True Diamond : Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi - true medical pioneer15:36:00
The annals of Indian history are replete with examples of heroism, progressive thought and affirmative action. Indian culture and ethos however are sadly also fraught with examples of gender bias, oppression and stereotypical misogyny to the ‘fairer’ sex. This is why today’s story is a refreshing change which will highlight the triumph of progressive thought over generations of oppression.
Our story is that of Dr. Anandi Gopalrao Joshi, India’s first western trained doctor, one of the few South Asian medical practitioners and of course the first Indian Hindu woman to have ever set foot in America. Born as ‘Yamuna’ in Kalyan, (modern day Thane district), on 31st March 1865, she was the daughter of a former feudal family that had lost its wealth. Under immense pressure from her family, she married Gopalrao Joshi, a widower 20 years her senior, at the age of 9!
Here’s where young Yamuna’s (later named Anandi, by her husband) life began to change. Her progressive minded husband, helped educate the young girl, first making sure she was fluent in English, and later on, paying for her entire school and college education. Gopalrao, noticed that his young wife was both bright and talented, and did all in his means to encourage her thirst for knowledge.
At the age of 18, accompanied by two English female chaperones, Anandi Gopal Joshi made history by becoming the first Indian Hindu woman to have sailed to the Americas. Later that year, in 1883, she was admitted into the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, where she earned her doctorate in obstetrics, by publishing her dissertation entitled, “Obstetrics among Hindoo Aryans.” The most amazing thing however was the fact that she did all this, despite having contracted Tuberculosis, and her health deteriorating rather steadily.
Image Credit: https://collections.nlm.nih.gov/pageturnerserver/ajaxp?theurl=http://localhost:8080/fedora/get/nlm:nlmuid-101436211-img/Preview
Anandibai returned to her homeland to a hero’s welcome in late 1886, and was appointed the physician in chief of the women’s health division, at the Albert Edward Hospital, patronised by the royal family of Kolhapur. Unfortunately however at the tender young age of 21, Anandibai succumbed to tuberculosis. A flame that we feel was extinguished far too quickly!
A true story of the victory of the indomitable human spirit against all odds. We at Eves 24 salute this stellar couple and remembers their contribution to progressive thought and action in India. Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, a #TrueDiamond, if there ever was one!