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"The panic," reported INDIA Today correctly, "evaporated almost as fast as it had struck."

The 1994 panic struck India as some 5000 suspected cases of plague were reported mainly from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi but from almost every state from Punjab in the North to Andhra Pradesh in the South, from West Bengal in the East to Rajasthan in the West.  But in sharp contrast to epidemics of earlier times, the killer disease was contained and wiped out in just three weeks with 56 killed of the 263 confirmed as its victims.

 

If the plague bacillus had not won this time round, although it did exact a terrible price in human suffering and economic disruption, it was not the public health administration that had triumphed.  "The real hero", as the news magazine declared, was "tetracycline"!

 

It was India's good fortune that the antibiotic which came out of Yellapragada SubbaRow's laboratory four decades earlier was in sufficient supply although many were pronouncing it redundant because many disease organisms previously susceptible were developing resistance.  Yersina pestis had not acquired immunity to tetracyclines which did their work with half a million capsules distributed in Surat alone.

 

SubbaRow in his birth centenary year thus did pay his debt once again to Mother India almost fifty years after death.

 

The news that tetracycline was SubbaRow's gift to humankind thrilled India.  The government issued a postage stamp commemorating his Centenary.  Media were full of the stories about the Unsung Hero of Science.  And the Centenary Celebrations acquired a new significance.

 

The SubbaRow Centenary Celebrations were planned and launched long before the plague and the media hype about tetracyclines, thanks to the inspiration provided by a popular science journal profile of 'one of the greatest medical minds of the Century' to Dr Ram Bahadur Singh, an innovative cardiologist of Moradabad.  Dr R B Singh first held on October 6, 1993 at his remote hometown in Uttar Pradesh a SubbaRow Memorial Symposium as part of a satellite meeting of the 4th World Congress on Clinical Nutrition and gave away SubbaRow Memorial Awards to investigators who presented papers adjudged to be the best three.  He then canvassed his medical colleagues in Delhi, particularly Dr S S Rastogi and Dr A K Agarwal, for a pre-Centenary symposium in the national capital for young scientists to present papers in the fields where SubbaRow had made his contributions.   Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, was impressed, sanctioned a munificent government grant and flew down to officiate and inaugurate the New Delhi ceremonies. Part of the Symposium's savings were used by the A.P. government to install a bust of the great son of Andhra at Hyderabad's Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences to mark the state-wide centenary celebrations it organised in medical colleges.

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(c) Evelyn Publishers, This Website is dedicated to Dr Yellapragada SubbaRow whose contribution to human well being is unparalled