A lot of Indian scientists and physicians have made notable contributions and breakthroughs in their respective fields. Some of them have received appropriate recognition, but a lot of the works haven’t when it comes to the international community. This is a sad part of many success stories, but what is pathetic is when the people of their own country failed to give appropriate recognition to their historic works. One such victim is Dr Subhash Mukhopadhyay (16 January 1931 – 19 June 1981), who was an Indian scientist, physician from Hazaribagh, Bihar (now in Jharkhand), India. He created the world’s second and India’s first child using in-vitro fertilization, named, Kanupriya Agarwal (Durga), who was born in 1978, just 67 days after the first IVF baby in the United Kingdom. Not only this, but he had also brought in significant original contributions to the technique. This was recognized by The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) only in 2005, nearly three decades after the breakthrough.
(1) the first in the world to use hormones to stimulate ovaries to make extra eggs,
(2) the first to harvest oocytes (eggs) through (a relatively easy) transvaginal route,
(3) and, the first to freeze and thaw human embryos before transplanting them into a woman’s uterus.
Dr. Mukhopadhyay did his graduation, i.e., MBBS, (in 1955) with an honors degree in physiology from the Calcutta National Medical College. He did a double doctorate (Ph.D.), the first of which was from the Rajabazar Science College campus of the University of Calcutta in 1958 in ‘Reproductive Physiology’ under the stewardship of Prof. Sachchidananda Banerjee, while the second one was from the University of Edinburgh in 1967 in ‘Reproductive Endocrinology’. It was when working with Sunit Mukherji, a Cryobiologist and Gynecologist Dr. Saroj Kanti Bhattacharya, that he created history. Although his breakthrough was on 3 October 1978, he did not get recognition from his colleagues and the government rather got seriously ridiculed. He was initially transferred from Kolkata to Bankura, also in the ophthalmology department, such that he could not continue with his research and success.
He started developing serious heart conditions and he came back to Kolkata, where he had to struggle a lot with his work. It is said that he was not even allowed to attend an international conference in Japan, where he was invited to share his scientific proceedings. Reaching the lowest of his mental state, he committed suicide in his own house in Kolkata on 19 June 2020, exactly 42 years back from today. More than a decade after this, in 1990, an award-winning film, named, ‘Ek Doctor Ki Maut’, was made by noted Bengali director Tapan Sinha, featuring star actors like Pankaj Kapur, Shabana Azmi, and Irrfan Khan.
After his death, his work was published much later by Dr. T. C. Anand, Director of IRR (ICMR) in 1997. Dr, T.C. Anand initially got the official credit for this achievement. In 1997, he went to attend the Indian Science Congress in Kolkata, where he was handed over the papers of Dr. Mukhopadhyay. It was because of Dr. Anand, Dr. Mukhopadhyay was formally introduced in ICMR as the architect of the first Indian test tube baby. On her 25th birthday, Kanupriya Agarwal first spoke about her creator in front of the media in 2003.In the memory of such a tragic end of a legendary doctor and scientist because of ostracism, bureaucratic negligence, reprimand and insult of him and his research, instead of recognition, on his death anniversary.