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When the postman knocked...

REFERRING TO my mention of the first Indian woman doctors in the Madras Presidency (Miscellany, January 21), reader C.A.Reddi writes that of the first three Indian LMS's, Rose Govindurajulu, "my grand-aunt, should be considered the first woman from Madras to pass out of Madras Medical College."

He adds that she was in the second batch, which passed out in 1887. Which leaves behind a mystery to which I wonder whether anyone has an answer.

The first batch of women students entered MMC in 1875 and passed out in 1878. There were three Anglo-Indians, the Misses White, who topped the batch, Beck and Mitchell and an Englishwoman, Mary Scharleib, wife of the Chief Presidency Magistrate, who went on to become the first woman M.D. of London University and a major figure in the Indian and British medical worlds. The mystery is why there were five years at MMC when there were no women students. In fact, the second batch entered the College eight years after the first batch!

The second batch, which had the three Indian women, included five Anglo-Indians and a Burgher from Ceylon, Alice Van Ingen, who topped the batch.

Van Ingen went on to become the first woman M.B.B.S. of the Madras University.

S. MUTHIAH

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