Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tracing the history of Gosha Hospital at Triplicane


Triplicane houses century old specialty hospital for women famously known as ‘Gosha Hospital-  named after Kasturba Gandhi,  the wife of Gandhiji.  One needs to go back to the history of the Nation, the State and of the locality to understand the significance of this hospital.  This hospital has its main  entrance near the Bharathi Salai [earlier Pycrofts Road] side near Triplicane Bus Terminus and the other side at Bells Road [Babu Jagajivan Ram road]

Triplicane boasts of many historic places laced with spiritualism.  The name Triplicane derived from ‘Thiruvallikkeni’ – the famous pond of Sri Parthasarathi Swami known as ‘Allikkeni – meaning the lily pond – prefix of Thiru added to denote its religious significance.  The temple tank known as ‘kairavini’ boasted of beautiful lily and lotus blooms – not any longer.   In Triplicane lived many great patriots,freedom fighters and many famous people  including Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathiyar, Thirumeyyam S. Sathyamurthi, Mathematician S Ramanujam,  Nobel Laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, and more.  

In 1600s, Triplicane was a separate village. After about a century, British found Triplicane to be a good area for settlement and a large number of people moved there. In 1668, Triplicane was annexed to the Madras City.  In the early 20th century, Triplicane became one of the major residential areas of Madras. In 1841, Ice House was built to store the ice bars imported from America through ships. Ice bars were imported to provide the English a temporary relief from the blistering heat.  In mid-19th century, numerous educational institutions were formed in the area. Hindu Higher Secondary School was started in 1853 and Presidency College in 1864-65.  Queen Mary’s College, NKT Girls High School, Lady Willington School, NKT Boys High School are some of the age old educational institutions in the area. 

Kasturba Mohandas Gandhi (born Kasturba Makhanji)(1869 – 1944)  was the wife of  Father of the Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, marrying him in an arranged marriage in 1882.  Born to wealthy businessman Gokuladas Kapadia of Porbandar, Kasturba was arranged to be married to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Both were thirteen years old at their wedding.  Working closely with her husband, Kasturba Gandhi became a political activist fighting for civil rights and Indian independence from the British.  In South Africa, during the 1913 protest against working conditions for Indians in South Africa, Kasturba was arrested and sentenced to three months in a hard labor prison.  Back at home, she taught hygiene, discipline, reading and writing.

In 1944, she breathed her last while imprisoned at Aga Khan Palace in Pune. 

According to the Indian Encyclopaedia -  a Gosha or a Gosha woman is one who follows the Islamic law of concealing herself from the sight of men, except certain close relatives. It considers it a word derived from the Hindustani language, it is a synonym for women kept in purdah, used in southern India.   History of Deccan mentions that until lady doctors arrived in 1884, gosha women of Hyderabad State were at the mercy of unqualified health practitioners.  The Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children of Chennai was earlier called The  Royal Victoria Caste and Gosha Hospital.  As it served the muslim women in purdah, the hospital acquired the name ‘Gosha hospital’ which has come to stay though officially it is ‘Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children’.    This hospital was founded in 1885 has rendered 125 years of service for the Women by the Women.

The history of the hospital records that the  idea to start a hospital entirely for women who were unwilling to go to hospital run by men germinated in January 1885 but the meeting held under the presidency of Her Excellency Lady Grant Dufferin on 6th March 1885 along with eminent persons of yore like Kasturi Bashyam Iyengar, Diwan Bahadur R.Raghunatha Rao C S I, Raja of Vizianagaram, Justice Muthuswamy Iyer, Raja of Venkatgiri and Raja Sri Savalai Ramaswamy Mudaliar resolved to establish a caste & gosha hospital.   It was named after Her Majesty Queen Victoria Hospital  and was  first located at Moore’s Garden, Nungambakkam.  Madras government donated a site at Chepauk in the year 1890 and also donated a sum of Rs.10, 000 along with a year’s supply of medicines. The main building was constructed with the donation of Rs.1 Lakh by The Raja of Venkatgiri. The hospital moved to its current place in June 1890.  The Madras government took over the management of this hospital in April 1921

This century old institution was in news recently for wrong reasons -there was a very tragic incident of a 11 day old girl who was  born prematurely, died,  left unsupervised in Kasturba Gandhi hospital, and the corpse  reportedly had been partially eaten by rodents.   Relatives of the girl child gheraoed the maternity ward – the Govt later ordered an inquiry and now there reportedly has been action in cleaning the environs of many Govt hospitals in the city.  The overgrown campus and dilapidated buildings of the 127-year-old maternity hospital present a bad sight and is seemingly breeding ground for rodents, flies and mosquitoes.

The modern complex built on the Bells Road appears to be getting ready and would be opened sooner…

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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