Sankara Nethralaya and its associate institutions, it would seem have a magical quality about them, traveling back in time and taking a close look at their inception and growth one is truly amazed by the magic which drew the right people into their fold to make the dream and passion of the young vitreo retinal surgeon from the US a reality. He had a vision and foresight and the right men and women simply joined him as people join a great movement. Sankara Nethralaya was recently honoured by the visit of one such stalwart, a man who was part of this great movement, a man who shared the founder’s passion and dream and the man who laid a strong foundation to the Elite School of Optometry (ESO). The young at heart Septuagenarian Professor Dr.PP.Santanam who served as the ESO’s first Principal and a man who continues to offer weekly lectures at the place where his heart is, paid a visit to Sankara Nethralaya accompanied by Dr R.Krishna Kumar, the current Principal to meet his old friend and colleague Dr SS.Badrinath, to share his thoughts and most importantly to make a huge donation to the ESO, to quote his own words “a donation towards the cause of progress of optometry and to keep the ESO the Numero Uno optometry institution in the country”.
Professor PP.Santnam attributed Dr SS.Badrinath’s foresight and vision as the most important factors in the development of optometry as an important science in the country, getting it its due pride of place among other health sciences and its role in overall ophthalmic care. He gave a most absorbing account of how he became the first Principal of the ESO on his return from the Barbados, West Indies although he was neither an optometrist nor an ophthalmologist but a specialist in occupational health medicine and safety, as Dr SS. Badrinath wanted the new institution to be headed by man who would set a great personal example. He took an interesting walk back into the past when he was advisor to the government of Barbados on occupational health, adding with a twinkle in his eye that he was a neighbor during those years to none other than the cricketing legend Sir Garfield St.Aubrun Sobers and how he would serve the spinning legend Venkataraghavan his favourite curd rice when he toured the Barbados, West Indies.
It was amazing to note that this great educationist had emphasized on the need to develop soft skills, general knowledge, societal commitment need for lateral thinking and usage of computers among the students of the ESO way back in the eighties when these things were unheard of. No wonder that the ESO remains a first in its class institution to this day.
Dr PP.Santanam presented a cheque for a significant sum of rupees thirty lakhs to be converted into two equal corpus funds, in honour of his parents Former Judge Shri P.V.Parameswara Iyer and Srimathi Kamala Bai and his parents’ in-law Dr S.Ramakrishnan and Srimathi Bhagavathi, to meet the cost towards research, training, education, development of Occupational Optometry and other community activities of the ESO.
The communication department of Sankara Nethralaya decided to use the golden opportunity to pose a few questions to the stalwart and we take pleasure in bringing some excerpts of the Q&A Session below