Kadambini Ganguly

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Kadambini Bose Ganguly
Kadambini Bose (কাদম্বিনী বসু)

18 July 1861 (1861-07-18)
Died3 October 1923(1923-10-03) (aged 62)
(m. 1883; died 1898)

Kadambini Bose Ganguly (18 July 1861 – 3 October 1923[1]) was a medical doctor in India.She and Anandibai Joshi both got their degree in Western medicine in 1886.However She was India's first practicing lady doctor as Anandibai died soon after.She was the very first Indian woman to have practised with a degree in modern medicine. Ganguly was the first woman to gain admission to Calcutta Medical College in 1884, subsequently trained in Scotland, and established a successful medical practice in India. She was the first woman speaker in the Indian National Congress.

Early life[edit]

Kadambini was born in Bengali Kayastha family[2] as Kadambini Basu who was the daughter of Brahmo reformer Braja Kishore Basu. She was born on 18 July 1861[3] at Bhagalpur, Bengal Presidency (modern day Bihar) in British India, raised in Barisal. 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.

Despite coming from an upper caste Bengali community that did not support women's education,[4] Kadambini initially received English education at the Brahmo Eden Female School, Dacca; subsequently at Hindu Mahila Vidyalaya, Ballygunj Calcutta which was renamed as Banga Mahila Vidyalaya in 1876. The school merged with Bethune School (established by Bethune) in 1878 and she became the first woman to pass the University of Calcutta entrance examination. She passed the FA exam in 1880. 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 also the first female graduates in the country.[a][7]

Personal life[edit]

Residence of Kadambini Ganguly

Kadambini Bose married Dwarakanath Ganguly on 12 June 1883, 11 days before joining Calcutta Medical College.[8][full citation needed] As the mother of eight children, she had to devote considerable time to her household affairs. She was deft in needlework.[9] Among her children, Jyotirmayee was a freedom fighter and Prabhat Chandra was a journalist. Her step-daughter was married to Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury, grandfather of filmmaker Satyajit Ray.

American historian David Kopf[10] notes that Ganguly "was appropriately enough the most accomplished and liberated Brahmo woman of her time", and her relationship with her husband Dwarkanath Ganguly "was most unusual in being founded on mutual love, sensitivity and intelligence." Kopf argues that Ganguly was highly unusual even among emancipated women of contemporary Bengali society, and that "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."[11]

Ganguly died on 3 October 1923, after having conducted an operation the same day.[1]

Criticism from conservative quarters[edit]

Ganguly was heavily criticised by the conservative society of her time. After returning to India from Edinburgh and campaigning for women's rights, she was indirectly called a 'whore' in the Bengali magazine Bangabashi. Her husband Dwarkanath Ganguly took the case to court and won, with a jail sentence of 6 months meted out to the editor Mahesh Pal.[12][13]

In popular culture[edit]

A Bengali television serial Prothoma Kadambini based on Ganguly's biography was telecast on Star Jalsha beginning in March 2020, starring Solanki Roy and Honey Bafna in the lead.[14] Another Bengali series named Kadambini, starring Ushasi Ray as Ganguly, was telecast on Zee Bangla in 2020.

On 18 July 2021, Google celebrated Ganguly's 160th birth anniversary with a doodle on its homepage in India.[15][16]


  1. ^ 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.[5] The tripos was opened to women at Cambridge only in 1881.[6]


  1. ^ a b Sen, B.K. (September 2014). "Kadambini Bose Ganguly - An Illustrious Lady" (PDF). Science and Culture - Indian Science News Organization. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 March 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  2. ^ Paranjape, Makarand R. (3 September 2012). Making India: Colonialism, National Culture, and the Afterlife of Indian English Authority. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-94-007-4661-9. Archived from the original on 3 September 2023. Retrieved 5 April 2024.
  3. ^ Karlekar, Malavika (2012). "Anatomy of a Change: Early Women Doctors". India International Centre Quarterly. 39 (3/4): 95–106. JSTOR 24394278.
  4. ^ "Kadambini Ganguly – UncoverED". Archived from the original on 9 January 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Women at Oxford". Archived from the original on 18 October 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  6. ^ "Numbers of graduates of the University of Cambridge". MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  7. ^ "A Convocation for the conferring of Degrees". The Times of India. 15 March 1883. p. 9. Among the recipients of the B.A. degrees were two young ladies of the Bethune Female School, Miss Chandramukhi Basu and Miss Kadambini Basu, who were loudly cheered. The Vice-Chancellor [of Calcutta University] (the Hon. H. J. Reynolds) presided.
  8. ^ Star Jalsha, Prothoma Kadambini
  9. ^ Chakrabarty, Roshni. "Kadambini Ganguly, India's first female doctor who made Calcutta Medical College start admitting women". India Today. Archived from the original on 19 May 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  10. ^ "David Kopf". History at Minnesota. Regents of the University of Minnesota. Archived from the original on 16 May 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  11. ^ Kopf, David (1979). The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind. Princeton University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-691-03125-5.
  12. ^ Rao, Amrith R.; Karim, Omer; Motiwala, Hanif G. (April 2007). "The Life and Work of Dr Kadambini Ganguly, the First Modern Indian Woman Physician". The Journal of Urology. doi:10.1016/S0022-5347(18)31285-0. Archived from the original on 11 February 2021. Retrieved 5 April 2007.
  13. ^ "Dwarakanath Ganguly – A Forgotten Hero – The Indian Messenger Online". 3 April 2018. Archived from the original on 22 July 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  14. ^ "Prothoma Kadombini to launch on March 16". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 12 February 2023. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  15. ^ "Kadambini Ganguly, India's First Female Doctor, Honoured by Google Doodle". News18. 18 July 2021. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Kadambini Ganguly's 160th Birthday". Archived from the original on 18 July 2021. Retrieved 18 July 2021.

Further reading[edit]