Mumbai, then Bombay, perhaps was the first Indian city to run an inde-pendent Orthopaedic Department in a general hospital. Late Dr R J Katrak was the first trained surgeon to restrict his practice only to Orthopaedics. He established the first Orthopaedic Department at Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children, Parel, Mumbai. Within a short time he was appointed to King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, which was attached to a medical college and launched a new Orthopaedic Department. Thus, importance of orthopaedics in surgical practice was first recognized in Mumbai. In those times, osteo-articular tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, osteomyelitis and deficiency disorders in children dominated the clinical scene. In early post-World War II era, trauma was relegated to second place because of paucity of new ideas in its management.
In 1953 World Health Organization sent a medical team to India.
Sir Henry Osmond – Clarke was the Orthopaedic Surgeon on the team. Sir Harry Platt also visited Mumbai in December 1958 to attend Association of Surgeons of India’s (ASI) annual conference. Mumbai had stalwarts in Orthopaedics like Drs RJ Katrak, MG Kini, AK Talwalkar, KT Dholakia and KS Masalawala. Dr. Kini was at Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital (COH) run by Society for Rehabilitation of Crippled Children. Dr. Katrak was past sixty years. Dr. Talwalkar was fifty and Dr. Dholakia was forty while Dr. Masalawala was in between the two. Dr. (Miss) PK Mullaferoze chose to work full time at COH. Dr. MV Sant devoted himself only to rehabilitation and had his center was next door to COH. All these stalwarts were busy with their work and there was little interaction amongst them. In late fifties, another group of not so senior surgeons like Drs. Vali, Chawra, Bhansali and Joshipura joined the scene and yearned for academic activities. By general consent a clinical meeting was held once a month in the evening; this was the first clinical activity city’s Orthopaedic Surgeons.
A couple of years later, Drs Bulcahndani. Gaitonde, Chaubal and I settled in Mumbai. Now the city had more than a dozen Orthopaedic Surgeons. In 1961, Orthopaedic Section of ASI (later Indian Orthopaedic Association) instituted Johnson and Johnson (J&J) Traveling Fellowship, Dr, AK Talwalkar was instrumental in initiating this fellowship and showed great wisdom, diligence and persuasiveness in this connection, There used to be a flurry of academic and social activity during the J&J Fellow’s annual visit to Mumbai. A strong impetus to academic activities came in the form of a professorial visit sponsored by British Council. Sir Herbert J Seddon of Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, London visited Mumbai for two weeks in March 1962. He attended and conducted clinical meetings at the city’s three medical colleges (LTMG Medical College was yet to be established). I had the privilege to organize all the activities during Sir Herbert’s visit. Taking a cue from this event, it was decided to continue to meet regularly for clinical deliberations. Dr AK Talwalkar’s enthusiasm and initiative is worth recording.
In 1964, Dr. RJ Katrak was elected an Honorary Fellow of British Orthopaedic Association: he was the first Indian to be so honoured. Mumbai’s Orthopaedic fraternity got together on the lawns of Seth GS Medical College to felicitate him in January 1965. A handsome fund was raised by generous donations by the fraternity. By general conscientious. Bombay Orthopaedic Society (BOS) was formed. Apart from Orthopaedic Section of ASI, this was the only Orthopaedic organization in India. A formal constitution was adopted and BOS came into being. Dr. Katrak served as the first president and I took over as a secretary while Drs. Mullaferoze and Masalawala were members of the executive committee. The newly formed society met every alternate month on a Sunday morning for a clinical session followed by lunch. All seniors and not so seniors regularly patronized these meeting and there were healthy clinical discussions and exchange of ideas. It was then the practice to elect the person most senior in age as the President of BOS: thus contests were avoided. Occasionally, some senior waived such privilege. The president’s tenure was for two years, while the secretary worked for three years. Over the years, as the number of surgeons increased. the tenure was usually enjoyed for only a year.
Encouraged by great support of colleague orthopaedic surgeons and eagerness to do more, it was proposed to hold a Regional Orthopaedic Conference. Since India is a large country and Orthopaedic section of ASI was the only academic body, many were unable to take advantage of its meetings. Since BOS was geographically situated in Western India, it was apt to name the conference, Western India Regional Orthopaedic Conference WIROC. First WIROC was held in Mumbai in November 1966. The meeting was spread over two days, however. under a pall of gloom due to premature death of our member, Dr. R M Gaitonde. Late Dr. Arthur E. DeSa then the President of ASL inaugurated the conference. It was decided to institute an Oration to honour Dr RJ Katrak. Dr. B. Mukhopadhya of Patna was the first Katrak Orator. For few initial years only outsiders of repute were invited as Katrak Orators: these included personalities like Drs. KS Grewal and NV Natrajan. In course of time, Katrak Orators are drawn from members of BOS, both from and outside Mumbai. To spread the gospel of Orthopaedics and to get more surgeons interested in the specialty, it was planned to hold such a conference annually and generally out of Mumbai. Orthopaedic surgeons from various parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnatak and Madhya Pradesh became our members. We traveled to Pune, Nashik, Sholapur, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mahabalcshwar and Mount Abu for annual conference. As years passed, BOS expanded its activities like dedicated symposia. Young Surgeon’s Forum, Clinical Quiz. Prizes for best presentation and Book award at WIROC. With the change in the Indian Orthopaedic Association, state chapters were formed. The role of WIROC became restricted though it attracted large attendance from neighbouring places.
In 1978. Dr K T Dholakia was elected to the high office of the Presidcnt of Societe lnternationale De Chirugie Orthopedique Et De Traumatologie (SICOT). At the felicitation function it was proposed to institute KT Dholakia Lecture, to be delivered every other year on a subject of Basic Science as related to Orthopaedics. WIROC thus had an oration and a lecture and a variety of other programmes. Dholakia Lecturers are usually outsiders.
BOS instituted a lecture programme to expand its activities in teaching, education and research. The first of such series was held in 1965. It used to be a three day programme. every six months. There was great enthusiasm amongst the students and the teachers and the attendance was large. Many participants came from outside Mumbai. One third of the lectures were on orthopaedic related disciplines. Feedback from the students was given adequate weightage for planning future programmes and the BOS President pulled up defaulting teachers.
In late eighties, it was thought prudent to register BOS as a society. A special meeting was callcd to frame a constitution and Dr Manelkar and I piloted it. It was also decided to have a library and an office for the Society.
Society continues its activities round the year: Clinical meetings and lectures are arranged every alternate month. Also are arranged courses on various aspects of Orthopaedics like Fractures, Spine, Hand Surgery, Joint Replacement and Arthroscopy. An exhaustive general programme known as ‘Advanced Course’ in modern practice of orthopaedics is a high point of the academic agenda.
Over the years, thirty-seven to be exact, BOS has grown in a mature body solely devoted to Orthopaedics and its sub-specialties. It is being run by people who put in their hard work and money. There are no personal gains. There is detailed and searching dialogue and discussion about affairs of society at its Annual General Body Meeting which acts as a watch dog and oversees activities of its executive arm the Executive Committee.
Silver Jubilee Conference of IOA which was held in Mumbai in 1980, is a feather in cap of Mumbai orthopaedic surgeons. All strata of Orthopaedic Surgeons put in their hearts and hard work to make this conference a big success. Even today, after more than twenty years it is considered a gold standard for conference organization from social, managerial and academic view point.
BOS alongwith MOA had organized the Golden Jubilee of IOA in Mumbai in the year 2005. The members had made it a memorable conference for years to follow.
L. N. Vora