Colonial Challenges and Indigenous Resilience: Indigenous Colonial Medical System in Colonial Delhi and the Battle for Scientific Status,1883-1921

in Published Volumes


Priya Salam
Independent Researcher


Abstract:: :In the late nineteenth century, Delhi, then part of colonial Punjab, boasted a range of
medical institutions, including the lunatic asylum, lock hospital, Delhi Civil Hospital, dispensaries
at Lal Kuan, Sadar Bazar, Ballabgarh, Faridabad, Najafgarh, Mehrauli, and missionary hospitals
for women and children. All of them adhered to modern healthcare standards. Strikingly, despite
official records like the 1884 and 1912 gazetteers for the district, published by the Punjab
government, which briefly mentioned the Tibbia School specializing in imparting Unani medicine in
a hundred-word paragraph, there is no mention of indigenous healthcare facilities in the region.
This omission in official documentations underscores the challenges faced by traditional medical
practices during the colonial period.The current paper, therefore, seeks to explore the historical
aspects of how traditional medical knowledge and practices were taught and followed within
colonial Delhi during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It places particular emphasis
on Unani medicine’s relative success while also examining the state’s efforts to undermine
indigenous healing practices in favour of modern medicine.

Key Words:Ayurvedic, Colonial Delhi, Hospital, Unani, Western Medicine etc.