Like all auspicious family functions the naming of the research block started to the sonorous tunes of the nadaswaram and tavil in the background. The Sankara Nethralaya family and its well wishers were getting together for a very special occasion and the music provided the traditional backdrop to it. Chairman Emeritus Dr SS Badrinath and Chairman Dr.Baskaran extended a warm welcome to the visiting dignitaries at the entrance of the lobby.
Akila Ganesan, GM was the MC for the evening, she started the evening’s proceedings with a warm welcome to the dignitaries and other participants after which she went on to explain briefly the critical need for advanced ophthalmic research in the country. She explained that only a preventive approach rather than a curative one could tackle the problem of blindness effectively.
The invocation was rendered by Smt Gayathri Venkatraghavan. She sang “Kamalanayana Vaasudeva” a composition of the Saint composer Bhadrachala Ramadasar. This was an apt invocation for the naming of “Kamalnayan” Bajaj Research Centre.
Dr HN Madhavan, President Vision Research Foundation welcomed the gathering. He observed that the Vision Research Foundation, which enjoyed a premier status in ophthalmic research, sustained itself totally through funds from private and various government departments. He said that the foundation was continually involved in basic research and highlighted its achievements in terms of
1. Producing Doctorates every year
2. Affiliation with prestigious institutions like the BITS, Pilani and the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University
3. Holding 4 prestigious patents, including one for DNA macro chip
4. Almost 1/3 of the total research papers on ophthalmic research in the country came from the Vision Research Foundation.
Dr Madhavan recalled the long association of the Bajaj family and Sankara Nethralaya and how a breakfast meeting between Shri Niraj Bajaj and Dr Badrinath paved the way to the donation of a large amount towards the Kamalnayan Research Center by the eminent industrial house. He added that it was the philanthropic disposition of Shri Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Bajaj group that made the research block a reality. He expressed that Sankara Nethralaya was honored to have two eminent bureaucrats Dr Ramasami, Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Science and Technology and Padmavibushan V.Krishnamurthy, Chairman, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, both known for their high caliber and integrity as the honoured guests of the evening.
Formal renaming of the research block
Following Dr Madhavan’s welcome address and honouring of the guests, the Chief Guest Dr Ramasami and the guest of honour Padmavibushan V.Krishnamurty jointly opened the plaque announcing the renaming of the block as Kamlnayan Bajaj Research Center.
Speech on Vision Research Foundation’s achievement by Dr Tarun Sharma
Dr Tarun Sharma, Director, Shri Bhagwan Mahaveer Vitreo- retinal services and Honorary Secretary Vision Research Foundation spoke next. Dr Sharma highlighted the fact that Sankara Nethralaya was a teaching and training institute of repute, accredited to prestigious institutions like the BITS Pilani and the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University. He explained that the Vision Research Foundation had constituted a 20 member board with representation from different sections of society, to give realtime significance to its research findings.
Dr Sharma elaborated the various departments that would function from the different floors of the research center and the genesis of how the Bajaj family got involved in its inception with the aid of an audio visual presentation. He used the occasion to give a poignant account of how Shri Iravatham Mahadevan a distinguished IAS officer bequeathed a huge sum to Sankara Nethralaya in loving memory of his departed son which helped in the founding of the Vidyasagar Institute of Basic Science. Dr Tarun Sharma closed his speech on the note that on a conservative estimate the Sankara Nethralaya needed rupees 207 crores to meet its social objectives and growth and made a fervent appeal to everyone assembled that they should do their bit to achieve this.
This was followed by presentations of mementos to Professor Ramakrishnan by Dr T Ramasami and to Justice A. Mohan by Shri V. Krishnamurthy.
Address by Rahul Bajaj, Chairman Bajaj group
Chairman of the Bajaj group Shri Rahul Bajaj underlined in his speech that it was the social responsibility of private enterprise to sustain and nurture institutions involved in public welfare, he recalled that Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had expounded this philosophy in his writings almost a century ago and it was more relevant today than ever before. He emphasized that Bhakthi- devotion and Samarpan – sacrifice were the bedrock of any venture and were instrumental to the growth and success of Sankara Nethralaya. Shri Bajaj complimented the Vision Research Foundation for its highly productive research and the Sankara Nethralaya for being the biggest eye care facility in Asia providing high quality, low cost eye care to all sections of society. He underlined his personal belief in Sankara Nethralaya’s philosophy of Privatized Public Sector, which made his association with it very natural. Shri Bajaj closed his address with a down to earth remark that he was only doing his duty in supporting the efforts of the Vision Research Foundation.
Guest of Honour’s address
Shri HN Krishnamurthy the guest of honour complimented the Vision Research Foundation for its unique achievement of successfully upholding a high value system in a successful non profit enterprise, he added that only a man of Dr SS Badrinath’s stature and capability could have brought together a highly dedicated team of professionals, delivering the highest of professional eye care with a service orientation. He complimented Shri Rahul Bajaj for choosing Sankara Nethralaya to fulfill his dream and family philosophy of private involvement in non-profit, pubic utility institutions. Shri Krishnamurthy observed that Shri Rahul Bajaj has been highly successful in all his ventures and his association with Sankara Nethralaya will create medical history. He closed his address with a fervent pledge that he would act as a bridge between Sankara Nethralaya and the business houses.
Chief Guest’s address
DR T Ramasami, Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Science and Technology, known for his ceaseless efforts in making the CLRI (Central Leather Research Institute) which he headed as Director a world class research institute, complimented the Bajaj family for their generous contribution for the cause of research.
He remarked that the country was doing quite well in the field of health care and acknowledged that the gap in advancement in Medicare between the West and India had appreciably narrowed down thanks to the efforts of premium institutions like Sankara Nethralaya and Vision Research Foundation. Dr Ramasami underlined that medical research called for great sacrifice as it was not as remunerative as medical practice and the returns here were more of emotional and professional fulfillment. He explained that in his capacity as Secretary in the Department of Science and Technology he has initiated remedial measures like enhancing the stipend for researchers from a measly rupees 10,000 to rupees 50,000 per month and hoped that this would be more fair to them. He complimented the Sankara Nethralaya for the paradign shift in its research endeavors and India centric research and added that the budget outlay of 207 crores projected by Dr Tarun Sharma was in fact very small given the huge challenge that lay ahead of it.
Mr RS Falor, Honorary Treasurer, Vision Research Foundation offered the vote of thanks and the function concluded with the playing of the National anthem.
Sunday the 11th of September 2011 was a day of thanksgiving and invoking the blessings of the Almighty at Sankara Nethralaya. “Sudharsana Homam” the annual mass prayer for the welfare of Sankara Nethralaya employees and their families and for all round world peace and prosperity was performed with religious fervour at a specially formed dais near the Sri V.Venugopal block. A total of 13 purohits chanted Vedic mantras and performed 6 homams. This year the honour of undertaking the ‘Sankalpam’ went to Dr Veena Bhaskaran, Consultant at the JCOC and her husband Shri J.Balamurugan.
Dr S.Bhaskaran, Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya, Board Members, Consultants, Employees, Swan Volunteers, Post graduate researchers and attendants of patients took part in the function, which culminated with the distribution of prasadam around noon.
A one hour talk by globally renowned motivational speaker, spiritualist and corporate management guru Swami Sukhabodhananda was organized at the Sri VD Swami Auditorium on the 23rd of September 2011. Members of the Sankara Nethralaya family had a glimpse of the Swami’s refreshingly simple approach to life and its complexities and his earthy philosophy of living the moment in hand instead of seeking a seemingly elusive happiness in the distant future.
Swami Sukhabodhananda observed that knowledge today has become a tool to protect one’s foolishness and emphasized that such knowledge was dangerous and counterproductive, he emphasized that knowledge becomes relevant and useful only when it is used to destroy foolishness. Swami Sukhabodhananda drove his point home with jokes and funny anecdotes that kept the audience entertained while underlining a strong message. The highly informative and interesting talk ended with a question and answer session, with the Swami answering questions raised by the audience.
It was an evening of spell binding musical magic at the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on Wednesday the 14th of September as Shri Chirtravina Ravikiran, Shri Unnikrishnan, Mr. Billy Cardine, Shri KV Prasad, Kum Akkarai Subbulakshmi, Shri Krishna Kishore displayed the beauty when East and West meet with their “Magic Wand” a Melharmonic fusion megavanza.
The event was organized and presented by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in aid of Sankara Nethralaya’s Community Services. The evening started with Raga Reethigowla, followed by Mayamalavagowla. A special feature was the composition of Mr. Billy Cardine, titled “Concrete Garden”. Following a brisk Bilahari, a short function to hand over the donation raised through this fundraiser was organized. Mr. Y. Prabhu, Secretary, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, welcomed the rasikas and explained how the whole program came about. He mentioned that this would not have been possible with the support of The Hindu as the program was organized within a fortnight.
Mrs. Akila Ganesan, General Manager, Sankara Nethralaya thanked Sri Krishna Gana Sabha for their gesture of coming forward with a proposal to conduct a charity program and organizing it in such short notice, she also thanked the performers on stage, sponsors and “The Hindu” for their quick and positive response in terms of free press coverage for the programme and briefed the audience on the various community projects and cost free services that are carried out with the help of donations received and funds raised through such charity shows.
Mrs. Akhila Srinivasan, Managing Director, Shriram Investments made a generous donation to Sankara Nethralya’s community services on the occasion on behalf of her company. Shri N.Ram, Editor-in-Chief, “The Hindu” expressed his hearty congratulations to the performers and gave an interesting speech touching on fusion music to Sankara Nethralaya’s high quality free services which he termed as ‘astonishing’. He mentioned that the program was a coming together of 2 child prodigies, Shri Ravikiran and Mr. Billy Cardine.
Shri Prabhu, Chairperson Sri Krishna Gana Sabha expressed his thanks to ‘The Hindu’ for its continued support of the country’s cultural heritage through its coverage of Carnatic and other forms of traditional music, he expressed his sincere thanks to the Shriram Investments group and other Corporate sponsors of the programme, audience assembled who had donated for a noble cause and the various departments and Personnel at Sankara Nethralaya who worked for the staging of this extraordinary musical nite.
Chairman-Emeritus of Sankara Netralaya, Chennai, S.S. Badrinath has appealed to college students to allot a portion of their income to uplift the poor people in the community and help bring about the inclusive growth of the nation.
Delivering the Graduation Day address at the 6th Graduation Day of Ganadipathy Tulsi’s Jain Engineering College (GTEC) at Kaniyambadi near here on Sunday, Dr. Badrinath said that 75 per cent of the population of India lived in villages, while 60 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line. “What we are all dreaming to do to the villages, the college management has done by starting an engineering college in a village”, he said.
Just as Sankara Netralaya provided free treatment to poor patients, constituting about 40 per cent of the total number of patients, the students, when they get jobs, should set apart a portion of their earnings to society. “Even if you go abroad and earn, you should come back and give something to society”, he said.