Page 45 - ScienceIndia Magazine March 2021
P. 45

             ACADEMIC LIFE
Anandibai Joshi travelled to the US from Kolkata, was received by Mrs Carpenter. Rachel Bodley, the dean of the college, enrolled her. Her health issues started from the beginning but she did not allow them to come in the way of her concen- trated efforts of learning and research.
Anandibai began her medical train- ing at the age of 19. In the US, her health worsened because of the cold weather and unfamiliar diet. She contracted tu- berculosis. Nevertheless, she graduated with an MD in March 1886; the topic of her thesis was: ‘Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos’. The thesis utilised ref- erences from both Ayurvedic texts and American medical textbooks. Gopalrao arrived in Philadelphia, by the time she had completed her studies and was a doc- tor. From there, they boarded the ship together and went back home. On her graduation, Queen Victoria sent her a congratulatory message.
In late 1886, Anandibai returned to India to a grand welcome. The princely state of Kolhapur appointed her as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital. Un- fortunately, she did not get enough time to practice her dream for Indian women and succumbed to TB which did not have effective medications then. She passed away on February 26, 1887.
While there is many a documenta- tion of her work and life in the form
Left: A photo of Dr Joshi bearing her signature
of biography, biopics, etc, this short- lived shining woman scientist has a crater on Venus named in her honour. The 34.3 km-diameter crater on Venus named ‘Joshee’ lies at latitude 5.5° N and longitude 288.8° E.
Medicine is an applied science, a lot of inventions have occurred with intuition, observation and intervention from bench to bedside. The clinical research in medi- cine is always driven by a strong urge to help fellow human beings to alleviate physical/ mental suffering, to promote health and wellbeing at personal as well as societal level. ‘Science’ in medicine goes mainly by observational studies, further identifying the need of interven- tion to improve. Scientists in medicine are in no way inferior to the scientists in theoretical pure sciences. Dr Anandibai’s thesis was a research commentary titled ‘Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindoos’, full text of which is available for read-
Far left: Dr Anandibai Joshi with Kei Okami from Japan (centre) and Sabat Islambooly from Syria. All three were the first women from their respective countries to obtain a degree in Western medicine
Left: A gravestone
in the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, New York, in the memory of Dr Anandibai Joshi
ers. It includes mother and child health from the perspectives of Ayurveda as well as modern medicine. Many other aspects of Anandibai’s personality can be gleaned from a wonderful book, Unpub- lished Letters of Anandi and Gopalrao Joshi, edited by Dr C N Parchure, and published by Bharateeya Itihas Sankaln Samiti, Paschim Maharashtra.
At the end, it would be prudent to quote Anandibai from her talk at Ser- ampore, 1883, in an answer to critics: “Indeed, I am surprised to hear that I should not do what is not done by others. I can’t help asking in return, “Who should stand the first then? We must try, never mind if we be victors or victims.”
The most important features of a budding scientist are to believe and pur- sue his/ her own dream, hypothesising and counterchecking it, working hard towards the goal. If it is associated with a great desire to help humanity, such scien- tists achieve great heights. Exactly same was observed in case of Dr Anandibai.
Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi has left a great legacy for all of us.
*Dr Prachee Sathe is Intensivist and consulting Physician, and Profes- sor in Critical Care Medicine. Dr K K Kshirsagar is an author and retired Senior Scientific Officer, Central Bee Research and Training Institute, Pune, and founder member, Vijnana Bharati.
        All Images Courtesy: Internet

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