Bardhanpara, East Bengal, India — 1890-1965
Dr. Rafiuddin Ahmed was born on December 24, 1890, in Bardhanpara, East Bengal, India. He graduated from Aligarh University in 1908. By the next year, he left for the United States by working his passage over.He enrolled in the University of Iowa School of Dentistry, earning his dental degree in 1915. Dr. Ahmed then worked in the Forsyth Dental Infirmary for Children in Boston, Massachusetts, until 1918. In 1919, he returned to India to open a dental practice in Calcutta.
In 1920, Dr. Ahmed founded the First Dental College of India, which was financed by starting the New York Soda Fountain in Calcutta. Dr. Ahmed published the First Student’s Handbook on Operative Dentistry in 1928.
The First Dental College of India affiliated with the State Medical Facility in 1936, and then with the University of Calcutta in 1949. In that same year, Dr. Ahmed donated his First Dental College of India to the West Bengal government. Dr. Ahmed served as the Principal of the College from 1920 to 1950.
Dr. Ahmed’s philosophy was: ‘‘Education is the responsibility of the State; but if no one is willing to carry the cross, I will, for as long as I can.’’
In 1925, Dr. Ahmed established the Bengal Dental Association, which became the forerunner for the Indian Dental Association (which he also organized in 1928). He served three terms as President of the Indian Dental Association from 1945 to 1948.
He also established the Indian Dental Journal in 1925 and was its Editor until 1946. He also served on the Editorial Boards for the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association, the PFA’s Dental World/Dental Survey, and other publications.
Dr. Ahmed helped to form the Bengal Dentists Act in 1939. This was the first dental governmental regulation in India and it became the model for the Indian Dental Act passed in 1948. Dr. R. Ahmed was the first elected President of the India Dental Council, serving from 1954 to 1958.
Dr. Ahmed was awarded a Fellowship in the International College of Dentists in 1947 and Fellowships in the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Pierre Fauchard Academy in 1949. In 1964, the Indian government awarded him the Padma Bhushan, a rare and coveted honor never before presented to a dentist. Dr. Ahmed was the first Indian to have achieved such status.
Dr. Ahmed served as a Councillor and Alderman of the Calcutta Corporation from 1932 to 1944. In 1950, he became a Minister in the West Bengal government and was supervisor for the Departments of Agriculture, Community Development, Co-operation, Relief, and Rehabilitation until 1962.
Dr. Ahmed earned many honors and memorial tributes, of which inscription on the ICD Memorial Roll in 1965 was a particularly special tribute. The Indian Dental Association recognized his many contributions to Indian dentistry by establishing the Dr. R. Ahmed Memorial Oration at the 1977 Annual Indian Dental Conference. The Pierre Fauchard Academy dedicated its 1987 quarterly PFA Journal in Dr. Ahmed’s memory, and the University of Iowa School of Dentistry Alumni Association presented their First Distinguished International Alumnus Award to him in 1989.
Today, Dr. R. Ahmed is remembered as the Nestor and Dean of Dentistry, Dental Education, and the Dental Profession in India. He died on January 18, 1965.