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What Is a Pharmacist? Professionalisation and Praxis of Dispensing in Modern India


· Nandini Bhattacharya University of Dundee (Dundee, United Kingdom)


07/26 | 18:10-18:30 UTC+2/CEST


What is a pharmacist? Professionalisation and praxis of dispensing in modern India The palimpsest of the western development of medical professions (and thereby marginalizing untrained or informal practitioners) cannot be fitted to the Indian context of modern India. This paper will query the process of professionalisation of pharmacy as well as medical practice itself in India, and argue that the practice of medicine, dispensing and even minor surgery were indistinguishable in colonial India so far as practitioners of both western and indigenous medicine were concerned. Therefore the institutionalisation of the academic discipline of pharmacy in 20th century India (distinguishing it from the more general study of pharmacology/materia medica in the 19th century) had little impact on the informal consultation/dispensing of biomedicine. This was complicated by the practice of qualified doctors who attached themselves informally to distinct retail establishments and even conducted medical practice from within their premises. Even when the profession of pharmacy became more firmly entrenched in independent India, the lack of legal clarity and on account of popular demand, the lines between medical practice and dispensing medicine remain blurred.