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Anandi Gopal Joshi – First Indian Woman to Become a Physician

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About Anandi Gopal Joshi

Anandi Gopal Joshi also is known as Anandibai Joshi is the first Indian woman to become a physician.  Recently a movie named Anandi Gopal was made on her depicting all the sacrifices she went through to achieve her short term success.

Early life

The Yamuna was the birth name of Anandi Joshi. She was born on 31 March 1865 in Kalyan, India. Her father was a landlord of the place where she was born.

Due to financial losses, Yamuna was forced to marry to Gopal Rao Joshi, who was a widower.

She married at the age of nine to the man who was 20 years old than her. Gopal Rao changed her name to Anandi. Gopalrao worked as a clerk in Kalyan and later shifted to Alibag and then finally to Calcutta.

Gopalrao had distinctive thinking from the people of that period, he believed in women education which was not common those days.

Those were the days where people generally didn’t care about the education of women, and having this thinking at that time was unusual.

At the age of 14, Anandi gave birth to a boy child. The boy died after 10 days due to a lack of medical care. This incident encouraged Anandi to become a physician. 

Her study and career

Women education was not common those days, and being a progressive thinker Gopalrao believed in women empowerment.

He forced Anandi to study further. He sent her for admission to various missionary schools. Her husband was so obsessed with her studies that one day she beat her for not studying and cooking food with her grandmother.

Gopal Rao wrote a letter to a missionary school in the United States and asked them if Anandi could pursue her career in medical. He also inquired for a suitable job for himself in the US so as to accompany her for her later studies.

Gopal Rao was transferred to West Bengal and couldn’t accompany Anandi for her future studies, but he ensured and supported Anandi for studying in the US.

While the couple was in Calcutta, Anandi’s health started declining; she felt weakness, constant headaches and occasional fever. She received her medicines from Theodicia but seemed to have no result. Her health kept declining, but still her decision to study medical stood firm.

She went to America to study her medical. She addressed the community at Semapore hall, explaining the need for female doctors in India. She mentioned that a Hindu woman would better be able to serve the other Hindu woman. She received financial contributions from all over India for her speech.

Her journey in the United States

Anandi travelled to New York from Calcutta. She wrote a letter to Women’s medical college of Pennsylvania asking permission for studying in their college. Rachel Bodley who was the dean of the college enrolled her.

She began her medical career at the age of 19. There she developed tuberculosis. Her health worsened due to unfamiliar weather and food. She graduated with MD in March 1886. On completing her graduation she received a congratulatory message from Queen Victoria.

Eventually, Gopalrao also shifted to America, but he was completely unaware of her completing her graduation.

Later in the year 1886, Anandibai returned to India with her husband. She was appointed as a physician-in-charge in Albert Edward Hospital in the princely state of Kolhapur.

Death and legacy

She died the next year of completing her graduation. She was weakened and suffered various headaches and fewer from tuberculosis before her death. On 26 Feb 1887, she died of tuberculosis. Her death was grieved all over India. She featured a short term success and her death was the most mournful one. Her ashes were sent to Theodicia Carpenter who placed them at her family cemetery at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery in Poughkeepsie, New York. Inscriptions on her cemetery state that she was a Hindu bramhin girl and the first India woman to pursue her career in the medical field.

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