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The British Raj


When the British started to arrive in the early seventeenth century, along came the British ideas on civilisation and medicine (firmly grounded in Christian doctrine)

However the East India Company was keen to learn from the Vaidyas and hakims (Indian and Muslim Physicians) about the methods for treating not only diseases that were prevalent in that part of the world, but also the treatment for surgical conditions.

This is where it became apparent that Sushruta works were highly consulted. On the other side of the coin the Indian doctors were also very interested in the way that the western doctors treated their patients.

It seems to be the case that the native physicians held a great deal of respect by the local people and also by the British Ruling Class.
However the Indian surgeons were held in lesser esteem, the British Surgeons were far more accepted to the Indian ruling class.
When the Medical collages were founded under the British Raj the local Ayurveda
("the complete knowledge for long life") was given some support alongside British Medicine.
Today however the trend in the Indian medical system is to move more to Western ideas but India does provide more doctors around the world than any other country.

In the future it will be countries such as India and China that will lead the way in Medicine, the enormous populations, growing economy and the natural resource wealth of the nations will boost their standing on the world stage.

Quote 29

“You British believe in fair play,” said a Punjabi official to a young British social worker in 1947. “You have left India in the same condition of chaos as you found it.”



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