This biographical monograph of Muthulakshmi Reddy: A Trailblazer in Surgery and Women’s Rights takes the reader way back to Madras Presidency of over a 100 years ago. The author VR Devika writes about the indomitable spirit of a Pioneer path-creator for women – the multitalented Muthulakshmi, who had had numerous ‘FIRSTS’ to her credit. A book review by Raj Kanwar
Muthulakshmi Reddy was a trailblazer not only in surgery but also in the domain of Women’s Rights in Madras way back in the first decade of 20th Century. In a biographical monograph, the author VR Devika describes in depth the indomitable spirit of a Pioneer path-creator for women – the multitalented Muthulakshmi, who had had numerous ‘Firsts’ to her credit. Her very First was when she became the first girl student at the Maharaja’s School for Boys in Pudukkottai. Her next First came when she became the first Indian woman surgeon from Madras Medical College. It was followed by many other Firsts – the first woman member of legislature of Madras Presidency, the first woman deputy speaker and the first alderwoman.
Muthulakshmi’s mother Chandrammal wanted her to get married and settle down, but she stood her ground arguing that marriage subordinated women. Muthulakshmi finally agreed to get married. The bridegroom was Dr. Sundaram Reddy. The marriage was solemnized in April 1914.
Muthulakshmi had campaigned to get rid of “the practice of wet nurses, fought for girls’ education and widow remarriage, equal property rights, education reforms and rural healthcare for women. She was also concerned that the word ‘Devadasi’ was considered as an abusive term in Tamil. She wanted to release the girls born to Devadasis free from that curse, and give them a future devoid of such bondage. In order to improve the economic and social condition of the poor and destitute girls, Muthulakshmi also established AVVAI Home – an educational institution for Devadasis in Adyar.
After establishing her fame as a specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics, Dr. Muthulakshmi established the Cancer Institute in Adyar which is today renowned worldwide. She had also started a Cancer Relief Fund that has now grown into an all-India institution combining therapy and research on cancer, and attracting patients from all over the country. Incidentally, she also had had the rare opportunity of interacting with Mahatma Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu, Annie Besant, Kamala Chattopadhyay, K. Kamraj and several other leaders of that era.
Title: MUTHULAKSHMI REDDY; A Trailblazer in Surgery and Women’s Rights
Author: VR Devika
Publisher: NIYOGI BOOKS
Cover Price: Rs. 299/-