Recollections of Dr. Shirish Daftary
(In his own inspiring words)

My father hailed from Morvi state of Kathiawar. After schooling he joined the Poona Engineering College, graduating at the top of his class in Civil Engineering. He was selected for the Bombay Service of Engineering. He thus joined the Public Works Department (PWD) of the then Bombay Presidency which included the present states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and erstwhile district of Sindh. This being a transferable job, the family moved to various towns periodically. In the year 1933, my father was working on the Sukker Barrage Scheme. I was born on Nov.30th.of that year. In my childhood, the family moved to Kumta, Kopergaon, Nasik and Pune, finally settling in Bombay. I therefore joined school at the age of 6 years. The greater part of my schooling was at the St. Xavier’s High School.  Although, I did well in academics, I had special liking for fiction, literature, elocution, debating and pursuing studies in languages. However I did well in Science and Mathematics as well. I passed the SSC examination in 1950 with distinction and was awarded a prize by the SSC Board for scoring the highest in the subject of Optional English.

As per the prevailing trends of the times, it was felt that the future chances of making a good living lay in pursuing a career in Engineering or Medicine. My father felt that a medical career offered a better opportunity to be independent and self-employed. Thus a decision was made to pursue a career in medicine. I completed two years of premedical studies at the Elphinstone College. In 1952, I joined the Seth G. S. Medical College. During my undergraduate studies, I was awarded the Junior Clinical Gold Medal in Medicine, and graduated in 1957 with distinction in Ophthalmology and Forensic Medicine.

As an undergraduate student, I was most impressed by the teachings of Dr. Purandare, Dr. Masani and Dr. (Mrs.) De Sa Souza. I marveled at the event of witnessing the first childbirth, and was in awe after watching the first cesarean childbirth. The thought of participating in the event of birth (future of mankind) was fascinating. As a young medical student, I had noticed the signboards of many maternity homes in the city too. Being averse to general practice, I reasoned that it might be prudent to consider a career in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, which offered a reasonable combination of medicine and surgery.

During my earlier residency days, Dr. Mahendra Parikh and Dr. Ajit Mehta guided me ably, and instilled confidence in me. They encouraged me to pursue academics. In the year 1960, I passed the MD examination. I then joined the Nowrosji Wadia Maternity Hospital as a registrar. My colleagues, Dr. Rohit Bhatt and late Dr. S.K.Joshi were a great source of inspiration. They guided me during surgery, and initiated me into the practice of planning projects, executing them, analyzing data and writing scientific papers. They encouraged me to present scientific papers at conferences, and to participate in workshops, CMEs and seminars.

I recall that in the year 1961, I was assigned the duty of presenting an analytical data on the subject of Vesicular Mole, based on hospital data covering a 10 year period. I collected the information, read up on the subject, looked up the prevailing literature, and wrote out the paper. Whilst waiting for the session to begin, we were chatting in the resident doctors’ room. Dr. Rohitbhai casually asked me for the written text. Whilst we were chatting, he quietly disappeared from the room, At 12.00 noon, the consultants of the hospital, and visiting dignitaries were assembled in the auditorium. The peon came to summon me. Rohitbhai was nowhere in sight. I felt the world collapsing around me. As I entered the hall, I felt like a sacrificial animal being led to be slaughtered. However, keeping my wits around me, I began my presentation. Sometime later, I could see Dr. Rohitbhai sitting in the last row, with a twinkle in his eye. With God’s good graces, the talk went off well. There was a great deal of applause. I was much relieved. On that day I learnt an important lesson that it is always better to address your audience directly. A piece of paper held in your hand is like a wall between you and your audience. A direct eye-to-eye contact helps to sustain interest, in case the audience seems bored, you are at liberty to omit details and go ahead, it gives you the opportunity to interrupt the talk with an anecdote. It is wise to make simple slides, and avoid crowded slides that look like pages from the Railway Time-table. From that date onwards, I had made it a practice to talk to my audience, I have been amply rewarded. In the year 1962, Dr. Sir John Peel, the then president of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Obstetrician to the Queen) visited Bombay with the object of granting recognition to our posts for eligibility for the MRCOG examination. On that occasion, a seminar was organized in the Main Lecture Theatre of the Seth G.S. Medical College. I had been selected to present our data on “Changing Trends in the management of Placenta Previa – A thirty Year Review” The Hall was chock-a-block full. The resounding applause said it all. I had come out with flying colors.

In the year 1964, after completing my residency training, I was awarded the Fulbright Travelling Scholarship that took me to Cleveland (USA) for residency training under the chairmanship of the renowned teacher Prof. Edward J. Quilligan. As I was new to the place, and short of funds, I took interest in teaching young American students in my spare times. Also having completed my training in India, I was very much adept to handling emergency surgery as compared to the residents there. Unlike in India, in the U.S.A. the students, interns, co-residents and nurses send independent reports to the chairman on the performance of all residents. After reading the glowing reports, Prof. Quilligan realized that I was already well trained. He encouraged me to take on more teaching sessions from then onwards.

Four months into the residency, I was informed that three posts of Assistant Honorary had been advertised at the N. Wadia Maternity Hospital. I sought an appointment with Dr. Quilligan and explained my dilemma. I was keen to apply for the post in India; however, I was bound by legal contract to serve the Cleveland City Hospital. He felt that since I was already in the U.S. why not complete the training. After all the parent institute in India would always take you back on your return. I explained that In India things do not work that way. He was not only kind enough to relieve me from the contract, but he forwarded my application to India. Unknown to me, he even wrote a personal note of recommendation to Dr. K. M. Masani the then dean of Wadia Hospital, stating how happy he had been with my work in his department. Later after learning about my selection, Dr. Quilligan went one step further, he relieved me from my duties, but continued to keep me on the pay roll. He arranged a months training in cytology, and thereafter, he sent me for a fortnight to Boston Women’s Hospital and John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to visit those departments to see the latest work in our specialty. I felt that god had ordained that I should go all the way to USA to obtain the recommendation a letter of recommendation from a world renowned authority with a large mind and broad outlook who could appreciate my worth. Dr. Quilligan was largely instrumental in my appointment.

I had sent in my application for the post of Assistant Honorary with a covering letter stating that since I had worked with all the Honorary Doctors on the interviewing board, I requested that my application be considered in absentia. On the day of the interview, before starting the interviews, Dr. K.M. Masani read out the letter written by Dr. Quilligan. The strong recommendation that he made turned the tide in my favour (In India, we still stand  in awe of the white man). This letter made the day. In the history of Wadia Hospital, no one has ever been appointed without an interview (God’s blessing. He works in many ways). I joined the staff of N. Wadia Maternity Hospital in Nov. 1964.

In the year 1967 I got married to Dr. Sindhu (nee Kazi) a pediatrician attached as Honorary Consultant to G.T. Hospital and later to the St. George’s Hospital – an Affiliate of the Grant Medical College. She devoted herself to her work for almost ten years before taking over the administrative responsibility of managing our private nursing home and a busy pediatric practice. My elder son Gaurang qualified as a gynecologist from KEM Hospital, served as a lecturer for about a year, thereafter he proceeded to USA. He completed his training at the Yale Medical School, specialized in Endocrinology and Infertility and is presently a consultant in Reproductive Biology (IVF consultant) at the world renowned Mayo Clinic. My younger son Ameet specialized in pediatrics. He was trained in India, Australia and USA. He specialized in pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine and is presently a consultant on the staff of the University Hospital at Salt Lake City (Utah) in USA. 

In the year 1966, Dr. Ajit Mehta invited me to join the Bombay Obstetric & Gynaecological Society as “Clinical Secretary”. After serving in this capacity, I left the managing committee for a few years, as I had set-up my own nursing home at Juhu in 1969. After 4 more years, I rejoined the managing committee. eight years later, the post of second Vice President fell vacant. I requested for promotion to the post. However many senior members wished to promote Dr. Sathe for the job as he was senior to me by age, however, as Dr. Sathe had been a member of the society for only three years, whereas I had been a member of the society for over two decades. I therefore pressed for my claim. The senior members were not willing to yield; I had no choice but to contest an election to claim the post. This was the first time that an election was held for the posts of the managing committee of the Bombay Society. The results proved that our stand was correct. Dr. N.D. Motashaw was then elected as the president and I was elected as second vice-president of the Society. A new constitution was formulated during the tenure of Dr. Motashaw, since then many aspiring members have been elected and have been given the opportunity to serve the society. The Mumbai Obstetric Society has contributed immensely to raising the standard of care and practice. Many of its members have served as presidents of FOGSI.

During the course of three decades that I served as teacher at the Wadia Hospital, I enjoyed interacting with the bright young students and resident doctors in training. Some of them became close friends, From 1979 onwards, one interne every year joined me for training in my private nursing home – I am proud to mention that Dr. Pravin Mhatre graduated in MD with distinction, he joined the teaching staff of Wadia Hospital. He perfected the technique of ‘Ovarian transplant’ in cases of Turner ’s syndrome suffering from premature ovarian failure. He was invited to the FIGO conference in Chile to present his work. Dr. Shyam Desai passed his MBBS examination with distinction. He too joined Wadia Hospital as honorary teacher, was elected president of Mumbai obstetric Society (MOGS) and later to FOGSI, Dr. Ajit Virkud, also a teacher in a hospital associated with KEM Hospital excelled as a teacher, and published many books on the subject. Dr. Mohan Chandavarkar was appointed as Honorary Professor at the Rajeev Gandhi Medical College at Thane; he made a name for himself as a teacher, and has earned a reputation as a Rotarian. Dr. Amarnath Bhide has made a name for himself as an expert in Foetal-Maternal Medicine. He is presently a consultant at St. George’s Hospital in London. He has co-edited the Indian edition of the popular text book on High Risk Pregnancy and Labour by Dr. Fernando Arias. Many others have been closely associated with me over the years.

From 1983 onwards, Dr. Shyam Desai, Dr. Murari Nanavati and later Dr. Ameet Patki and Dr. Jesse Levi joined me in practice for a few years, until they established their own independent practices. Dr. Shyam Desai still continues to look after the practice.

In the year 1985, the publication house of Churchill Livingstone invited me along with Dr. V. Padubidri (New Delhi) to edit the 10th. Edition of their popular publication of Shaw’s Text Book of Gynaecology, and to bring it in line with Indian practices. We have successfully edited this book which is presently in its 15th edition. Thereafter, I was invited along with Prof. Sudeep Chakraborty (Kolkata) to Edit Holland and Brew’s Manual of Obstetrics, This book has also gone through three editions. Elsevier Publishers have taken over these publications. The British India Publishers invited me along with Dr. Ameet Patki to edit the book entitled, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and along with Dr. Shyam Desai, we published a series of 6 issues annually entitled Selected Topics in Obstetrics & Gynaecology. This gave me an opportunity to encourage young and upcoming gynecologists from all parts of the country to contribute articles towards the publication. Many younger and promising gynecologists were inspired to join the Indian College of FOGSI as fellows and members. I have also published other books on the subject, contributed articles to journals and served on the Editorial board of the J. Obstetrics and Gynaecology for almost a decade.

In the year 1982, I was elected to the post of Vice-President of FOGSI. In the year 1983, I was appointed as Chairman of the “MTP Committee” of FOGSI. I had the good fortune to conduct about 40 workshops in many centers all over the country. This opportunity enabled me to travel, and to get acquainted with the prevailing practices in the country and promote safe MTP practices. I thus acquired a vast circle of friends that helped me to reach the goal of President of FOGSI in the year 1986. I along with Dr. Prashant Nanavati, published the first FOGSI publication entitled “Manual of MTP Practices” the proceeds from the sales of this book went to the MTP Committee. I am proud to say that this committee has continued to provide yeoman services to the organization, and it is flush with funds.

In the year 1987, I was installed as President of FOGSI at Jaipur. I took this opportunity to widen the scope of participation by FOGSI members. I had the pleasure of nominating as committee chairpersons - Prof. Rohit Bhatt of Baroda (Safe Motherhood Committee) and Prof. Gyan Dhall of Chandigarh (Medical Education Committee), On this occasion I created four new committees and appointed new chairmanships to  – Prof. Shirish Sheth of Bombay (Endoscopy committee), Prof. Kamal Bakshi of New Delhi (Gyne Endocrinology Committee) Prof. R. Rajan of Kottayam (Infertility Committee) and Dr. Mahendra Patel of Bombay (Medicolegal and Ethics Committee).  During the year, several workshops, seminars and CME activities were held in many parts of the country. Thus propagation of knowledge was given a great deal of emphasis. In early December 1987, unfortunately, our president-elect Prof. B.C. Lahiri passed away just a few days prior to the AICOG in Mysore. Hence the responsibility of presiding over 28th AICOG at Mysore fell on my shoulders. Having appreciated the work put in by the newly elected chairpersons, I further enlarged the scope of FOGSI activities by appointing new chairpersons as follows-Prof. K.M. Gun of Kolkata ( Perinatal Committee), Prof. Usha Krishna of Bombay (Adolescent Health Committee), Prof. Biman Chakraborty of Kolkata (MTP Committee), Prof. .A.K. Sarkar of Kolkata (Rural Obstetric Committee), Prof. Achyut Umranikar of Pune (Medical Disorders Committee) and Prof. C.B. Purandare of Bombay (Public Awareness Committee). Thus I opened up the FOGSI to many enthusiastic members to contribute towards the advancement of FOGSI. During my farewell address I announced the sum of Rs.25,000/- as my donation to FOGSI to initiate a FOGSI Publication fund – It was decided to publish a basic text book entitled Current Practice of Obstetrics & Gynaecology based on prevailing practices in India. This book was edited by Dr. N.N. Roychowdhury (Imm. Past President FOGSI), Dr. S.N. Daftary (President in the chair) and Dr. S. Dasgupta (President Elect). This book set the trend for FOGSI publications. Since then two important FOGSI publications entitled Principles and Practice of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for postgraduates have followed, the first edition edited by Dr. Usha Saraiya, Dr. Kamini Rau and Dr Alokendu Chatterjee, and the subsequent edition edited by Dr. Pankaj Desai, Dr. Narendra Malhotra and Dr. Duru Shah. Over the years the FOGSI Publication fund has enhanced handsomely.  FOGSI publications have proliferated; they carry the latest advances in our speciality and provide timely updates to our members.

Many educational activities, publications and grass-roots activities have been achieved over the years. During my presidency, I traveled to many member societies. I met many eminent colleagues – Dr. Achyut Umranikar, Dr. Subhash Nargolkar, Dr. Sanjay Gupte and others in Pune, and in Gujarat, I came to know well my colleagues - Dr. Narayanbhai Patel, Dr. Ramanbhai Patel, Dr. Vilasben Mehta, Dr. R. Bankar, Dr. Ajit Raval, Dr. Chaitanya Nagori, Dr.Pravin Patel, Dr. Atul Munshi, Dr. Parul Kotdawala, Dr. Bhargave Patel, Dr. Behram Anklesaria, Dr. Rajesh Soneji, Dr. Pankaj Desai, Dr. Nandita Maitra, Dr. Mayaben Hazra, Dr. Jyotiben Shah, Dr. Deepak Bhagde and many others who have made a mark on the FOGSI scene. I continued making newer friends in the years to come  – Amongst these I would like to mention Dr. Prashant Acharya, Dr. Alpesh Gandhi, Dr.Jignesh Shah, Dr. Pragnesh Shah, Dr. Sunil Shah, Dr. Chirag Amin, Dr. Kanti Bansal and many more. Dr. Chaitanya Shembekar (Nagpur), Dr. Arun Arora (Jammu), Dr. Mukesh Rathi (Akola), Dr. Manish Pandya (Surendranagar), Drs. Charu Joshi, Dr. Parag Biniwale, Dr. Dilpi Walke Dr. Harshad Parasnis and Dr. Kiran Kurtkoti from Pune. All these young members have been making a mark on the national scene. For want of space I have not mentioned many names of kind colleagues who have befriended me and helped me in my projects

In 1988, I was appointed Dean at the N. Wadia Maternity Hospital. We started speciality OPD services for Infertility, Colposcopy and cancer screening. We expanded facilities for Operative Endoscopy and Ultrasonography. During my tenure, we conducted training programmes in Endoscopy and Ultrasonography and organized workshops on Colposcopy (Dr. Manju Mataliya) and Infertility (Dr. Mehroo Hansotia). I retired in 1993, and was appointed Medical Advisor (education) to spread medical education in other parts of the country. Along with the staff members of Wadia Hospital, We organized CME activities in more than forty towns spread all over the country. This activity helped us to spread the name of our institute all over the country. I am proud to state that I was successful in initiating the Nowrosjee.Wadia Maternity Hospital Alumni Association.

I have had the honour of being invited to deliver many orations, guest lectures and participate in several academic fora and conferences. However amongst the memorable events I particularly remember include the invitation (1990) to deliver the FOGSI oration at the AICOG (Nagpur). I was happy to address the delegates on the subject of Medical Education. Another memorable event is the occasion when I addressed the Ahmedabad Society on the Subject of Programmed Labour, when the organizers had to change the venue because the registered delegates far exceeded their expectations. This theme has attracted many obstetricians, and many have adopted the protocol. Several papers have been published on the subject, many corporate hospitals have offered it as a service. However, to me the crowning glory was – the reports by various colleagues who adopted this protocol and reported favourably on its implementation. I am indebted to Dr. Shyam Desai, President – FOGSI (2005) for adopting the theme of “Optimizing Labour and Delivery” during his year of presidency. Dr. Hema Divakar, Dr. Uday Thanawalla, Dr. Amar Bhide, Dr. Jesse Levi and Dr. Shankar Bijapur were of great assistance in propagating the message through conduct of live workshops.. Many Obstetricians all over the country adopted the protocol. The following list of opinions from a few of them illustrates this fact of acceptance of the protocol of - Programmed Labor For Optimizing Labor And Delivery - Abstract

Programmed Labor Protocol, Pain Relief, Safe Delivery By

Veronica Irene Yuel, Vaneet Kaur, Dilpreet Kaur

Christian Medical College & Hospital – Ludhiana (Punjab)

To evaluate the efficacy of Programmed Labor protocol in providing shorter, safer and a relatively pain free delivery a controlled clinical study was conducted in Obstetrics & Gynecology Dept of Christian Medical College & Hospital, Ludhiana. The study revealed that - There was marked shortening of all the stages of labor. Average blood loss was comparatively less in the study group.70% of women in the study group had significant pain relief. Majority of women in the study group delivered vaginally. 2 (6.7%) babies born to these mothers had an Apgar Score < 7 but there was no perinatal mortality. Programmed labor protocol can safely lead to shorter labors and significant pain relief without any major increase in maternal or neonatal morbidity.


A Clinical Study of Programmed Labour and its outcome by Dr. Paulami Guha

Dept. of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Medical College and Eden Hospital, Kolkatta.

Conclusion : Active management of labour with oxytocin, amniotomy and spasmolytic and labor analgesia with tramadol,diazepam & pentazocine is safe, convenient and acceptable. Marked labor analgesia. There is marked reduction of the total duration of labor. Marked reduction in LSCS rate. Minimum side effects on mother. No affection of apgar score of fetus, it is a simple & inexpensive method which does not require very trained personnel & The child birth becomes a joyous event for the mother.


Prof Sarla Malhotra, Prof. Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at PGI

speaking at the annual conference of the Northern Indian Society of Gynaecologists Society of India at PGI, stated that the data collected clearly indicates that as compared to a programmed labour, the morbidity rate in emergency deliveries taking place at night was far more,” (Programmed deliveries recommended - Tribune News Service)


Dr.C.S avithri delivered the Dr. N. Subhadhra Devi memorial oration (Guntur Society) on 19th August 2007. Her message was loud and clear: “Save the woman from the pain of labour and also avoid possible errors by planning and practicing programmed labour. This method improves obstetric outcome.  


Conclusion: “Optimizing Labor Protocol” or “Programmed Labor Protocol” leads to shorter labors; analgesia is quite effective and side effects of drugs are minimal and safe for the fetus as well; labor is cherished with pleasure and childbirth becomes a joyous event for the mother. Clinicians in a private maternity set up can safely use it.


Many institutions have incorporated this protocol in their practices. With advent of newer drugs, suitable modifications are made, however the principle of using a combination of drugs to obtain enhanced synergistic effects and minimizing side-effects has been now widely accepted. As long as epidural anesthesia is not universally available to all women – the alternative of Programmed Labour to mitigate pain and provide a means to safe delivery should be offered to our mothers.


I am proud to mention that I was instrumental in helping the formation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies at Vashi (Navi Mumbai) and Palghar, these have been affiliated to FOGSI. Two new townships at Vasai and Surendranagar are in the process of forming their societies. Dr. Uday Thanawalla and Dr. Mandakini Parihar of the Vashi Society of this newly formed societies have already made a mark by serving the FOGSI as Hon. Joint Secretaries, and Dr. Parihar has been elected to the post of Vice=President of FOGSI


I have been the recipient of several awards, However, the FOGSI Lifetime Achievement Award, The Lifetime Achievement Award by the Navi Mumbai Society and the recognition as Mentor by The Ahmedabad Obstetricians & Gynecologists mean a great deal to me. The honour of a Lifetime Acievement Award  conferred by the Rotarians ( a public service organization) speaks of the appreciation by the community.


After completing 50 years in practice, and four decades of running a private nursing home, I decided to call it a day. At the age of 75 completed years, I have now retired from active clinical practice. Dr. Shyam Desai continues to run the practice. We have now added the services of Assisted Reproductive Services at the nursing home. I now find time to participate in social activities, to travel, to continue writing – increasingly on non-medical topics. Some of these stories based on my experiences have been appreciated by Dr. Nozer Sheriar, On his request, these have been put up on the FOGSI website (heart speak). I am happy to state that many colleagues from all over India sent me letters of appreciation – This has been my reward.


I wish to thank Dr. Pankaj Desai for inviting me to share these thoughts with all of you.

I end by wishing all my readers a happy and prosperous New Year 2011.




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