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This material has been put together from two articles by Maj Gen S K Dhawan and all copyright belongs to him and the REF.

If anyone has any more material or can add to this history page, please send it to us for incorporation. Other headings include history of radiology in different regions of the country, related to different modalities, radiation rotection, contrast media, etc. All contributions will be acknowledged.

Though Prof. W.C. Roentgen discovered the mysterious X-rays on 8th November, 1895, it is difficult to be sure as to when and where the first X-ray machine was installed in India. The late Dr. K. P. Mody had mentioned, in his editorial in the Indian Journal of Radiology & Imaging, in 1956 that the first X-ray machine was imported by a chemist in 1902 into India; that was only 7 years after the discovery.

New Delhi became the capital of India in 1912. It appears that, in Delhi the first X-ray machine was installed at Lady Hardinge Hospital in 1918, and a chair in radiology was established in 1923 at the Lady Hardinge Medical College & Hospital. After World War I, the government established a dispensary with X-ray facilities somewhere near Jama Masjid. Rai Bahadur Hari Ram started private practice in radiology along with his general practice in 1932, but exclusive radiology practice was started by Dr. S C Sen in 1933 who later became a founder member of the Indian Radiological Association (IRA). He had a 150 mA unit. Dr. Sen claimed two other "firsts" to his credit. He started deep X-ray therapy in New Delhi in 1935 with a 180 kV machine and also started group practice.

Radiology in North India further evolved at the time of partition in 1947, when a large number of medical practitioners including radiologists migrated to Delhi from Pakistan. Some of the prominent radiologists among them were Dr. Diwan Chand Agarwal, Dr. R K Handa, Dr. R C Goulatia, Dr. R M Sharma and Dr. Roshan Lal. Dr. D C Agarwal had been one of the leading radiologists in Lahore since 1927. This remarkable man laid down the foundation of a modern X-ray clinic in Delhi.

Similar advancements were taking place in the southern, western and eastern parts of India and Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai) and Calcutta grew in stature. The Barnard Institute of Radiology was established in Chennai and many radiologists who could not go abroad for training, went to Madras for their post-graduate studies.


Earlier machines were single phase self rectified x-ray machines with air-cooled rectified valves with cones and cylinders. The tables were mechanically or manually operated with crude spot film devices, etc. One was lucky to get access to a 200 or 300 mA unit. In Delhi, upto 1952, Irwin Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical college had the only well-equipped radiology departments while Safdarjung Hospital languished with only one 100 mA unit. At present, there are scores of well-equiped departments in Government and public institutions and there are over a 100 private clinics. Similarly, all the metropolitan cities have scores of well-equipped centres.

It appears that there are about ten thousand 500 mA units in India today; 100-500 mA units are about 30,000 and less than 100 mA units may be about 20,000. The annual demand for conventional x-ray machines is in the vicinity of 1500 (though it appears that demand is going down). There are about 350 CT scanners all over the country with a demand of about 50 per annum. There are about 50 MRI scanners and the anticipated demand is 20 per year.


Dr. Ajit Mohan Bose and Dr. Subodh Mitra founded the Indian Radiological Association in Calcutta in 1931 and the first meeting was held on 21 April 1931. It used to meet as a section of the Indian Medical Association. The IRA was registered in March 1937 with the registrar of Joint Stock Companies, Bengal with a mere 24 members. There was a lull in the activities of the IRA during World War II. Immediately after, Dr. P Rama Rao and Dr. K M Rai revived the association at Chennai. From 1946, the association took a firm hold and started as a coherent, cogent and cohesive association. Since then there has been no looking back and the IRA has grown from strength. From 24 members in 1931, it now has around 3500 members. In the late 80s, keeping with the times, the name was changed to Indian Radiology & Imaging Association.


The journal was started in February 1947 at Chennai, soon after the re-formation of the IRA. Dr. Rama Rao and Dr. K M Rai were the joint editors. The journal was shifted to Mumbai in 1950 under the editorship of Dr. K P Modi. Dr. Madan Lal Aggarwal and Dr. O P Bhardwaj later took up the reins of the journal and carried on till 1976. Maj. Gen. S K Dhawan was elected editor in 1980. He was followed by Dr. Mukund Joshi and then Dr. Om Tavri.


It was the dream of the founding fathers of the association that we should have a college purely dedicated to the teaching of radiology in this country and spread knowledge. The late Dr. P K Haldar and late Dr. K N Kamdar were primarily responsible for evolving the concept and 100 senior members were chosen to be founder fellows. The college evolved its constitution, rules and regulations and strict criteria for membership and fellowship. Many illustrious leaders in the profession have served in the ICRI.




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