- CNM News Desk
Today’s Google Doodle, illustrated by Bengaluru, India-based guest artist Oddrija, celebrates the 160th birthday of Indian doctor Kadambini Ganguly—the first woman to be trained as a physician in India.
Kadambini Ganguly, who had many ‘firsts’ to her credit. She was such an excellent medical practitioner and reached out to many hapless women at a time when very little attention was paid to their health.
On this day in 1861, Kadambini Ganguly (née Bose) was born in Bhagalpur British India, now Bangladesh. Her father, a co-founder of India’s first women’s rights organization, enrolled Ganguly in school during an era when education was uncommon for Indian women. She took the reins on the opportunity, and in 1883, Kadambini Ganguly and her peer Chandramukhi BasuIn became the first women to graduate college in Indian history.
Soon after graduating, Ganguly married professor and activist Dwarkanath Ganguly, who encouraged her to pursue a degree in medicine. She persisted—despite numerous initial rejections—until she was eventually admitted to the Calcutta Medical College. She graduated in 1886, making history once again as the first woman to become an Indian-educated doctor. Ganguly had no intention of slowing her groundbreaking momentum. After working and studying in the United Kingdom, she earned three additional doctoral certifications with a specialization in gynecology and returned to India in the 1890s to open her own private practice.
Ganguly sought to uplift other women in India through both medical service and activism in India’s women’s rights movement. Among many other campaigns, Ganguly joined six others to form the first all-women delegation of the 1889 Indian National Congress.
The 2020 “Prothoma Kadambini” biographical television series based on Ganguly’s life reinvigorated her legacy by telling her inspirational story to a new generation.
Happy birthday, Kadambini Ganguly!
Guest Artist Q&A with Oddrija
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Bengaluru, India-based guest artist Oddrija. Below, she shares her thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q. Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A. In the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how medical infrastructure and doctors have been hailed as sheroes and heroes for becoming the saviors the world needs. Looking back in time, Kadambini Ganguly was a frontrunner in her contribution to medical infrastructure in India with her indomitable spirit and inquisitiveness that landed her a triple diploma in her studies in Western Medicine. In the same spirit, working on this Doodle was a super proud moment for me—getting to represent a young, spirited woman from pre-independence Bangladesh because my own familial roots are also in Bangladesh. Alongside the same, I got to represent some aspect of my own home town which is Calcutta (Ganguly studied in Calcutta Medical College and worked for a long time in many hospitals across Calcutta).
Q. What were your first thoughts when you were approached about working on this Doodle?
A. Simply put, I get to do a Google Doodle about a personality who is from my own home town, spoke my mother tongue and created big change back in her day. It was a proud moment for a Bengali!
Q. Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A. Since there is only one photograph of Ganguly available in online archives, I did some reading about her life and times. Fortunately, there is an impressive online archive of architecture from her times which helped in creating the tone for the Doodle. For the portrait, the only black and white picture was the savior!
Q. What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A. My message would be to treat healthcare workers (be it doctors, nurses or even people who clean up after you) and frontier workers with a bit more respect on a daily basis, since 2020 has shown us how fragile human life can be.