The short history of Indian doctors in the Colonial Medical Service, British East Africa
Anna Greenwood and Harshad Topiwala
Histories of the Colonial Medical Service have considered the European Medical Officers forming their elites and also the subsidiary auxiliary staff who provided supporting healthcare provision. No research has, however, taken account of the Indian ‘middle-men’ who were also relied upon in many parts of the African Empire to provide healthcare to local communities. These men, despite being of lesser rank in the colonial hierarchy, were qualified in western medicine and undertook duties identical to their European superiors. The policy of recruiting Indians abruptly stopped however in 1923. This chapter discusses why this happened and argues that part of the reason for the definite, if surreptitious, policy to squeeze Indians out of government medical positions was that it did not fit in with the public image the British government wanted to portray from the 1920s onwards. As such, the authors show that the Colonial Medical Service was not always the white organisation that most histories have assumed.