Rukhmabai, the first Indian woman physician

Rukhmabai Raut (born November 22, 1864 – September 25, 1955), was an Indian woman who became one of the first practicing women doctors in colonial India. However, first lady physician of India was Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi, who got her degree on 11 March 1886. But Dr. Joshi could not practise more than a year and so the credit of 1st practising lady physician on the basis of more duration goes to Dr. Rukhmabai Raut, who joined her medical course in 1889 and returned to India in 1894. Dr. Rukhmabai practised for more than 50 years in India.

Ded to India as a first qualified physician and worked for many years in Rajkot and Surat

Rukhmabai was born in Maharashtrian (Marathi) family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai who came from a community of carpenters(Sutars). When Janardhan Pandurang died, Jayantibai transferred her property to Rukhmabai who was only eight and when she turned eleven, she married her daughter off to Dadaji Bhikaji, then aged nineteen. Jayantibai married a widower, Dr Sakharam Arjun but Rukhmabai stayed in the family home and studied at home using books from a Free Church Mission library. Rukhmabai and her mother were regulars at the weekly meetings of the Prarthanä Samäj and the Arya Mahilä Samäj.[1] Dadaji lost his mother and took to living with his maternal uncle Narayan Dhurmaji. The environment of Dhurmaji’s home pushed Dadaji into a life of indolence and waywardness. Dhurmaji had a mistress at home and his wife attempted suicide. Rukhmabai at the age of twelve refused to move to the household of Dhurmaji to live with Dadaji and Sakharam Arjun supported her decision. In March 1884, Dadaji sent a letter, through his lawyers Chalk and Walker, to Sakharam Arjun asking him to stop preventing Rukhmabai from joining him. Sakharam Arjun responded through civil letters that he was not preventing her but soon he too was forced to obtain legal help. Through lawyers Payne, Gilbert, and Sayani, Rukhmabai provided grounds for refusing to join Dadaji. Dadaji claimed that Rukhmabai was being kept away because she could assert the rights to the property of her father’s.

Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar

Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar
Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar

Sir Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar(21 February 1894 – 1 January 1955) was a well-known Indian  scientist, a professor of chemistry for over 19 years. He was the first director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR), and he is revered as the “father of research laboratories”. He was also the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

To honour his name and achievements, CSIR instituted an award Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, since 1958 for outstanding scientists who made significant contributions in various branches of science.

For his excellent contributions to pure and applied chemistry, Bhatnagar was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1936 New Year Honours List.He was knighted in the 1941 New Year Honours List for his contributions to the advancement of science. In 1943 the Society of Chemical Industry, London, elected him as Honorary Member and later as Vice President.Bhatnagar was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1943.

In independent India, he was the President of the Indian Chemical Society, National Institute of Sciences of India and the Indian National Science Congress. He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 1954. The prestigious award in science in India, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology was created in his honour.