Kadambini Ganguly

Kadambini Ganguly
Kadambini Ganguly.jpg
Kadambini Basu

18 July 1861 (1861-07-18)
Died3 October 1923(1923-10-03) (aged 62)
(m. 1883; died 1898)

Kadambini Ganguly (18 July 1861 – 3 October 1923[1]) was one of the first Indian female doctors who practised with a degree in modern medicine. She was the first Indian woman to practice medicine in India. Ganguly was the first woman to gain admission to Calcutta Medical College in 1884, subsequently trained in Scotland, and established a successful medical practice in India.

Early life

Ganguly was born Kadambini Basu daughter of Brahmo reformer Braja Kishore Basu, she was born on 18 July 1861[2] at Bhagalpur, Bengal Presidency (modern day Bihar) in British India, raised in Barisal. The family was from Chandsi, in Barisal which is now in Bangladesh. Her father was headmaster of Bhagalpur School. He and Abhay Charan Mallick started the movement for women's emancipation at Bhagalpur, establishing the women's organisation Bhagalpur Mahila Samiti in 1863, the first in India.

Despite coming from an upper caste Bengali community that did not support women's education,[3] Kadambini initially received English education at the Brahmo Eden Female School, Dacca; subsequently at Hindu Mahila Vidyalaya, Ballygunj Calcutta which was renamed as Banga Mahila Vidyalaya in 1876. The school merged with Bethune School (established by Bethune) in 1878 and she became the first woman to pass the University of Calcutta entrance examination. She passed the FA exam in 1880. It was partly in recognition of her efforts that Bethune College first introduced FA (First Arts), and then graduation courses in 1883. She and Chandramukhi Basu became the first graduates from Bethune College, and also the first female graduates in the country.[a][6]

Professional life

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Personal life

Residence of Kadambini Ganguly

Kadambini Ganguly married Dwarakanath Ganguly on 12 June 1883, 11 days before joining Calcutta Medical College.[11][full citation needed] As the mother of eight children, she had to devote considerable time to her household affairs. She was deft in needlework.[8] Among her children, Jyotirmayee was a freedom fighter and Prabhat Chandra was a journalist.

American historian David Kopf[12] notes that Ganguly "was appropriately enough the most accomplished and liberated Brahmo woman of her time", and her relationship with her husband Dwarkanath Ganguly "was most unusual in being founded on mutual love, sensitivity and intelligence." Kopf argues that Ganguly was highly unusual even among emancipated women of contemporary Bengali society, and that "her ability to rise above circumstances and to realize her potential as a human being made her a prize attraction to Sadharan Brahmos dedicated ideologically to the liberation of Bengal's women."[13]

Ganguly died on October 3, 1923, after having conducted an operation the same day.[8]

Criticism from conservatives quarters

Ganguly was heavily criticised by conservative society of her time. After returning to India from Edinburgh and campaigning for women's rights, she was indirectly called a 'whore' in the Bengali magazine Bangabashi. Her husband Dwarkanath Ganguly took the case to court and won, with a jail sentence of 6 months meted out to the editor Mahesh Pal.[9][14]

In popular culture

A Bengali television serial Prothoma Kadambini based on Ganguly's biography was telecast on Star Jalsha beginning in March 2020, starring Solanki Roy and Honey Bafna in the lead.[15] Another Bengali series named Kadambini, starring Ushasi Ray as Ganguly, was telecast on Zee Bangla in 2020.

On 18 July 2021, Google celebrated Ganguly's 160th birth anniversary with a doodle on its homepage in India.[16][17]


  1. ^ Female students were admitted into Oxford University in 1879, one year after the admission of female students for undergraduate studies at the University of Calcutta.[4] The tripos was opened to women at Cambridge only in 1881.[5]


  1. ^ Sen, B.K. (September 2014). "Kadambini Ganguly - An Illustrious Lady" (PDF). Science and Culture - Indian Science News Organization.
  2. ^ Karlekar, Malavika (2012). "Anatomy of a Change: Early Women Doctors". India International Centre Quarterly. 39 (3/4): 95–106. JSTOR 24394278.
  3. ^ a b "Kadambini Ganguly – UncoverED". Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  4. ^ "Women at Oxford". Archived from the original on 18 October 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  5. ^ "Numbers of graduates of the University of Cambridge". MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive.
  6. ^ "A Convocation for the conferring of Degrees". The Times of India. 15 March 1883. p. 9. Among the recipients of the B.A. degrees were two young ladies of the Bethune Female School, Miss Chandramukhi Basu and Miss Kadambini Basu, who were loudly cheered. The Vice-Chancellor [of Calcutta University] (the Hon. H. J. Reynolds) presided.
  7. ^ "A native lady collegian". Homeward Mail. 10 March 1879.
  8. ^ a b c d e Chakrabarty, Roshni. "Kadambini Ganguly, India's first female doctor who made Calcutta Medical College start admitting women". India Today. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  9. ^ a b "The Life and Work of Dr Kadambini Ganguly, the First Modern Indian Woman Physician". Retrieved 5 April 2007.
  10. ^ "A lady doctor in orthodox Nepal". Englishman's Overland Mail. 27 November 1895.
  11. ^ Star Jalsha, Prothoma Kadambini
  12. ^ "David Kopf". History at Minnesota. Regents of the University of Minnesota. Archived from the original on 16 May 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  13. ^ Kopf, David (1979). The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind. Princeton University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-691-03125-5.
  14. ^ "Dwarakanath Ganguly – A Forgotten Hero – The Indian Messenger Online". Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  15. ^ "Prothoma Kadombini to launch on March 16". The Times of India. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  16. ^ "Kadambini Ganguly, India's First Female Doctor, Honoured by Google Doodle". News18. 18 July 2021. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  17. ^ "Kadambini Ganguly's 160th Birthday". Google. Retrieved 18 July 2021.

Further reading


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