The princess who built AIIMS: Rajkumari Amrit Kaur
Source https://vajiramias.com/

The princess who built AIIMS: Rajkumari Amrit Kaur

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“A princess of the Kapurthala princely state, a student at Oxford University, a devout follower of Mahatma Gandhi, and an important member of the Constituent Assembly, Kaur was all of this and much more.…

The pages of history celebrate Amrit Kaur’s determination to drive out the British, her feminist zeal, and also the many contributions she had made to the health infrastructure of the country.

It is true that AIIMS came to be under the Nehru government. However, the real driving force behind it was Rajkumari Amrit Kaur.

On February 18, 1956, the then minister of health, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, introduced a new bill in the Lok Sabha. She had no speech prepared. But she spoke from her heart. “It has been one of my cherished dreams that for post graduate study and for the maintenance of high standards of medical education in our country, we should have an institute of this nature which would enable our young men and women to have their post graduate education in their own country,” she said.

The creation of a major central institute for post-graduate medical education and research had been recommended by the Health survey of the government of India, a decade ago in 1946. Though the idea was highly appreciated, money was a concern. It took another 10 years for Kaur to collect adequate funds, and lay the foundation of India’s number one medical institute and hospital.

Kaur’s speech in the Lok Sabha sparked a vigorous debate in the house over the nature of the institute. But the bill moved fast, gaining the approval of members of both the houses, and by May that year, the motion was adopted.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was born. “I want this to be something wonderful, of which India can be proud, and I want India to be proud of it,” said Kaur, as the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha.

In the past few months, as India has been battling a global pandemic, the role of the country’s apex medical body has come under discussion on several occasions. Significantly, it is the first prime minister of the country, Jawahar Lal Nehru, who is credited for the heights reached by AIIMS. It is true that AIIMS came to be under the Nehru government. However, the real driving force behind it was Kaur.

A princess of the Kapurthala princely state, a student at Oxford University, a devout follower of Mahatma Gandhi, and an important member of the Constituent Assembly, Kaur was all of this and much more. Members of her family like to remember her as someone who believed in simple living and high thinking. The pages of history, on the other hand, celebrates her determination to drive out the British, her feminist zeal, and also the many contributions she had made to the health infrastructure of the country.

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