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Honoring Muthulakshmi Reddi – India’s first woman surgeon, Padma Bhushan awardee


Devdiscourse News Desk Chennai
Updated: 30-07-2019 18:50 IST
Honoring Muthulakshmi Reddi – India’s first woman surgeon, Padma Bhushan awardee

The government of Tamil Nadu has declared Muthulakshmi Reddi’s birthday, July 30 as ‘Hospital Day’ to be celebrated every year starting 2019 to honor her contributions to the field of science. Image Credit: Google doodle

A woman was born in Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu on this day, July 30 in 1886, who later became India's first female legislator. Her name is Muthulakshmi Reddi. Her contribution to the medical field and service to the country before and after India's Independence made her a Padma Bhushan winner by the central government in 1956.

Google today remembers Muthulakshmi Reddi, the eminent medical practitioner, a surgeon, social reformer and Padma Bhushan awardee on her 133rd birthday with a very inspiring doodle. She had many 'firsts' to her recognition. She was the first female student to be admitted into a men's college, the first woman legislator in British India, the first woman House Surgeon in the Government Maternity and Ophthalmic Hospital, the first Alderwoman of the Madras Corporation Avvai Home, the first woman Deputy President of the Legislative Council and the first Chairperson of the State Social Welfare Advisory Board.

The government of Tamil Nadu has declared Muthulakshmi Reddi's birthday, July 30 as 'Hospital Day' to be celebrated every year starting 2019 to honor her contributions to the field of science. She is the founding leader of the Cancer Institute (WIA) aka Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai. The institute became the Regional Cancer Centre and declared as a 'Centre of Excellence' by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 1974.

Muthulakshmi Reddi continued receiving education (by resisting her parent's plan for an early marriage), completed higher education and took admission in the medical profession during the starting of 20th century when the society had various constraints for the girls and women. She joined the Madras Medical College in 1907 where she achieved a brilliant academic record. She graduated in 1912 with several golden accolades and became one of the first woman doctors in India. She also came under the influence of Theosophical Society's one member, Annie Besant followed by Mahatma Gandhi. She also came across Sarojini Naidu during her college years. She married a doctor named Sundara Reddi in 1914 on the understanding that he treated her as an equal.

Muthulakshmi Reddi also went to England to accomplish higher studies. She was concerned about the orphans, especially girls. She arranged for them free boarding and lodging and started the Avvai Home in Chennai. She was successful in passing legislation to establish a special hospital for women and children. She became the president of the All-India Women's Conference. She never gave up giving the effort to pass the bill for the suppression of brothels and immoral trafficking in children and women and finally, she successfully did it. Even she created a home for girls and women who were rescued from prostitution.

Muthulakshmi Reddi is also remembered for recommending the government to raise the minimum age for marriage to 16 and 21 for girls and boys respectively. She died on July 22, 1968 just eight days before completing 82. She was physically and mentally highly energetic and vibrant. She continued serving the country until the end of her life. Google pays tribute to the great doctor today on her 133rd birthday.

Also Read: Muthulakshmi Reddi: 'Hospital Day' celebration on Cancer Institute's founder's birthday