The ‘Celebrity Charity Dinner’ hosted at the ‘Rajendra’ hall at the ITC Grand Chola on the 30th of December 2013 by Sankara Nethralaya, to raise funds for its cost free community services was by itself a shining example of charity, it captured the spirit of giving of an old friend and well wisher of the institution Dr Mohan Rajan, Chairman & Medical Director, Rajan Eye Care Hospital Pvt Ltd, who had organized the function as a sign of his love and regard to the institution he held close to his heart. Introducing himself as a proud alumnus of Sankara Nethralaya the highly spirited sponsor welcomed the honoured Chief Guest Shri Vishwanathan Anand, the distinguished gathering and the greatest Indian Living Legend and his mentor Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya whom he described as a phenomenal architect. The charity event got off to a melodious start with an invocation by Shrimathi Sudha Haridas a long time supporter, well wisher and a founder member of the Sankara Nethralaya Women’s Auxiliary (SWAN).
Speaking on the occasion Dr. Rajiv Raman, Senior Consultant, Vitreo-retinal Services explained that the purpose of the celebrity dinner was to express gratitude, share current and future plans and to seek support, he recalled that the founder of the institution was armed only with a ‘Holy Command’ when he started the institute and it was divine blessings and the support of society that made his dream come true. He had a special word of thanks for Dr. Mohan Rajan for his generous gesture of sponsoring the grand event. Recalling the Chief Guest Shri Vishwanathan Anand’s close ties with the city, he described him as a ‘Pride of Chennai’. This was followed by an in-depth and highly absorbing talk by Dr. Tarun Sharma, Director, Quality Assurance and Fund Raising, Sankara Nethralaya, he started with a poignant note on the power of vision and how vision was the vital bridge between man and the world he lived in, he also shared his anxiety on the high prevalence of visual impairment in the country. Dr.Tarun Sharma underlined that while strong leadership, team work and State of the Art equipment had undoubtedly contributed to Sankara Nethralaya’s growth and success it was the inspiring role of society that was instrumental for its huge success and growth to such glorious heights. He cited the major recognitions showered on the institution by society in terms of being selected consecutively for many years as the ‘Best Ophthalmic Hospital’ by highly prestigious quality surveys conducted by ICICI-Lombard – CNBC TV 18, The Week-Hansa Research, Zee TV and glowing tributes by such illustrious leaders like Shri Ratan Tata, Shri Nani Palkhivala and more recently by Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, recognition by the Limca Book of Records for setting a benchmark in cost free eye screening etc. The Director, Fund Raising described Sankara Nethralaya as a perfect example of public-private partnership, he completed his talk with a detailed note on the pipeline projects and how much they would cost and an earnest appeal for funds from the gathering.
The event witnessed the participation of old friends and supporters of Dr SS.Badrinath and Sankara Nethralaya and we take pleasure in sharing their spontaneous observations with our readers, Dr Janardhan Rao, who served with distinction as India’s High Commissioner to Australia, a college mate of Dr SS.Badrinath described Sankara Nethralaya as the world’s biggest ophthalmic hospital adding that its founder remained the same humble and sincere friend whom he knew in college, Shri Balaraman former CEO of Pond’s India Ltd and a recognized management guru, a friend and admirer of Dr SS.Badrinath echoed his dream of creating a world class eye care and research institution on the lines of the Bethesda Eye Care Institute in the USA, to do research in the ‘Indian Eye’ which according to Dr SS.Badrinath was distinctively different from the eyes of other nationals. Shri Jagdish former Vice-President of Glaxo Smithkline also a college mate of Dr SS.Badrinath paid glowing tributes to what he termed as ‘Real Research’ truly world class translational, basic and advanced research for the benefit of mankind being carried out at Sankara Nethralaya. Mrs. Nirmala Acharya wife of Shri SV.Acharya, an old friend and admirer of Dr.SS.Badrinath and President, Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust Inc, the fund raising arm of Sankara Nethralaya in the USA observed that her family was indeed blessed to be associated with a towering personality like Dr SS.Badrinath and his institution and to be able to contribute towards its fund raising initiatives in the USA with the help of the dedicated SN OM Trust team. Srimathi Rajam Subramanian wife of Late Subramanian a leading auditor of Mumbai and a regular donor and friend of Sankara Nethralaya recalled the warm treatment her late husband received from Dr SS.Badrinath and his institution and made an on the spot donation, this was followed by a significant on the spot donation by Shri Raja Rathnam, Chairman, Autotech Industries (India) Pvt Ltd another great supporter of the institution
Delivering the Chief Guest’s address Shri Vishwanthan Anand observed that it was a tremendous honour to be the Chief Guest at a gathering for such a noble cause; he recalled his family’s more than a decade old association with Sankara Nethralaya. Shri Anand recalled that a visit and brief interaction with a team of visually impaired, self taught chess players from Gujarat created a deep impact on him on the power of vision, which everybody took for granted. The grandmaster underlined that while it was possible to offer relief in a myriad ways nothing could be more profoundly life changing and nothing could make a bigger difference than giving back one’s lost vision and the fact that Sankara Nethralaya was engaged in this mission made it the real celebrity of the day. The Chief Guest ended his note with an emphatic appeal to the gathering to donate and garner funds for the noble cause that Sankara Nethralaya was pursuing ceaselessly. This was followed by honouring of the Chief Guest with a plaque and a gift by Dr SS.Badrinath and a gift for Srimathi Aruna Anand who could not attend on account of personal commitments by Dr. Vasanthi Badrinath
Speaking on the occasion Dr.SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya expressed his warm thanks to Shri Viswanathan Anand for consenting to be the Chief Guest in the midst of his busy schedules and the friends and supporters of the institution who had responded to the invite and gathered in good numbers, he had a special word of thanks for Dr. Mohan Rajan for his magnanimous gesture of organizing the function and added that Dr Mohan was an alumnus of Sankara Nethralaya and continued to consider it as his own institution. It was a day of rejoicing for the Sankara Nethralaya family, a surprise birthday celebration of Dr.Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Medical Services, Sankara Nethralaya and Srimathi Jayanthi Surendran wife of Dr TS.Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya the two great women behind the sacrifice and success of their illustrious husbands, was held in a simple manner on this momentous occasion by cutting a cake.
Dr TS.Surendran delivered the Vote of Thanks tracing the origin of chess to India from where it moved westward, he described Dr SS.Badrinath as the Grandmaster of ophthalmology and appealed for the support of society for his noble endeavours, he thanked the Chief guest for his participation, Dr. Mohan Rajan for his generous gesture and the donors and all the invitees gathered for their participation and support.