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.