Tag Archives: India

Remembering Tabitha Solomon,the first Indian woman dentist

About a year back when I just became a fresh graduate in Dental Surgery I read a fascinating story about Anandi Gopal Joshi, who became the first Indian woman to graduate with a degree in medicine in the United States. In the same year (1886)  Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu obtained the same degree in India and thus became the first two female graduates from India and the entire British Empire.

This piqued my interest in knowing about the first pioneer Indian woman in my field of study. So who was the first Indian woman to graduate with a degree in dentistry?

A quick search over the internet and talking to few people yielded absolutely nothing. Except for the fact that Fatima Jinnah, one of the founders of modern Pakistan and sister of  Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the first woman graduate in India, who obtained her degree from  Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College in the year 1923.

Though the country was undivided at the time of her graduation,this obviously didn’t satisfy my quest to find the first true Indian woman dental surgeon. So over the next few months I started doing my own research to find that elusive woman and to know her story. And after a lot of work and checking and cross checking references, finding sources, and talking to people who knew her, I bring you the fascinating unknown story of India’s first woman dentist- Dr. Tabitha Solomon.

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Dr. Tabitha Solomon in her younger days (c. 1926)

Born in 1901 in a Jewish family from Calcutta, she graduated from the Calcutta Dental College and Hospital in 1928. Founded by the legendary Dr. Rafiuddin Ahmed in 1920, Dr. Solomon was the first Indian female graduate of the college.

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Tabitha Solomon’s Dental Certification signed by Dr.R. Ahmed

At that time Jewish women were well-educated and played important roles in their families and in the community. Many were professionals and were highly trained in numerous fields. She assisted Dr. R. Ahmed with the Calcutta Dental Journal and started a dental clinic in the Chittarnjan Seva Sadan Hospital and also served in the Dufferin Hospital. She served in both these institutions in an honorary capacity. As a pioneer woman of her times Dr. Solomon served on several Jewish community committees including WIZO, Calcutta Jewish Association and also a multicultural Calcutta Women’s Committee.

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Dr.Tabitha Solomon- India’s first woman dentist (c. 1929)
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Dr.Solomon with her son (c. 1956)

This is the story of a woman far ahead of her time. A story forgotten but a woman worth remembering.

Note: This post would not have been possible without the support of Dr. Jael Silliman and Mr. Charles Solomon. All images used in this post are the exclusive property of Charles Solomon, and is not to be reproduced without prior permission.

Book Review: Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy

It was then that I realised I was old enough to know fairy tales were not true

61oAnsSzm0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015, and hailed as one of the most anticipated novel of the year, Anuradha Roy’s “Sleeping On Jupiter” disappoints on many levels.

The story runs a number of parallel tracks, primarily with Nomita Frederikson, who visits a holy town called Jarmuli in search of her buried past and coming to terms with her childhood which haunts her in an attempt to sort out the fact from fiction. Suraj, her work partner who’s also dealing with life’s issue and who looks lost throughout the novel. Then there are 3 senior women who travels together for the first and probably the last time together. Also playing a part is temple guide Badal, who’s ill fated and torrid affair with Raghu forms another sub-plot. Tea stall owner Johnny Toppo, who sings a mysterious folk song and vehemently refuses to revisit his past.

The book tries to do too much in too little. Some of the character build-ups are good, especially the central character of Nomi. While others seem as lost as their lives. The book is at times directionless with the reader having no clue about who to connect with and what.Although some of the passages are brilliant, overall it failed to excite me. The author, it seemed had very little plot to develop this into a full fledged novel.

Maybe I would have been less disappointed if I had picked this book up randomly. But with the expectations I had from this one it was certainly not more worth than 2 Stars!