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About Dr.Banoo Coyaji
 
 
     
  Dr. Banoo Coyaji (1917-2004)  
     
  "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will".  
 
Mahatma Gandhi
 
     
  A 55-year journey  
     
 

In 1940 an amazing career began. Banoo Coyaji (then Kapadia) graduated from the Grant Medical College and married Jehangir Coyaji, an electrical engineer. Following a 1-½ year residency in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Banoobai (that's how she was known) settled in Pune and assisted her brother-in-law, the famous Dr. Edulji Coyaji, in his general practice. In April 1944, Sardar Moodliar approached Dr. Edulji for a locum doctor for the 40-bedded maternity hospital, the KEM Hospital. Dr. Edulji sent his 27-year-old sister-in-law. Six months later it became a permanent job and Banoobai moved into the KEM with her husband and son, as Chief Medical Officer. Thus began a 55-year long career that transformed both the young doctor and the small hospital. In 1945 Banoobai completed her MD in Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

Dr.Banoo Coyaji   
 
     
 

Under her stewardship the hospital grew from 40 beds in 1944 to 550 beds in 1999. When any new project was presented to Banoobai she always had a positive approach, a "Can do", "Lets try it" attitude. For 55 years she remained at the helm, watching her beloved KEM grow, working always to collect funds. Over the years the KEM and Banoobai became inseparable in people's minds.

 
     
  The woman herself  
     
 

All Banoobai's achievements and enthusiasms were crowned with success. She received many awards and acclamations, too numerous to be listed. The Government of India awarded her a Padma Bhushan and in 1993 she received the prestigious Magsaysay Award.

 
     
 

She held many prominent posts. For 6 years, she was a member of the Scientific and Technical Group in Human Reproduction, WHO, Women's Health and Development; and Health, Manpower and Development at WHO. She was a Consultant to the Government of Maharashtra, the Government of India, the World Bank, Ford Foundation, UNFPA and many other bodies of national and international importance. She was a member of the Management Council as well as Professor Emeritus, Pune University.

 
     
 

The success story of Dr.Banoo Coyaji has often obliterated Banoo Coyaji the human being. In later years people deified her. She was a human being with human frailties that did not detract from her greatness, but actually made her more lovable.

 
     
 

Born on September 7, 1917, she was the only child of Bapaimai and Pestonji Kapadia. Pestonji was a civil engineer and architect by training and a well known Gujarati poet, writer and musician. From him, Banoobai got her extrovert and ambitious nature. From her kind, gentle mother she got her strength of mind and her sense of right and wrong. She grew up in Bhawani Peth in the home of her maternal grandparents. Her grandmother was a strict disciplinarian. The greatest influence on her was of her idol and mentor Dr.Edulji Coyaji. All these influences contributed to her character - goal oriented, hardworking, dedicated and always punctual.

 
     
 

Banoobai worked long hours but she and her husband, Jehangir, loved to party through the night. They were both accomplished ballroom dancers and were amused by 'modern' dancing, which they thought 'had no grace'. All her life Banoobai ate like a sparrow - she disliked all vegetables - but she enjoyed a drink before dinner. She was a great raconteur and had a terrific sense of humour. She was feminine, in that she enjoyed dressing up and was always particular about her appearance. She read widely but few people knew that she enjoyed reading Mills and Boon romances and Sunday mornings always found her immersed in a crossword. However, she was the ultimate extrovert. She always wanted people around her. She was always on the go. Even when 'relaxing' she exhausted everyone. She loved to say, "It is better to wear out than to rust out".

 
     
 
 
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