of a modern day Hospital. The state of the art equipments are always updated, to keep up with the best hospitals.
Today the Hospital has 55% of the beds for free and subsidized patients and only 45% of the beds are for paying patients.

The Petits in general have given away millions of rupees silently, for the good of not only their Community but for humanity and animals. They knew the art of making money and the joy to spend it for the happiness of others.
The Hospital though founded and nursed by the Petits, has thrived on the philanthropy of the Parsis. The fortunes of the Hospital has had many upheavals but it has survived with the grace of God. During the 1st world war, the Government of India requisitioned the Hospital for the wounded military personnel in 1916 and the Hospital was shifted to a bungalow which stood at the entrance of the B. D. Petit Road. With the outbreak of the 2nd world war, the management itself offered the Hospital for military use and the Hospital was shifted to a bungalow on Carmichael Road. Both the times the Hospital got temporary financial stability, which was very necessary.

In 1949, Dr. Gilder (then Minister of Health to the Government of Bombay), the only surviving member of the Honorary Visiting Staff appointed by the Hospital and a member of the first committee sent for one of his pupils Dr. Homi S. Mehta, then Police Surgeon of Bombay and Professor of Forensic Medicine at The Grant Medical Hospital to help the Hospital as its Honorary Secretary. Dr. Homi S. Mehta devoted himself completely in bringing about rapid growth in all the facilities offered by the Hospital and with help from Maneckji Petit and Dinshawji Petit (President) opened new/upgraded departments of Radiology, Pathology, Physiotherapy, Ophthalmology and Dental care and a full-fledged department of Nutrition within its own building and Residential quarters for Houseman and for Nurses were established. Dr. Homi Mehta was a strict disciplinarian but had a heart of gold and he guided the Hospital for 40 years (from 1950 – 1990) with great care.

The Hospital is a valuable asset of the community and it needs all the support of the ENTIRE community.

We sincerely pray that this community Hospital now entering its Centenary Year will survive forever, serving the noble cause of caring for the sick and the poorest of the poor.

 
The B.D. Petit Parsee General Hospital, Bomanjee Petit Road, Cumballa Hill, Mumbai - 400 036.
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