Remembering Kadambini Ganguly: Born in a Brahmo family in Chandsi, in Bengal’s Barisal district (now in Bangladesh) on July 18, 1861 Kadambini Basu along with Chandramukhi Basu, became the first female graduate in India, from Bethune College in Kolkata. Not only that, she was the first female doctor in South Asia to get three bachelor’s degrees in medicine.
Beginning of Kadambini’s study
Her father Braja Kishore Basu was the headmaster of Bhagalpur school and very enthusiastic about Brahman and women’s education and founded an organization called ‘Bhagalpur Mahila Samiti’ for women’s liberation in 1863, the first of its kind women’s organisation in India. He brought his daughter from Bhagalpur to Calcutta for higher studies. The society of that time did not look favorably on women’s education at all.
The honor of graduating during the British Raj
Kadambini was admitted to the Banga Mahila Vidyalaya in Calcutta later merged with the Bethune School. And from there she passed the entrance exam for the University of Calcutta and created history becoming the first woman to pass the test as early as 1878. She studied science there and graduated along with Chandramukhi Basu in 1883. These two accomplished women were the first Indian women to achieve the rare honor of graduating during British India.
Kadambini’s fight with society to study medicine
After graduation, Kadambini decided to study medicine. It didn’t take long for that news to spread. The aristocratic society of Calcutta began to mock her in various ways. So that she could not study medicine, there were many misdeeds for her. But Kadambini was not the girl to leave and ignoring the bloody eyes of society, she was admitted to the medical college in 1884. Then not only the conservative society but also the teaching staff of the medical college started opposing her.
Kadambini passed her medical examination and became the first Indian women physician eligible to practice western medicine alongside Anandi Gopal Joshi in 1886. Kadambini travelled to England for further study in 1893 and earned a ‘triple diploma’ in a short time, LRCP (Edinburgh), LRCS (Glasgow), and GFPS (Dublin). She Was the first female physician in India to show the rare skill of obtaining multiple foreign degrees in medicine.
Returning from Britain, this wise and fearless woman focused on public service. She used to rush to the villages for treatment. She also joined politics. She joined the Indian National Congress in 1899 as one of the first female delegates. In 1906 she organized the Women’s Conference in Calcutta. After the partition of Bengal, she continued the movement for the participation of Calcutta Medical Women as students.
An inspiration to other women at the time
Kadambini’s efforts as an independent physician opened a new direction for women’s education, employment, and self-establishment throughout Asia. Seeing her, several women came forward. Although the path was not easy. But gradually the stagnation of many years began to break.
Kadambini played an important role in changing the society
She was the first woman to face strong obstacles and adversity for her contemporary work. She had to face a lot of obstacles before she was established as an independent professional. The path was not easy. Yet, inspired by her husband and father, she played a major role in changing the social status of women throughout South Asia.
11 days before joining Calcutta Medical College, Kadambini tied a knot with Dwarkanath Ganguly in 1883. She was a mother of eight children. She died on 7th October 1923. Until her last breath, she didn’t turn down any medical calls, a few minutes after she returned from undergoing some emergency operations she left the world.
TV serials based on Kadambini’s life
Serval Bengali serials have been telecasts based on her life, Prothoma Kadambini is currently being telecast on Star Jalsha since March 2020, and Kadambini which was telecast on Zee Bangla in 2019
Google honoured Kadambini
On Kadambini Ganguly’s 160th birth anniversary this year, Google honoured India’s first female doctor with a doodle.