How Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi’s first medical college, drew women into medicine

During a visit to India in 1911, King George V announced that the British government would be transferred from Calcutta to Delhi on April 1 the following year. When the then Viceroy of India, Baron Charles Hardinge, and his wife Winifred Selina Sturt, Baroness Hardinge of Penshurst, moved to Delhi, she observed that there was no faculty of medicine in the city. While men who wanted to study medicine traveled to cities like Agra, Kolkata and Chennai, there were no options for women who wanted to study medicine.

According to a history paper published for the National Medical Journal of India (NMJI), a publication of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, it was realized that because female students had to receive education in co-educational college classes for men,” Indian women “of the right kind and class” did not turn out in sufficient numbers to become doctors.

“Only 89 women were receiving medical training in the medical colleges of Madras, Bombay, Calcutta and Lahore at that time. Among them, 73 were Christians and 9 were Parsees or Jews,” states the diary written by Dr. NN Mathur, former Director of Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC).

It was then decided by Lady Hardinge that the capital’s first medical school would be opened in Delhi – and exclusively for women. A 50-acre piece of land near Shahjahanabad, adjacent to the village of Raisina, where Rashtrapati Bhawan is now located, was selected for the construction of the hospital.

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On March 17, 1914, the foundation stone for the medical school was laid by Lady Hardinge and the college was named Queen Mary College and Hospital in honor of Queen Mary, wife of King George V. The training school nurses was to bear the name of Lady Hardinge. and the medical school had to be affiliated with a recognized university. “After the foundation stone ceremony, Lady Hardinge became actively involved in raising funds for the college from the Princely States and the public. Maharaja of Jaipur, Maharaja of Patiala, Nizam of Hyderabad, Maharaja of Baroda and many others have contributed,” Dr Mathur said.

Rs 1 lakh has been spent on the construction of the outpatient department. The architects of the building were MM. Begg and Glenn and the construction contract was awarded to a certain Sardar Narain Singh. It took almost two years for construction to be completed.

Prior to launch, Lady Hardinge died on 11 July 1914 and, at Queen Mary’s suggestion, the college and hospital were named in her honour.

According to the hospital’s website, the college and hospital were officially opened by Lord Hardinge, then Viceroy of India, on February 17, 1916, a few days before he left India.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Mathur said Lord Hardinge also later said in his memoirs that opening the Lady Hardinge Medical College and Women’s Hospital was his most satisfying achievement as Viceroy. The inaugural ceremony was attended by the Maharajas of Gwalior, Bikaner, Patiala, Jhind and Kota, General Baber Shumsher Jung Rana Bahadur of Nepal, the hospital committee and the viceroy’s staff.

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The college was started under the leadership of Dr. Kate Platt, the first principal of the college and also managed the internal management and council of the college.

According to Dr. Mathur, at the time of the inauguration, it was decided to get grants of Rs 1 lakh per annum from the Government of India, Rs 20,000 from the Countess of Dufferin’s fund and Rs 3,500 from the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir for recurring purposes. spent. “The Countess of Dufferin’s fund council had started a medical service for women all over India and at the time was providing medical aid to women and children in India,” Dr Mathur said.

Initially, the duration of the MBBS course covered a period of seven years, including two years of pre-medical intermediate science courses. However, the premedical science departments were closed in 1935, thus reducing the college course from seven years to five years. In 1960, a rotating course was introduced for six months.

According to the LHMC website, the MBBS course was reduced from five years to four and a half years in 1969, and with it a compulsory one-year internship was introduced. The number of freshman admissions was gradually increased from 16 per year in 1916 to 60 in 1956. In 1961 admissions were increased to 100 and were further increased to 130 in 1970.

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Until the 1980s, only female patients were allowed to be examined in the hospital, but later men were also allowed.

The hospital also remained the sole medical college until 1958, after which other medical colleges including Maulana Azad Medical College were established.

To implement the Central Education Institutions (Admission Reservation) Act 2006, LHMC increased the number of undergraduate admissions to 150 in 2008 and 200 now. Since 1950, the college has been affiliated with the University of Delhi. Postgraduate courses were started in 1954 in affiliation with the University of the Punjab and later with the University of Delhi.

According to the NMJI newspaper, when the college and hospital were launched, the building consisted of three blocks – a central block and two science blocks on each side: “The central block consisted of a large amphitheater – the Convocation Hall , a library that was there until 1989 when it was moved to a new building, a museum, offices and rooms for students and faculty. This block had the main entrance to the college with a sun clock on top The Convocation Hall in the Central Block was once visited by Gandhi where he addressed the students, who had invited him during the Satyagraha movement.Students spun khadi thread with their taklis (spinning wheels) in the hall .


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