The coming of the British in India marked the entry of 'modern' science and technology in the country and the beginning of the subjugation of traditional scientific systems. The British, in fact, used science and technology as a tool for maintaining and expanding the Empire. Again this background, Dr. Anil Kumar unravels the political linkages and sociological interactions between Western medical science and the British Empire, focusing on the period 1835-1911.
The author traces the introduction and spread of medical education including the dissemination of homeopathy, and examines the underlying imperial motives and expediencies. He discusses various issues such as the nature and growth of the hospital system and pharmacies; the various kinds of medical services which were set up in India to cater to the needs of the imperial masters; the racial discrimination practiced against Indians in various spheres and the crucial question of the Indianization of the medical services.
Based on this analysis, Dr. Kumar demonstrates that British medical policy in India was clearly subservient to the politico-military needs of the Empire and that it was another tool of economic imperialism. This is evident from the neglect of medical research, the inadequate provision of hospital facilities, the lackadaisical attitude towards pharmacies and drug manufacturing, and, above all, the unabated recurrence of epidemics throughout the nineteenth century.
In conclusion, the author provides a contemporary critique of the imperialist - nationalist debate on research in medicine as also outlines the course of action the British ought to have taken to ameliorate suffering in India. With its broad sweep, this book will interest historians, political scientists, sociologists, and those involved in studying the interface between science, technology and society.
About the Author:
Anil Kumar is a Reader in the Department of History at Satyawati College, Delhi University.
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