Monday, March 30, 2009

Caring for animals

The earliest veterinarians to qualify in India had their training on the banks of the Adayar, because that's where the Farm School was located. That school went on to become the Agricultural College and in 1876, the College, deciding that veterinary science needed its own specialised course, began offering a 2-year diploma course in that faculty. Madras once again led the field, in the sense of creating the specialty, but it took the city 27 years to upgrade that scheme of instruction to a proper college, with a 3-year course leading to the diploma. In the meantime, the veterinary colleges at Lahore, Bombay and Calcutta had gone ahead with their diploma programmes.

When scouting around for a suitable location for the college, Veterinary Major WD Gunn, the Superintendent of the Veterinary Department, was offered use of hospital donated by the Raja Venugopal Kishan Bahadur to them, by the SPCA. Under the terms of their agreement, that hospital could be used as a teaching hospital, but there was to be no change in its name - an arrangement that continues to this day. Major Gunn requested for and was allowed use of Dobbin Hall, a little way across the road from the RVKB Hospital for Animals, as the premises of the Madras Veterinary College. Thus, the Madras Veterinary College enrolled its first batch of 20 students in 1903.

The early start that the institution had was not entirely in vain. In 1930, a Royal Commission recommended that one of the veterinary colleges in India be upgraded and allowed to offer a degree in veterinary science, rather than just a diploma. For three years, a government Commission went around inspecting the all the colleges in the country before awarding that honour to the Madras Veterinary College. But it was only in 1936, when 50 students were admitted to the degree programme, that the Madras Veterinary College become the first in the country to award degrees in veterinary medicine - see, you just can't keep that first away!


6 comments:

Hilda said...

Wow. That's fantastic architecture for a veterinary school!

Shantaram said...

@ Hilda: Yes and this building was added in 1904!

bitterscotch said...

Im still baffled at how you manage to uncover someplace or the other every single day, and that too with so much of history behind it.

Btw since you travel so much, you might find the openstreetmap project interesting http://www.tinyurl.com/osmchennai
maybe you can map out your travels. and you really must have your email id somehwere for people to reach you :)

Shantaram said...

@ Arun: Hey, I did see the article about the OSM in the Hindu - and your picture too! Will check it out.

Thought I had my mail id in the blogger profile.... rshantaram (a) gmail.com

As for the 'bafflement', it is mutual - your pictures are absolutely phenomenal!

Jay said...

Major WD Gunn was my great grandfather. My 91 year old mother has a vivid memory of him, from when she was about six years old, lying on a sofa or daybed. She says that he had curly white hair and bright blue eyes.

Shantaram said...

@ Jay: Thanks for stopping by, and great to hear from you about Maj. Gunn. Blue eyes and curly white hair seem absolutely natural - that's the way I'd imagine an animal lover to be!