|1896 plague in Bombay. scroll.in|
|Dr Accacio Viegas'statue in Mumbai; first to notice plague in Mumbai scroll.in|
In 1896-97, during the British Raj Bombay city and Pune of the Bombay Presidency (now Maharastra) were ravaged by
the global 3rd plague pandemic. Caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, it spreads by fleas that reside on the dead bodies of small animals like rodents of central Asia, this infectious and dangerous disease is capable of killing a large swathe of the population if properer medical care is not taken in time. The first doctor to notice the case of plague in Bombay near the harbor was one Dr Accacio Viegas in his sixties. Being an affable man, he had a flourishing medical practice in Bombay. On Sept. 23 1896, a standing committee reviewed Dr. Viegas' findings on the plague cases. On 29 September, Lord Sandhurst, the Governor of Bombay, sent a telegram to Lord Elgin, the Governor General of India, notifying him of an outbreak of plague in Bombay city.
|Bubonic plague www.cagle.com|
01. Ironically, like Covid-19 virus that is right now turning the whole world upside down, the bubonic plague had its origin in Western Yunnan in China.
|opium problem in China and the british supchina.com|
03. The plague began with an epidemic and started spreading among the overcrowded migrants - Han Chinese in Yunnan killing hundreds of thousands.
04. The plague sneaked into India via Bombay port from Hong Kong as the British were illegally dumping opium in China by running opium-laden ships between Bombay and Hong Kong.
05. The flea-infected rodents via these opium ships landed in India and the first case was detected in Mandavi, a crowded locality near the Bombay harbor.
06. The British, money minded as they were, had kept the opium trade going and the ports functional despite reports of plague attack.
07. The Raj preferred the needed silver from China to native Indians' health; their gross negligence in the early stages of the pandemic helped the plague spread fast and wide.
08. The crowded, densely populated city became an easy target for the plague, a highly infectious disease. Being a commercial hub, there lived a large influx of migrant workers in slums and shanty places with poor sanitary conditions. Here in chawls, many diseases were endemic; the British never looked after the living quarters of the poor. Over-crowding was the main problem.
09. In cities like Bombay, communities like Jains, Bhatias and Banias, living in crowded places like the Chawls, were against killing of rats due to their religious belief of ''Ahimsa''.
10. A section of people of Bombay - 1896-97 refused to co-operate with the govt guidelines. Normally, people cutting across caste, religions, etc have to cooperate with the government if a pandemic situation prevails. Non-cooperation meant results would be disastrous.
11. This was the time the Epidemic Disease Act of 1897 was hurriedly drafted and introduced by the British the direction of Sir W.C.Rand, an arrogant officer to deal with certain sections of people.
12. The belated anti-plague measures taken by the British attracted many criticism and were widely regarded as over-stepping on the privacy of the natives.
13. Many national leaders, quite disappointed with the British's careless approach to the inherent health problems of the natives during the plague crisis, began to raise their voice for freedom from Britain. Their push for freedom was, this time, loud and clear and much stronger than ever before.
14. The initial response to the plague outbreak was segregation and hospitalization. In October, 1896 a government order asked all persons suspected of having plague to be removed to hospitals and separated from the rest of the population.
15. The government banned the conduct of fairs/melas and pilgrimages to religious places. The police stopped and road and rail travelers interrupted for inspection.
16. The hospitals were not well-equipped to handle a large number of cases. A greater part of the revenue from India was transferred to England for the growth of British industries and their economy.
17. Crowded detention centers and people's non-cooperation further aggravated the spread of the disease. As for sanitation of towns and cities, the Raj did not take enough efforts to improve them.
|Bombay plague 1896weebly.com|
The mortality rate of the natives due to bubonic plague in the
Bombay Presidency could have been prevented had the Raj taken seriously health care precautions in the early stages - the moment first case appeared near Bombay dock.