On Sunday, alumni, dating to the first batch, will get together at alma mater

Did you know Government Kilpauk Medical College was set up solely for women?

It was designed on the lines of Lady Hardinge Medical College for Women in Delhi. But a series of protests by the women students forced the then State government to turn it into a co-educational institution on the lines of Madras Medical College and Stanley Medical College.

The origins of the college date to 1925, when the Raja of Panagal, pleased with the services of his personal physician Srinivasamurthi, donated the land now housing the college and hospital. And a School of Indian Medicine was set up.

Subsequently, in 1948, the government introduced an integrated course, including allopathic system. Students had to study allopathy compulsorily along with Ayurveda, Siddha or Unani systems.

The college underwent several name changes until in 1953 it came to be known as College of Integrated Medicine.

Paediatric gastroenterologist V.S. Shankaranarayanan, who joined the college in 1956, said a third of the students in his class opted for Indian medicine. By the time his batch graduated, the government had introduced a diploma in medicine and surgery and MBBS.

Students had to forgo 18 months of their study to join the MBBS course, or continue with the diploma.

Around 300 students who continued like him later took a condensed MBBS course offered at Chengalpet Medical College to graduate as full-fledged MBBS doctors.

In 1965, the college was converted into a women’s medical college.

Two years later, the women students began protesting, appealing to the government that the college be converted into a co-educational institution.

Shanthi Vijayalakshmi, of the 1966-71 batch, and Tahera Begum, former head of forensic medicine at MMC, said over 100 women students petitioned the then education and health ministers as the medicos had difficulty examining male patients.

“We had inhibitions about examining male patients. We had to depend on the ‘ayahs’ and senior nurses. MMC and Stanley admitted men so we demanded KMC also follow suit,” said Dr. Shanthi.

The girls went on a procession twice, from Marina beach to the Secretariat, to attract the government’s attention. It took four years for the government to change its mind. Finally, when Dr. Begum was in her final year in 1971-72, the college began admitting boys.

On Sunday, the alumni will meet in the college to dedicate themselves to social activities. “The meet is titled ‘Vizhudugal’ to denote the roots of the banyan tree which stands at the heart of the college,” said Prasad Manne, joint secretary of the alumni association.

After the cyclone last year, the alumni funded the conservation of the tree.

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