Navamaniyamma: The jovial stork that came walking

M P V Shenoi

Shenoi, a civil engineer and MBA, rose to the rank of Deputy Director-General of Works in the Indian Defence Service of Engineers. He has also been a member of HUDCO’s advisory board and of the planning team for Navi Mumbai. After retirement he has been helping NGOs in employment-oriented training, writing articles related to all aspects of housing, urban settlements, infrastructure, project and facility management and advising several companies on these issues. His email id is mpvshanoi@gmail.com.

Midwifery - this profession had its heyday in Indian cities from 1900 to 1950. Modern maternity clinics came up one by one In the 1950s, and by the end of the 20th century, most Indian cities were full of them.

Today, in the 21st century, no one seems to remember the friendly neighbourhood midwife. Has the profession has completely vanished from the scene in metropolitan Indian cities?

In the 1940s, Mary Ebenezer Navamani or, more simply, Navamaniyamma was a familiar figure to all of us who lived around Siddappa's square in Mysore - at least to lower and upper middle class people. Navamani means nine precious stones. The literal meaning of the suffix amma in Kannada is mother. Amma is used as a mark of respect for older women and those with high status in the society, with the status based on caste, wealth or professional standing.

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