Kamala Sohonie

On June 18, the 112th birth anniversary of Kamala Sohonie was celebrated, recognizing her groundbreaking contributions as the first Indian woman in a scientific discipline. Sohonie’s journey was marked by determination and resilience as she overcame gender biases to make significant strides in the field of science. 

Early Life and Education 

Kamala Sohonie, who was born in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in 1911, came from a lineage of chemists. Following in her father and uncle’s footsteps, who were chemists themselves, Sohonie pursued her education in chemistry and physics. Graduating from Bombay University in 1933, she excelled in her studies, topping the merit list. 

The Encounter with CV Raman 

Driven by her aspirations, Sohonie sought admission to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, under the leadership of CV Raman. However, Raman dismissed her application, expressing his reluctance to admit women into the institute. Undeterred by this setback, Sohonie confronted Raman directly, challenging his bias and vowing to prove herself. 

Overcoming Obstacles 

Although Raman eventually allowed Sohonie to join, he imposed several conditions on her, including being a non-regular student and prolonged probation. Despite these challenges, Sohonie completed her course with distinction, leading Raman to change his opinion about admitting women to the institute. 

PhD and Research Focus 

Sohonie’s academic journey continued at Cambridge University in England, where she earned her PhD in just 14 months. Her scientific investigation centered around potatoes and resulted in the identification of the enzyme ‘Cytochrome C,’ which plays a crucial role in the process of cellular respiration.

Promoting Neera for Health 

Returning to India in 1939, Sohonie made significant contributions to public health. She conducted studies on neera, a palm extract, on the suggestion of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first Indian President. Her research highlighted neera’s nutritional benefits, including being a rich source of Vitamin C. Sohonie worked tirelessly to popularize this drink, especially among malnourished tribal children and pregnant women, improving their overall health. 

Contributions to the Aarey Milk Project 

Sohonie’s expertise extended beyond her academic pursuits. She collaborated with the administration of the Aarey Milk project to enhance the quality of milk produced. Her involvement aimed to improve the nutritional value and overall standards of the project. 

Founding Member of Consumer Guidance Society 

Apart from her scientific accomplishments, Sohonie was also among the founding members of the Consumer Guidance Society. This organization played a vital role in protecting consumer rights and ensuring fair practices in the market. 



1 Comment

  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho

    June 20, 2023 at 10:54 pm

    Kamala Sohonie is an inspiration.


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