Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

An Indian Colonel in Roumania

During my recent visit to Roumania I came across in Bucharest a very interesting personality. He is Dr Narsingh-Mulgund, a Lt.-Col. in the medical department of the Roumanian army. I became so interested in him that I obtained from him the particulars of his early life which I am now writing for the information of my countrymen.

A Maharashtrian by birth, his home was in Taluka Bhuvanagir, sixty miles from Hyderabad city in Deccan. He had his early education in Bombay and after matriculating, he went over to Calcutta.

In Calcutta he joined the Scottish Churches College and studied for the F. A. Examination. Simultaneously, he studied at the National Medical College of Dr SK Mullick. Among the teachers at the latter College were Dr SK Mullick, Dr YM Bose, Dr BC Ghosh and Dr MD Das. He duly passed the F.A. Examination, and the M. C. P. S. Examination from the National Medical College. In 1912, he went over to London and took the M.R.C.S. Diploma.

About this time the Turko-Balkan War broke out and Dr Mulgund volunteered for service in the Red Crescent Mission in Turkey. There were two medical missions, one led by Dr Ansari, and the other by Dr Abdul Hossain, and Dr Mulgund joined the latter. He worked for six months as a surgeon with the Turkish army at Shatalja. There he got the Order of Commander of Majidia from the Turkish Government. In the Turko-Balkan War Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria fought against Turkey. This war soon came to an end, but a fresh war broke out in which Serbia and Greece attacked Bulgaria. Roumania also joined in the fray. Since Bulgaria had grabbed a lot of territory from Turkey during the Turko-Balkan War, Turkey took this opportunity of regaining some of her lost territories. When Roumania declared war against Bulgaria, the mission went over to Roumania.

In Roumania Dr Mulgund worked in Zimnica, where there was a field-hospital. Cholera then broke out in the Roumanian army and the medical mission proved to be of great assistance. As a reward for his services, Dr Mulgund got the Order of Military Virtue from the Roumanian Government. This was in August, 1913. At the end of the Second Balkan War, the other members of the medical mission returned to India, but Dr Mulgund stayed on. He felt a strong impulse to carve out for himself a career in Roumania.

But who would help him was the problem. Fortunately, about this time Dr Lupu, a well-known politician, and Professor Stanculeanu took a fancy for him. His future career depended on his becoming a naturalised subject. With the help of his two friends and through the strength of his war services, he was able to become a naturalised subject long before the usual term. Soon after this he obtained a job as an assistant in the Eye-clinic, attached to the University Hospital. He then passed the State Examination in Roumania. After passing his examination he was able to obtain an appointment as a Sub-lieutenant in the medical department of the Roumanian army.

This was in April, 1915. On August 15, 1916 Roumania declared war against Germany. In 1917, Dr Mulgund became a Lieutenant and in 1918 a Captain. In 1926, he became a Major and in May, 1934 a few days before I came to Bucharest, he became a Lt.-Colonel.

Dr Mulgund, or rather Lt.-Col. Mulgund, is one of the best Eye-specialists in Roumania. From 1919 to 1922 he was Chief of the Eye-Hospital in Oradia and from 1922 to 1928 he was an Eye-specialist, attached to the military hospital in Bucharest. During my stay in Bucharest he was asked by the War Minister to open a new Eye Hospital for the benefit of the army.

Lt.-Col. Mulgund married a Roumanian lady, and they have two children, both of them girls. They are a happy family. He is quite well known in Bucharest and even before I met him I came to hear of him from several Roumanian friends. During my stay at Bucharest I had the pleasure of spending much of my time with him. From the way he used to be accosted by the Roumanian gentry and by military officers whenever we went out together, one could see, that he was not only well-known there, but much esteemed also.

Though he has been away from India, and though he is now a Roumanian subject, he has not forgotten his own language. Besides Marathi, he can speak Hindi fairly well and still retains a fair knowledge of Sanskrit. He is very fond of quoting Sanskrit maxims and verses from the Gita. It was a very great pleasure and honour to meet Lt.-Col. Mulgund in Bucharest. And I have no doubt that those of my countrymen who read this, will be equally pleased and interested. Lt.-Col. Mulgund lives at Strada Canzasi 14, Bucharest.