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Biographical entry Gilder, Manchersha Dhanjibhai (1882 - 1979)

MRCS and FRCS 1909; BA Bombay 1901; LM&S 1905; MB MS London 1910; MD 1911; LRCP 1909.

5 November 1882
Bombay, India
20 May 1979


Manchersha Gilder was an eminent cardiologist in India who switched to the political field to hold important ministerial posts, twice to face imprisonment and to become Mahatma Gandhi's personal physician and cardiologist.

He was born in Bombay on 5 November 1882, one of the three children of Dhanjibhai Dorabji, a school teacher and President of the All-India Temperance Association, and Navazbai Bharucha. He was educated at St Xavier's College and the Grant Medical College, Bombay, where he distinguished himself as prizeman and medallist. Coming to London he studied medicine at University College Hospital, qualifying in 1910, enjoying two house posts and then working with Sir Thomas Lewis. He achieved the double distinction of passing the FRCS and the MD in the same year (the first Parsi to do so).

He was unable to practice surgery owing to a juvenile cataract and embarked on cardiology and research on the human electrocardiogram with Sir Thomas Lewis, contributing with publications on these and on the pulse. Returning to India in 1912 he was the first to start cardiological practice and own a cardiograph (this machine recorded on glass slides and is preserved in the cardiology museum of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Bombay). He held many staff and teaching appointments in Bombay and was active in the development of the King Edward VII Hospital, and became President of the Bombay Medical Union and President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Other interests included public health and a special interest in Alcoholics Anonymous, being personally responsible for the treatment of patients in six free beds in St George's Hospital, Bombay. He had a considerable library which he bequeathed to this hospital.

His political life began in 1926, first as a Member of Congress, then as Minister of Health 1936-1939, and again in 1945-1952. He first met Gandhi in 1932, attending the fast at Yeravda jail. He himself was arrested in 1939, released after eight months and re-arrested during the 'Quit India' movement 1942-44, again attending a Gandhi fast, and was released on the same day as the Mahatma. He was elected Mayor of Bombay in 1943 - the only Mayor to be elected but never to occupy office because of imprisonment. From 1952 to 1960 he became a Member of Rajya Sabha, Delhi.

He died on 20 May 1979, his wife Dr Ardeshir Contractor, obstetrician and gynaecologist, having predeceased him by 10 years. He was survived by his only daughter Dr Ketayun Machersha Gilder, who studied medicine at the Royal Free Hospital, London, before qualifying in Bombay.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from his daughter Dr K M Gilder].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England