Page 56 - Science India August 2022
P. 56

Swatantrata ka Amrut Mahotsava
How Colonial Policies Laid Siege to Indian Systems of Medicine
  Centuries-old Indian systems of medicine were consummately exterminated by the British Raj, and were also slapped with the tag ‘inferior’ causing lasting damage
n Vaidya Preeti Bhosle
Since centuries, Indian indig- enous medicine has been ac- knowledged for proficiency. There are no second thoughts about the fact that Indian medicine faced recession during the colonial era. The East India Company, a Brit-
ish private entity, was on the verge of total domination after taking charge in Bengal and neighbouring areas. The British officials involved with the com- pany were accustomed to consider In- dian cultures and traditions as inferior. Similar ideology was evidently empha- sised in books like James Mill’s The History of British India (1817).
“EFFORTS TO EDUCATE INDIANS” In such a disdainful situation, the East India Company first laid the founda- tion of western system of medicine in
the form of Native Medical Institu- tion (NMI) in Kolkata (1822) and then abolished it 13 years later to pave way for the Medical College (Bengal, 1835). The reason behind NMI’s foundation was the requirement of the company’s military for qualified medical person- nel. Although the preference was for western medical personnel, it was fi- nancially impractical and so NMI was created. British academicians at NMI created a wave of pride amongst the students for making them educated in western medicine and instilling an inferiority complex towards Indian systems of medicine (ISM).
William Bentinck, the governor- general, constituted a committee which strongly criticised NMI and recommended its replacement with a new institution that would teach medi- cine as in European medical colleges
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