:: BACK ::

KAMAL SOHONIE (1911-1996)

Kamala Sohonie was a bio-chemist. She was born Kamala Bhagwatand graduated from Bombay University in chemistry in 1933, topping the university merit list. However, C.V. Raman, the renowned physicist, denied her admission to postgraduate course in chemistry at the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) on the ground that she was a woman. When Sohonie confronted him, he reluctantly agreed to take her on probation; he did not believe she could do research and felt she would disturb the male scientists. At the age of 82, she recounted this incident to the members of the Indian Women Scientists’ Association (IWSA) who had gathered to felicitate her at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in 1997. ‘Though Raman was a great scientist, he was very narrow-minded. Other women such as Anna Mani (q.v.) and K. Sunanda Bai also faced prejudice and hostility from him.

Kamala recounted to the members of the IWSA, ‘I can never forget the way [Raman] treated me just because I was a woman.’ She completed her course with distinction and was admitted to Cambridge University for doctoral research in 1936, where she worked under the Nobel laureate Fredrick Hopkins and went on to make one of the fundamental discoveries in plant biochemistry: that all plants have a common protein binding mechanism. This made her the first Indian woman to get a doctorate in science. She returned to Indian and set up the biochemistry department at Lady Harding Medical College, Delhi. Later she became the assistant director of Nutritional Research Laboratory at Coonoor. Her last assignment was to set up the biochemistry department at the Institute of Science in Mumbai, after which she became the director of the Institute. She headed it for the next two decades. However, the early discrimination she had faced continued to rankle in her mind, and it was only late in life that she got the recognition she deserved.
Contents are copyright of STREE SHAKTI 2009-2024
Designed by www.avsolutions.in