Kadambini Ganguly

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kadambini Ganguly
Kadambini Ganguly.jpg
Kadambini Basu

18 July 1861[1]
Died3 October 1923(1923-10-03) (aged 62)
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Alma materBethune College
University of Calcutta
OccupationDoctor, women's emancipation
Spouse(s)Dwarkanath Ganguly

Kadambini Ganguly (Bengali: কাদম্বিনী গাঙ্গুলি; 18 July 1861 – 3 October 1923)[2] was the second female physician from India as well as from the entire British Empire. Kadambini, herself, was also the first Indian as well as South Asian female physician, trained in western medicine, to graduate in South Asia.

Early life[edit]

The daughter of Brahmo reformer Braja Kishore Basu, she was born on 18 July 1861 at Bhagalpur, Bihar in British India. 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.

Kadambini started her education at Banga Mahila Vidyalaya and while at Bethune School (established by Bethune) in 1878 became the first woman to pass the University of Calcutta entrance examination. 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 in the process became the first female graduates in the country and in the entire British Empire.[3]

Medical education and profession[edit]

Ganguly studied medicine at the Calcutta Medical College. In 1886, she was given a Graduate of Bengal Medical College degree. She thus became one of the two, Anandi Gopal Joshi being the other, Indian women doctors who qualified to practice western medicine. Also another Indian woman by the name of Abala Bose passed entrance in 1881 but was refused admission to the medical college and went to Madras (now Chennai) to study medicine but never graduated.

Kadambini overcame some opposition from the teaching staff, and orthodox sections of society. She went to the United Kingdom in 1892 and returned to India after qualifying as LRCP (Edinburgh), LRCS (Glasgow), and GFPS (Dublin). After working for a short period in Lady Dufferin Hospital, she started her own private practice.

Social activities[edit]

In 1883 she married the Brahmo reformer and leader of women's emancipation Dwarkanath Ganguly. They were actively involved in female emancipation and social movements to improve work conditions of female coal miners in eastern India. She was one of the six female delegates to the fifth session of the Indian National Congress in 1889, and even organised the Women's Conference in Calcutta in 1906 in the aftermath of the partition of Bengal. In 1908, she had also organised and presided over a Calcutta meeting for expressing sympathy with Satyagraha – inspired Indian labourers in Transvaal, South Africa. She formed an association to collect money with the help of fundraisers to assist the workers.

Personal life[edit]

As the mother of eight children, she had to devote considerable time to her household affairs. She was deft in needlework.

The noted American historian David Kopf[4] has written, "Ganguli's wife, Kadambini, was appropriately enough the most accomplished and liberated Brahmo woman of her time. From all accounts, their relationship was most unusual in being founded on mutual love, sensitivity and intelligence… Mrs. Ganguli's case was hardly typical even among the more emancipated Brahmo and Christian women in contemporary Bengali society. 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."[5]

She was heavily criticised by the then conservative society opposing women liberation. After returning to India and campaigning for women's rights ceaselessly, she was indirectly called a 'whore' in a magazine, but that could not deter her determination. She took the case up to the court and eventually won with a jail sentence of 6 months meted out to the editor.[6]


  • Kopf, David (1979), The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-03125-8
  • Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), (1976/1998), Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) in Bengali, pp 79–80, ISBN 81-85626-65-0
  • Murshid, Ghulam (2012). "Ganguly, Kadambini". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  • Nandy, Ashis (1995), The Savage Freud and Other Essays on Possible and Retrievable Selves, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-04411-2


  1. ^ Karlekar, Malavika (2012). "Anatomy of a Change: Early Women Doctors". India International Centre Quarterly. 39 (3/4): 95–106. JSTOR 24394278.
  2. ^ SEN, B.K. (September 2014). "KADAMBINI GANGULY – AN ILLUSTRIOUS LADY" (PDF). Science and Culture - Indian Science News Organization.
  3. ^ 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 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 October 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). The tripos was opened to women at Cambridge only in 1881 [1].
  4. ^ "David Kopf". History at Minnesota. Regents of the University of Minnesota. Archived from the original on 16 May 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  5. ^ (Kopf 1979, pp. 125)
  6. ^ "The Life and Work of Dr Kadambini Ganguly, the First Modern Indian Woman Physician". Retrieved 5 April 2007.