TRIBUTES poured in for Kadambini Ganguly, one of India’s first two women doctors on Sunday, her 160th birth anniversary. Along with Anandi Joshi, Ganguly became the first woman in colonial India to study medicine and earn a degree in 1886. While Joshi studied at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in the US, Ganguly pursued western medicine at Calcutta Medical College (CMC). Born Kadambini Bose in Bhagalpur, she was the daughter of well-known Brahmo Samaj reformer Braja Kishore Basu and was deeply influenced by the ongoing Bengal renaissance. She fought a long battle to be admitted to the Calcutta Medical College before qualifying as a practicing doctor, after becoming along with Chandramukhi Basu, one of Calcutta University’s first women graduates. Among others, Google Doodle honoured the country’s first woman doctor with a special graphic on her.
The doodle, a portrait of Ganguly with the image of the main building of Calcutta Medical College, now officially called the Kolkata Medical College and Hospital in the background, has been designed by Bengaluru-based artist Oddrija, and it was widely shared across the country. Politicians and common people from all walks of life hailed Ganguly as a champion of womens’ rights in India. After her marriage with Brahmo reformer Dwarkanath Ganguly, the couple battled CMCs prohibition on women studying there, and Kadambini joined the medical college on June 23, 1883 despite strong criticism from the colonial society. She was awarded the Graduate of Medical College of Bengal (GMCB) degree in 1886, which even attracted the attention of Florence Nightingale who enquired about Ganguly from a friend in a letter in 1888. Ganguly later studied in Britain.