ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Manifesto for Federal Debate

and Delhi, there is every reason to suppose that similar debates should have taken place in Bengal also. Take for example smallpox. The municipal commissioners in Madras by the turn of the century faced enormous dif- fkultics in building an isolation hospital for treating smallpox patients. The problem was not just one of finding sufficient funds for constructing the hospital but it was also one of convincing themselves about the usefulness of such a hospital. Take as another example the discovery of anopheles mosquito by Ronald Ross as the malaria-carrying vector. Not only among the policy-makers in the Madras government, but even among the medical authorities in Britain, there was an intense debate on the usefulness of adopting measures suggested by Ross based on his ex periments in Africa. The details of such debates as they took place in Bengal will throw a lot of light on disease-specific policies and why the public health policy in Bengal was not a success. To put it differently, we would like to know more about specific ideas and perceptions of the policymakers in the Bengal government and how they contributed to the development of western medicine in Bengal. It is not clear as to why the author (having stayed in England during the period of her research) has not used the material available at the India Office Records (at London) and the private papers of eminent medical men like Ronald Ross who in many ways shaped the medical policy in colonial India, The value of the book would have been enhanced had the author devoted some space on the following points which have great relevance to the nature of medical policy in colonial India: (a) A b, icf analysis of the financial allocation for medical care in Bengal, since the author cites the lack of funds as an important constraint for the slow diffusion Of western medicine. The reader also does not get a picture of the growth of hospitals and the policies that governedd them with respect to admission of patients, fee for various services they offered, populations they covered, etc. In a study of this nature, it is also necessary to give a picture of the history of the health department in Bengal and the distribution of responsibilities and decision-making power within the department. It would be interesting to know in what way the priorities of the department were influenced as a result of the increasing representation of Indians in the Indian Medical Service, (b) What was the role of traditional midwives and the government's attempts to organise the profession of nursing? As early as 1829, the Hospital Nurses institute was formed in Calcutta, and by the end of the century efforts were made in different parts of India to train nurses and midwives with the help of Lady Duffrin's Fund and the Association of Hospital Matrons, (c) Bengal of the 19th century (particularly Calcutta city and its neighbourhood) had perhaps the largest number of followers of homoeopathic medicine, and it also saw a large number of converts from other systems of medicine. It is claimed that Bengali physicians espoused homoeopathy with remarkable zeal and that by the middle of 19th century "homoeopathy passed through a process of naturalisation in the Indian socio-economic milieu.. ."[1]. How did that happen? How did the state react to it? How is it that by the turn of the century homoeopathy lost its appeal and waned? It is necessary to discuss these issues in order to understand better "the competition and accommodation'' between various medical groups.

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