Thursday, 19 April 2018

Medical College, Calcutta, first in Asia - early colonial period

Earliest medical College, Kolkata. Alamy
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 The British East India Company established the Indian Medical Service (IMS) as early as 1764 to look after the medical needs of Europeans in British India as they were living in a tropical country infested with mosquitoes, venomous snakes, etc. IMS officers headed military and civilian hospitals in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras and they also took care of ships and Army. They were assisted by trained native doctors whose medical activities were limited to certain duties. Increasing demands in medical services prompted the British company to give serious consideration to medical education in India. The then Gov. Gen. of India William Bentnick was instrumental in establishing a medical college in Calcutta (Kolkata) "for the education of the Indian youth without exception to creed or caste". Founded on 28 January, 1835, it was a major medical institution to teach western Medicine - European Allopathic system of medicine and was the oldest in Asia. The British were quite pleased with the native doctors who acted as compounders and dressers`as the Ayurvesds and Hakims were not reliable. Very much impressed by the dedication of the native doctors, a vernacular medical School  came into being  as far back as in October 1824 and the classes were conducted at the Sanskrit College and Calcutta Madrassa. Considering Indian students' capacity to learn the subjects, it was found out that the teaching was inadequate. Based on Lord Bentnick's recommendation the educational committee abolished the old school in favor of a new Medical College in 1835 to meet the growing needs of the doctors for the colonial administration. In the early years the Senate of the University used to meet here.
Lord William Bentinck Wikipedia

The college had a humble beginning with Dr, M.S. Bramley,  Asst. Surgeon as the first Principal (1835 to 1837) ; the classes started on the 20th of February, 1835. Prof, Pundit Madusudun Gupta was the instructor. Initially there were 50 students, each receiving a stipend of Rs, 75.00 per month. David Hare, a well known philanthropist served as secretary for some years, A fairly developed College and hospital buildings came up in 1910 through public donations.
Calcutta medical College. University of Calcutta
On the 150th anniversary day, foundation was laid for the research and education in 1984. In the history of Indian medical education, this college crossed some frontiers. On 10 January 1836 Pundit Madusudan Gupta, with his students dissected the first human body, setting aside all the taboos, prejudices and superstitions. In 1838 five Indian doctors came out with flying colors. One Babu Uma Charan Sett stood first. In 1845, the college was recognised and registered in England and in the same, year four students  were sent overseas for higher education.

In 1848 one Babu Mutty Lal Seal (well-known business man) donated a spacious teaching building (it is depicted in the postal stamp).  The foundation stone was laid by Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of India on 30th Sept. 1848 (in the 12th year of the reign of Queen Victoria). The new MCH hospital was opened for sick patients on 1 March 1852. There was also an OT on one side of the old MCH which was later upgraded in 1902  Later other hospitals came up:  the Eden Hospital (1881–82), the Ezra Hospital (1887), the Shama Charan Laha Eye Hospital (1891) and the Prince of Wales Surgical Block, opened in March 1911. The Medical college was affiliated to the newly formed Calcutta University in 1857. Yet another milestone made here  was a girl student Kadambini Ganguli was taken in to study medicine for the first time!!. In this regard the medical council took a decision in June 1883.  This college has produced a number of brilliant doctors the most notable being Dr. B.C.Roy. 

Presently the Medical College trains 750 under graduates and 100 post-graduates. The hospital caters to 2000 plus in-patients and more than 6000 out-patients. The college imparts the degree Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) as well as specialised and post-doctoral degrees. Nursing and para-medical courses are also offered. 

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