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Medical Encounters in

British India
by Deepak Kumar and R.Basu


Probing History of
Medicine and Public Health
in India
Deepak Kumar

Anatomical Knowledge and

East-West Exchange
Jayanta Bhattacharya

Medicine in Pre Colonial Era

Canonical texts like Samhitas of Charak and Sushruta to guide. Knowlegde
advanced through commentaries and even replications. No anatomical or
surgical illustrations.
Dissection was taboo.
Knowledge became secretive, restricted to ones own sons or Brahmanas.
Ex: Todarananda( 16th century encyclopaedia ) says that rasavidya
(alchemy) is to be kept as secret as mothers genitals.
Rogarogavada (Debate on Illness and Health) by Viresvara (1669)
systematically refutes the principal theory of Ayurveda. Gives examples to
show that the central doctrine of Humoral imbalance is wrong. Proposed
that diseases come and go for no apparent reason, Just like the rising and
setting of stars.

Hybrid of Muslim-Hindu system known as Tibb. From Islam, the concept of
arka (distillation).
Several Sanskrit medical texts were translated to Arabic and Persian. Vice
versa is rare.
Hakim Sharif Khan, a great physician wrote ten important texts on Ayurvedic
herbs and unani medicine.
Unani practitioners introduced concept of hospitals( bimaristans). In 1595,
Quli Shah built Dar-us-Shifa (House of Cures) in Hyderabad. During
Muhammad Shahs (1719-48) reign in Delhi he constructed a large hospital
whose annual expenditure was more than Rs. 300,000.
Some works ahead of their time; Nurul Haqs Ainul-Hayat (1691) is a rare
Persian text on Plague and Pandit Mahadevas Rajsimhasudhasindhu (1787)
refers to cowpox and inoculation.

The Colonial Watershed

Arnold : Role of physicians as colonial, rather than simply medical

Why ? : Health of British soldiers and colonial administrators of primary importance.
Need to know Topography and diseases in India & How these factors affect the body
They were inclined to borrow but could not create a dialogue between the two
schools of thought
Both humoral. But, west moved on to a chemical and mechanical perspective. Asia
remained faithful to what it had been doing for ages.

1. Emphasis on the cause of the
disease, the latter on nidana
2. Forced to take cognizance of
indigenous drugs
3. Difference in conceptualization
of body : Diseased Body
4. Preferred Bloodletting

1. Emphasis on power of
resistance of human body
2. Vaidyas took to anatomy, ready
delivery of medicine, quick
relief etc.
3. Ayurvedic perspective : Body in
4. Preferred urine analysis and
urine therapy

From the Indian point of view, mid 19th century was a period of fresh
opportunities and acquiring new knowledge.

Syncretism, not revivalism was the agenda.

Some British officials wanted the government to attempt a fusion of both
exotic principles and local practices, European theory, and Indian experience
and thereby revive, invigorate, enlighten, and liberalize the native medical
profession in the mofussil.
Some Examples :
1. Soorjo Goodeve Chuckerbutty
(. ) Supported vernacular medium and criticized Calcutta university for
representing only European opinion and interests and ignoring the
national element.

2. Raja Serfoji
Last Maratha ruler of Tanjore : Surrendered power to the British and spent
time in pursuit of knowledge.
Opened the Dhanvantri Mahal (abode of Dhanvantri, God of Medicine) for
research in medical sciences . Assembled physicians from Ayurvedic, Yunani,
Siddha and western systems. Result of interactions and investigations
compiled in Sarabendra Vaidya Muraiga.
Maintained a set of Opthalmic case sheets with authentic pictures of the
eye and its defects for research purposes. Early example of Methodical
Clinical research under native patronage.
3. Bal Gangadhar Jambhekar
First Indian to teach mathematics at the Elphinstone College in Bombay.
Wanted native practitioners to improve by studying Anatomy from the
natural subject even though touching a dead body was taboo at that time.
Felt ordinary Vaidyas and Hakims would respond better than more learned
practitioners and wanted to enable dissemination of medical knowledge to
them in local languages. ( part of opinion given in 1837 to the British who
were setting up med school in Bombay)

Westerners were averse to the oriental process not substance.

Advent of Dissection
Dissection is necessary to establish relationship between symptoms manifested
externally during life and state of diseased internal organs examined after death.
Curtis: The patient dies. The body is permitted to be opened and this is supposed
to explain everything, Much experience does it require and many dissections of
similar cases, to enable us to judge and distinguish accurately between the causes
and effects of diseases and even between the effects of the disease and the effects
of death.
New paradigm of Organ localization of disease was a definite disjuncture from
humoral pathology, but still carried traces of humoralism.
Dr. Paisley : In a climate where all capital disorders arise from putrid bile, or
obstructions, nothing must be shut up. (Reference to bile).

Consequences of Dissection
Indian body image demystified. No more a divine body. Provided concrete
ground for organ localization of disease. Body is no longer merely a bodily frame
through which saps, humors and fluid flow. 3 dimensional reality.
Precise anatomical knowledge yielded excellent surgical results. Better cause effect
Great social significance.
Radhakanta Deb, an orthodox Hindu : I shall introduce and recommend your
advice and medicine both here and in the interior. The human lives which will be
saved will , I trust, be an ample reward for the trouble that you have taken.
b. Rammohan Roy to Dr. Patterson of Edinburgh : Sent set of 10 Hindu skulls and
said he is willing to send more of any particular type that they make require for
their research and in any numbers.
Indian experiences related to medicine, surgery, pathology and pharmacology
found their applications in Britain and other colonies. Ex : Maclean - Discovered
rudiments of treatment for intermittent fever in India that he extended to yellow
fever in West Indies.

Scope and Opportunities in India

Some Examples
1776 Charles Maclean : first clinical trial concerning action of mercury upon the
living body in Calcutta General hospital
Duncan Stewart : Nothing more desirable, than that, where the opportunity exists,
( as of Great Indian hospitals where liver infections are so common), an accurate
series of observations should be made, and recorded, of the real or apparent
effects of bile
Lambert : First clinical trial of emetine and bismuth iodide in a series of cases of
Amoebic Dysentery.
Importance of Hospital medicine : paradigmatic shift from Bedside medicine in
Europe. Closing hour of medical medievalism.
Many medical men got significant eminence in Calcutta and to good account at
Dr. Benjamin Guy Babington : 28th president of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical
society of London and First President of the Epidemiological Society : Based on his
study of history of epidemics and large knowledge of cholera acquired in India.

The Indian response

Popular Indigenous practitioners: Gangaprasad Sen and Neelamber Sen
introduced reforms.
Fixed consultation fees
Priced medicine,
Publication of sacred texts
Publicity through advertisements,
Even started the first Ayurvedic Journal in Bengali, Ayurveda Sanjivani
Ayurvedic texts show large number of Sanskrit equivalents for terms borrowed
from Western medicine . Ex : jivanu ( micro organism), samkranti (
transmission of contagious diseases), svasyantra ( the respiratory tract ) etc.
New types of fever : antrikajvana (enteric or typhoid fever) , granthikajvar(
plague), slesmakjvara (infleuenza) etc.
Indicated that certain European practices could be internalized and turned to
the advantage of indigenous medicine.

Indigenous practitioners vehemently denied that their system was
unscientific or irrational. They were willing to adopt the scientific method
in reforming their system but not in changing the fundamentals of the
Dwijendranath Tagore : By the raging light and scorching heat of English
education, orthodoxies are being increasingly banished from the metropolis
to the fringes of villages.
A critical anti-colonial spirit permeated the indigenous response as argued
by Neshat Quasier.
Quote: Knows no method of treatment, but Doctors dared to challenge
Unani. In a closed bottle, a fairy has come full of anger from foreign lands.
The bouquet stolen from the garden of Unani Tibb has been rearranged in a
new fashion.
Sankritik connotations of the terms described in Ayurveda were evacuated
of their meaning and the vacuum filled with modern anatomical meanings.
Context-free, universal logic of modern medicine refigured the contextsensittve character of Ayurveda

Debates on Public Health

Engaged both the official and public mind in India. Debates became more intense in
the wake of cholera and plague epidemics.
Several questions
Imperial Altruism or Colonial Callousness?
Colonial Medical Intervention: Enclavist or can it transcend geo cultural boundaries?
How effective is it? What more can be done?

J.B. Grants definition of Public Health

Science and art of social utilization of scientific knowledge for medical protection by
maintaining health, preventing disease and curing disease through organized
community efforts for :
Hygiene of the environment
Control of community infections
Education of the principles of personal hygiene
Organization of medical and nursing service for the early diagnosis
development of social machinery to ensure a standard of living adequate for
maintenance of health

Pilgrims to Mecca from Egypt and Indonesia were compulsorily vaccinated
against smallpox and cholera. Inoculation of pilgrims going to Prayag Kumbh
was held impractical, inexpedient and even dangerous.
Enlightened native states like Baroda, Mysore and Travancore were more
open to new ideas.
1. Mysore (1930) - Worlds first Birth Control Clinic
2. Bombay (1935) Society for study and promotion of Family Hygiene
3. Even Indian National Congress included studies on population and health in
its planning committee.

Another important perspective

Sanitary engineering evolved to denote environmental health rather than the limited
original concept of plumbing. Included not only water, sewage, refuge but also
ventilation, lighting, safety, housing and town planning.
Medical Intervention is no panacea. Some thought excessive reliance on medical
intervention as one sided and dangerous.
J.D.Megaw : If the public health services were to stamp out the great killing diseases of
India, and nothing was done to increase the production of food or to restrict the
growth of population, the inevitable result would be the replacement of the tragedy of
death from disease by the greater tragedy of death from starvation.
But many thought that the control of disease would raise the standards of life and
induce a decline in fertility rates.
So, J.D.Megaw : A public health policy must be worked out in terms of agricultural and
industrial production, it must look ahead and take into account the maintenance of a
proper relation between the number of people and the available supply of the
necessities of life.
But the colonial government had neither the intention nor the wherewithal.
So what did they do ? : Blame each other !

Bazaar Medicine

Bazaar Medicine
Summary: Impact of colonial medical revolutions on Europe.
Why did medical practices vary across colonies?

Different climatic conditions.

Cheap remedies >> Individualized attention.
Availability issues.
Differences in theories.

Calomel The differences

Calomel Mercurous Chloride
Calomel in Europe
Non-veneral complaints. Eg. Syphilis.
Trust issues.
Calomel in Bristish India
Liver related diseases.
Cheap and locally available purgative.
Mixed with local herbs.

Calomel Initial development

John Wilson and Gilbert Pasley Early pioneers.

Hepatitis in coromandel coast.

Availiable at local 'bazzar'.
Madras Hub for curing liver related problems.

Support by East India Company.

Biliary theory fevers + climatic assumptions.

Other stimulants performed badly. Eg : Castor oil, wine.

Calomel Other stories

Indian Scenario
Conflicting views bewteen John Clark and Dr. Ewart.
Calomel was viewed as pancea for liver related diseases.

Effect on West Indians' Medical practice.

Yellow Fever Similar to Indian fevers.

Indian medical officers.

Finally accepted in Britain

Tropical conditions in low lying areas.

Help from pubilcations.

Dietetics, Mimesis and Alterity

Why so little work on dietetics?

Historical works focus on diseases.

Difficult to document.

Diet and diseases were assumed to be uncorrelated.

Food and Ayurveda

Ayurveda was viewed as 'science of life' and not as a 'medicine


Meant for the literate and elite strata .

Substantial contributions by Charaka and Susruta.

Ayurvedic views

Viewed medicine has means of preserving health.

Complex explantion of the digestive system.

Five fundamental elements.


Emphasised on sleep, food and chaste life.


Encounters with Western Medicine

European interests in 'cooling regimes'.

Few diseases like Malaria and small pox.

Newly arrived europeans.

Indian diet helps during diseases.

Diet viewed as aggravating factor.

Example: Epidemic fever in Madras Presidency.

Most of the dietetic elemtns were ignored.

Interest in Indian diets arose from other sources.

Reinstating Dietetics

Revival began in 19th century.

Believed to be fundamentally equal to western medicine.

Ayurvedi remedies were made available.

Only the vegetarian remedies were widespread.

But dietetic was hardly incorporated in western medicine.

Indian diets were blamed for physical weakness prevaling among

the poor.

Knowing Health and Medicine

A Case study of Benares,c.1900-1950
Madhuri Sharma

Many writings regarding medicine
Engagement of educated section with Western medicine
Colonial sanitary and public health measures buttressed the
authority commanded by Western medicine
This generated rich corpus of medical tracts in Hindi


Premchands Godan those who needed the most were denied access
due to poverty
Describes illness at three points
Getting treated for simple illness from doctors is a status symbol
Medicine is longed for but is completely out of reach for poor peasants
Rural migrants to the city in search of job

Educated section were learning about the body and its well being and
sought a pedagogical role
They were setting up civic organizations to engage with sanitary issues,
trying a carve out a niche for themselves

Historians sought to locate science in the Vedic past,both to glorify

the Vedic scripture and to suggest modern science was not an alien
Argued that concept of sanitation was nothing new in Benares
Kashi Ganga Prasadhini Sabha-to redirect sewage of Benares
Casted the endeavour as an akin to act of devotion

Professional authorities in the

public sphere
Indian allopathic doctors played a vital role in transforming
peoples perception about diseases and their cure
Through the medium of vernacular languages,they tried to
disseminate western medicine
Pandit Kali Charan Dubey,a health officer of Benaresdistributing pamphlets,self help manuals and primers-against
small pox,cholera and tetanus

Disease,Causative agents and cure:

The cause and spread of plague-due to krimi which enters body
through wounds
Ayurvedic practitioners tried to learn some allopathic techniques
Appealed both to patients and doctors as it allowed near accurate
diagnosis without any breach of the purdah norm

In realm of medical knowledge one section was involved in

imparting physical and anatomical details of the body

Another section involved in healthy mind and healthy body

An attempt was made to correlate the discourses on nationalism
with voices for male or masculine nation
Brahmacharya as a building block for strong masculine nation
Concern only for men's health

Juvenile health and toxic effect of drugs

Medicine offered many possibilities for good health,but
colonial capitalization also had adverse effects
Elite sections of the society tried to carve a niche for

A Mixed Record
Malaria Control in Bombay Presidency,1900-1935
Mridula Ramanna

Indian responses were not very oppositional as plague
Quinine was available which prevented greater loss
Indians resorted to Western medicine for surgery and
believed that it could act for a short time,while Indian
medicine,though slow to act,was considered effective,cheap
and locally available.

After many thoughts on the cause of malaria it was proved that

female anopheles mosquito was the actual cause
Malaria control in Western India-analysis based on colonial records
Distinction between malarial fever and other fevers was not clear in
19th century
Preventive measures-covering wells,introduction of fish to control
mosquito larvae
Even though it was objected in the beginning,it was accepted in due
course of time

Bombay City
There was a small brake in anti malaria campaign due to first
world war which was resumed in 1920s by efforts of
malariologists,doctors and press
Followed decline in spleen ratesdue to public
involvement,adequate funds
Cities like Poona,Ahmedabad and Karachi also made efforts
but in small cities like Surat and Broach finance was a

Scenario in rural regions

Health care was negligible in rural districts
Rural sanitation was handed over to local bodies,which had
limited funds
Urges in the council-little was done beyond quinine
Sind and Canara were notoriously malarial
Surveys were conducted-proper drainage is required
Quinine distribution was in itself infancy

Direct relation between rice cultivation and prevalence of malaria

Russells report confirmed that Lloyd barrage scheme would
increase malaria
Educating the irrigation engineers and guiding formers
Overall had a little follow up action in legislature
Sawantwadi sought and secured RockeFeller Foundation funding to
combat malaria

Healing The Sick And the Destitute

The medical missionary is one who seeks to serve his God as these
men served their country and king.( James Mcphail, observed while reading a paper at the
medical conference)

Importance of Medical Missionaries

Activities of LMS and CMS undoubtedly reveal the importance of

medical missions.
They performed two major roles.
1.They were organized with a zeal of proselytization and their
obvious intention was to Christianise the lower caste Hindus.
2. Stalling the reconversion of Christians to their original faiths.

(In times of small smallpox epidemics, Christian converts joined their

heathen associates to propitiate goddess mariamman ).

Thus by combining the two rare elements of religion

and medicine, the medical missionaries tried to be
the protectors of their faith as well as effective
catalyst for mass conversion.

Rate of Success

Though the no of upper caste Hindus treated in the mission

hospitals may have been large, Medical mission work hardly
succeeded in conversion of upper caste Hindus to Christianity

They successful in converting few lower caste individuals, but

hardly met success in converting the upper castes.

Relatively less Opposition.

Opposition to medical mission work was much less when

compared with their reaction towards missionary educational
Medical missions probably provoked lesser controversies or
raised fewer objections than the other activates of the
(by norman goodhall, the compiler of the history of the LMS.)

Successful treatment of infectious diseases has ebbed

the popular aversion towards western medical
An increasing number of patients expressed their
willingness to undergo the treatment in the mission

In travancore ruling groups as well as dominant caste

groups appreciated the efforts of the medical
missionaries, they made good amount of donations to
the missionary run medical institutions.

In South India

Though they barely touched the peripheries of local

societies in south India, they were able to establish
that they were only carrying forth the ideals of soul
service and universal brotherhood of man.

Negotiating Subalternity in Everyday Life

Social Construction of Tuberculosis in Colonial

and Post-Colonial India

Biography of the disease.

Tb has existed from the very dawn of the

Before streptomycin was discovered in 1945, TB is
responsible for the greatest no of deaths in history.
In India TB appears to have been prevalent from
vedic civilization.

Prior to 1840 TB was a very rare disease, but during

the second half of the 19th century, the picture
drastically changed, it took an alarming proportion.
In 1920s, there had been a widespread impression
among the medical men that TB was rapidly
spreading in the country.

Spread of he disease depended on whether people

lived huddled together under bad hygienic conditions
in towns or well separated to avoid massive
inoculation from source of infection.

This is the reason why nomadic people rarely and the

inhabitants of thinly populated rural areas less
frequently got it. (as argued by A.C.Ukil in 1826)

Statistical Evidence

Comparison of deaths from TB

One can hardly judge the exact situation from statistical returns,
methods of registration were more often than not faulty, large
number of cases returned as fever had been found to be really due
to TB

On a whole the numbers were much higher than the estimated


Race and Sex Incidence.

TB is found to have been more frequent in muslims than

Hindus and their is greater incidence of tubercle among
females than in males in India.

Due to, less open air, out of door life of females.

More frequent in case of muslim women due to shut up in
the too frequently ill-ventilated zenanas.

Occupation of the patients- coolie class, clerical class,

sweeper class, office bearers, peons, chaprasis, durwans, hotel
boys, rickshaw, sepoys in the police force, dhobis, prostitutes,
and slum-dwellers were the most frequent victims.

Age Incidence- the largest number of patients are between

ages 26 and 30, and the children between the ages 1 to 5
furnished the fewest admissions.

Max deaths took place between the ages of 20 and 40 years.

Living in The Shadow of Death: Social

Response To Tuberculosis

There was a huge social stigma associated with TB,

which is worse for females than for males,
sometimes resulting in divorce.
Ethinicity and minority status also informs decisions
about where people seek treatment.
People used hide their disease for the fear rejection.
Even their own families abandon them to their fate,
homeless and helpless.

Vulnerability of women to Bacillus

Myths and Reality (1890-1950)
Bikramaditya Kumar Choudary

Increased interaction amongst individuals across the globe- unintended
Open-field agrarian practice to close-door crowded industrialization
Theories for the spread:
(i) Poor record keeping
--Cultural: Human body not considered of worth it - no means to
maintain records
--Other: purposeful negligence & inefficient mechanism of
maintaining records by the British
--Prime motto of imperial govt. - extraction of resources;
benevolence towards population to justify territorial
(ii) Erroneous method of data collection because of archaic methods
leading to
large margin of error
--Deliberate negligence by the British
Available statistics show magnitude and nature of death due to TB far excess than
plague, small pox or cholera- established fact by 1916
1:5 death to reported cases ratio; Deaths during Bengal famine of 1943: 150%
annual death due to TB
Black magic of Bengal or White Plague

(1) Putting blame back on the sufferer- women painted as more
vulnerable due
to their own fault
(2) Special care for the sufferer- efforts made to understand causes
eliminate the disease
Pre-independence, morbidity statistics hardly available. TB always existed,
intensity unknown
Few regions and groups more susceptible. North-West province and Punjab
endemic regions; Gurkhas, Pathans more susceptible than army soldiers;
Women more susceptible










Deaths from







Table: Death rates due to Phthisis during the year 1913

Committees set up to investigate; Reasons during 19th and 20th centuries:
Constructed and Real

In the late 17th century and early 18th century, two major causes :
(i) Inherent defectiveness of female physiology essentialism. Azell in
1875: consumption and failure of the female menstrual cycle have
parents of each other interchangeably
(ii) Feminine characteristics of the disease- erratic emotional patternwomen were sickly and sickness was feminine
victim blaming
Indian picture by Lankaster, Sparwson and others:
(1) Bovine to human TB : affected children of the affected European
women. Off late ruled out by Sprawson in 1938
(2) Purdah system: Women kept in Zenana - ideal condition for growth of
tubercle bacillus; Cultural diffusion from the West where the elite women enjoyed
leisure at home; Men effected less

(3) Child marriages: not a direct reason. Two ways: strict pardah after
marriage and frequent cases of successful and unsuccessful pregnancies; women
considered as impure and secluded to keep the infant from sheetal vayu.
(4) Industrialization and sanatorium in combination with isolation:
Short-term movements ; Women confined to households after getting infected;
Doctors not allowed to examine women.
Cultural practices in India reasons for higher prevalence. Justification for the
logic using diffusionist approach that also rationalizes cultural and economic
Diffusion- developed underdeveloped (higher section)
underdeveloped (lower sections)


1840 sanatorium treatment initiated but 1882 Kochs identification as infectious
disease fuelled the operation by 1890
By 1899 disease controlled in the west. 1909 first sanatorium near Shimla and first
govt. sanatorium -1917; Tilona near Ajmer and Almora set up by missionaries but
limited to non-natives; Bhowali, Madanapalle, Lonavla near Pune
Not exclusively for women ; for lower class women affordability issue.

Conception of TB- few key factors: climate, heredity, nature of disease, social
Contagious character known by 16th century but measures died by 19th
unsupportive British physicians
Tuberculosis is a communicable disease but not infectious- diffusion not easy
Resolutions of British Congress 27 July, 1901- TB sputum declared main agent for
the conveyance of the virus but govt. didnt do much
Either affordability or ignorance caused further spread

SUMMARY : No logical explanation as to why women more vulnerable. But women not
given equal importance as men; Industrialization one major reason

Delivering the
Murdered Child
Infanticide, Abortion and Contraception in Colonial
Indira Chowdary

Abortion and Child birth as means of the twin sites of exchange of medical and
colonial ideologies.
Criminalization of social practices ad bodily functions - process that is marked by
the colonial encounter

Knowledge of sexual practices and bodily functions of women created based on

lack of morality . Domain redeployed as Planned parenthood in 1930-40.
From 19th century Bengal pamphlets to 1930-40s birth control propagation. Birth
control was medicalized; abortion surfaced on an altered guise in the context of
hygienic concept of sex.
Allan Webb, 1848, book Pathologica Indica or the Anatomy of Indian diseases
discussion on idolatry worship of male and female organs- justification saying
that most serious lesions in females result from the brutal institutions or
practices connected with idolatry No country in the world has immolated so
many new born infants as India, nor any race of mankind practised act of
murdering children when yet in the womb

Orientalism- Culture that created a picture of depravity of moral character

1856, Norman Chevers, MD & Secretary of Medical Board, Calcutta- A Manual of
Medical Jurisprudence for Bengal and the Northwest Provinces : criminal abortion as
lack of true morality and vigilant control of the society over the conduct of the
women- prohibition of widow remarriage+ lack of morality ; 10,000 children
murdered in the womb every month in Bengal
Ideas adopted by Indians to understand their own social reality; incorporated
selected information about Indian culture
During the same time, Vidyasagar introduced widow remarriage made it clear that
abortion was linked with issue of illegitimacy and fear of social expulsion


Widow Remarriage Act of 1856- failure. 1860 XLV Act of Indian penal Code Sections
312 to 318 criminalized any intention or form of harm to infants
Natural abortions unmarried women more liable to suffer
Robert Harvey, Surgeon in the Bengal Army during 1870-72 investigated and
reported 132 out of 378 cases were fatal
Reports gave mechanical means and home remedies used by the dhais to bring
off an abortion. Abortifacients such as Lal Chitra along with hing; Juice of madar
plant, ginger, garlic, pinapple with salt along with roots
Traditional knowledge of the dhai lost legitimacy; traditional medicine reduced to
knowledge of the abortifaciants
Native doctors like Harinarayana Bandopadhayaya published in 1875 a catalogue of
native practices- Gurbini- Bandhab with purpose of describing the evil practices
so that social reforms could be achieved- cognitive enslavement

Vidyaratna Kshetramohan Sens article Bhrun Hatya poverty & abortion no

Open ancient system; Distorted social beliefs put overwhelming importance on
legitimacy ; de-recognition of widow remarriages led to infanticides
Christianity was responsible for laws against abortion
European attempts to reform social practices failed - diverse systems of marriage
tagged as all non-sacramental and immoral ; making infanticide as a cognizable
offense wouldnt stop the problem - intricately connected with marriage and
Michel Foucaults Govenmentality : Disciplining- scrutiny of sexual and bodily
Scientia Sexualis (set up by the West) and arcs erotica (experiential )two domains of
knowledge. Experiential replaced by domain that defined permitted and
legitimate pracitces


N.S. Phadke Sex problems in India 1927- sexual appetite natural . Argued
against Ghandis articles advocating continence

Illicit intercourse exists in Indian society just as elsewhere but didnt have
access to the scientific contraceptive knowledge ; Scientific contraceptivessafety, efficacy and cost; Indigenous contraceptives- abortifacients
Marie Stopes pamphlet in 1935 : abortion for married women - not published
because abortion was supposed to be practised only by Indian women who
had illicit pregnancies

Increased medicalization of birth control- the knowledge of contraception

disallowed to unmarried women and widows


Methods of birth control in India first articulated by members of Eugencies
Population control gained prominence and dissemination of birth control advice
in presidencies considered as a feasible measure to oust quacks
Margaret Sanger, Edith How-Martyn, Marie Stopes : althought non-medical
women, appealed to womens organizations for medicalization of birth control;
met people of public opinion- Future depends on medical and official direction
Medicalization of birth control - way of providing it with legitimacy as well as
Birth control clinics, demonstration classes for both men and women; effected
only the elite section of the society
Birth control prevention and not destruction
Arrival of modern birth control- plea for decriminalization of abortion under
failure of contraception- again focused on married women


Census of 1931- G.S Ghuryes article: population replenishing from poorer stocks
& womans age of marriage campaign should accompany birth control campaign
K.K. Bhattacharya , 1935, Marriage Hygiene rigid social system creating
unbalanced marriage practices
Population control created idea of sexual compatibility and sexual satisfaction
for health of offspring

Foucauldian framework social & medical domains
interaction 19th century Rubbishing to 20th century
Medicalization - governmentality at work. 3 to 4 decades
after independence some focus on womens issues(?)

Health and
Sovereignty in the
New Asia

The Decline and Rise of the Tropics

Author David Arnold subscribed to a vision of tropical Asia
dominated by the power of nature, and naturally poor.
All Asia is prostrate with common disease of Poverty -- Ram
Manohar Lohia (1952)
Gradual shift from optimism to pessimism about the
possibility of conquering tropical nature.

Conquering the Tropics

Attempt to overcome tropic diseases and bodily dispositions
through technology.
New knowledge of nutrition, better birth control, better
insecticides and sanitation fueled optimism.
Increasing food production and redistribution of consumption
was at the heart of planning commission.

Post-Colonial Visions of
Two overlapping narratives: Tropical Discourse vs Historical
Discourse on Poverty
Conception of Asia gave rise to many colonial disciplines. Ex:
Tropical Geography, Tropical Medicine
The relationship between health and development remained
ambiguous. Technology vs Social Justice

The Limits of Planning

1950s and 60s saw the height of techno-optimism.
The identification of Malaria with tropical backwardness
became a recurring theme.
Number of initiatives to eradicate Malaria.
Malaria eradication programs jeopardized due to limited

The Challenges of the Tropical

Dreams of disease eradication were lost in urban slums.
Urban poor as the interface between underdevelopment and
Emergence of miasmic theory in urban environment.
My Kampung, a mockery of international gospel of

Cholera, Heroic
Therapies and Rise of
Homeopathy in 19
Century India

Therapies, Therapists and

19th Century was mediated by outbreaks of Asiatic Cholera
the world over.
Career of cholera challenged and changed the career of a
doctor in the colony.
Medicine in post-Enlightenment era was crude and heroic.
Failure of allopathy paved the way for the emergence of

Rhetoric and Reality of Heroic

Calomel and Opium as wonder drugs by Hay and Tytler.
Model of treatment entailed the use of stimulants and opiates
the former to restore confidence and the latter to prevent
vomiting and purging.
The Use and Abuse of Calomel by J. Annesely.

Hahnemannian Reform and

Dominant medicine followed the Cartesian-mechanistic
conception of the living organism.
Hahnemann rejected the mechanistic perspective and argued
for a vitalistic appreciation, which emphasized on the
wholeness of the human body.
Cardinal Rules of Hahnemann:
A) Experimentation on healthy individual. B) Disease
producing effect. C) Optimum Dosage

Cholera, Homeopathy and Sarkars

Exposition of his Creed
Sarkar expelled from British Medical Association (1867) due to
his speech on the uncertainty of the current medical practice.
Started Calcutta Journal of Medicine (1868) and stood by the
principle: Always allow facts to modify opinions and not the
other way around.
By the time of his death (1904), homeopathy had gained
acceptance, respect, professional status and avid practitioners
to guard and defend it.