In a country where accessible healthcare to everyone is still a gaping question, the efforts of doctors using their expertise for the benefit of society are indeed commendable. July 1st every year is celebrated as Doctors’ Day in India. While tremendous progress had been made by physicians in ancient India, the prevailing system of Western medicine was able to provide cures for many ailments which pestered large populations of the country. We bring to you six legendary physicians who are revered throughout the medical community and beyond for their accomplishments:
1. Bidhan Chandra Roy (1882-1962)
Also the second Chief Minister of West Bengal, Bidhan Chandra Roy, MRCP, FRCS was not only a renowned physician but also a freedom fighter. Dr Roy believed that the nation could be served effectively when the youth was committed to the upliftment of society. It is in honour of this physician that Doctors’ Day is celebrated in India on his birth anniversary.
2. Bhau Daji Lad (1822-1874)
One of the first graduates of the Grant Government Medical College, Mumbai, Bhau Daji Lad was a successful physician who also studied ancient Sanskrit texts along with Western medicine to work on cures for various prevailing ailments. He was renowned not only as a doctor but also as an antiquarian, whose enthusiasm for antiquities led to the Victoria and Albert Museum in Mumbai being renamed as the Bhau Daji Lad Museum.
3. Dwarkanath Kotnis (1910-1942)
The face of Sino-Indian friendship pre-Independence, Dr Kotnis was known for his service to Chinese troops during the second Sino-Japanese war in 1938. One in a team of five doctors, Dr Kotnis is still held in high esteem in China for his assistance to the country during a crisis. He was immortalised in the V. Shantaram film Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946).
4. Anandibai Joshi (1865-1887)
Anandibai Joshi was the first female physician in India. She graduated from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, along with another Indian physician, Kadambini Ganguly. The death of her first child because of lack of medical care moved her to take up the study of medicine, and on completion of her studies, she was appointed as physician-in-charge of the women’s ward in the Albert Edward Hospital, Kolhapur.
5. Upendranath Brahmachari (1873-1946)
One of the pioneers of specific medicine in India, U.N. Brahmachari is most famous for the development of a specific cure for Kala Azar, a disease which would otherwise claim millions. His synthesis of Urea stibamine was a milestone in the field of contemporary medicine which had, until that point, mainly relied on palliative cures, that is, focussing on relieving the distress rather than attacking the root cause of the disease.
6. Madhusudan Gupta (1800-1856)
Madhusudan Gupta is the first Indian physician trained in Western medicine, to carry out a dissection of the human body. Assisted by students from the Calcutta Medical College, his act was deemed both revolutionary and controversial, as rumours of ‘cutting up a child’ caused considerable outrage. Gupta however, went ahead with his experiment which paved the way for a better understanding of human anatomy for contemporary Indian doctors.
The enigma of the human body continues and doctors face the daunting task of dealing with, and resolving its many mysteries everyday. Hold the bad handwriting and money drain jokes for today and tag your doctor friends here!
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Title image: thequin