Between the bazaar and the bench: Making of the drugs trade in Colonial India, ca. 1900–1930

Nandini Bhattacharya (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)
    267 Downloads (Pure)


    This article analyzes why adulteration became a key trope of the Indian drug market. Adulteration had a pervasive presence, being present in medical discourses, public opinion and debate, and the nationalist claim for government intervention. The article first situates the roots of adulteration in the composite nature of this market, which involved the availability of drugs of different potencies as well as the presence of multiple layers of manufacturers, agents, and distributors. It then shows that such a market witnessed the availability of drugs of diverse potency and strengths, which were understood as elements of adulteration in contemporary medical and official discourse. Although contemporary critics argued that the lack of government legislation and control allowed adulteration to sustain itself, this article establishes that the culture of the dispensation of drugs in India necessarily involved a multitude of manufacturer–retailers, bazaar traders, and medical professionals practicing a range of therapies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-91
    Number of pages31
    JournalBulletin of the History of Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


    • Adulteration
    • Ayurveda
    • Bazaar medicine
    • Colonial India
    • Drugs enquiry committee
    • Drugs trade
    • Indigenous drugs
    • Medical market

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History
    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • General Nursing


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