The Temple of the Eye entered its 37th year of service to humanity with great pride and joy on the 6th of September 2014, the day marked the conferring of the Sankara Ratna and Smt M.S. Subbulakshmi awards to the great people who have shared its dream, supported its cause and celebrated its achievements. The proceedings started with a warm welcome to the awardees, distinguished guests, members of the Sankara Nethralaya family and well wishers to the momentous occasion and a note on the awards being conferred by Dr. Pramod Bhende, Director- Medical Affairs, Medical Research Foundation. It was a happy coincidence that it was his birthday too!
Introducing the Chief Guest Shri Bharath Joshi, Deputy British Deputy High Commissioner to Chennai and Guest of Honour Srimathi Bombay Jayashri, Dr. Smitha Praveen Vittal, Senior Consultant, General Ophthalmology described the former as an accomplished diplomat and crisis manager and highlighted the eminent singer’s study on the therapeutic qualities of music, so apt to the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion Srimathi Akila Ganesan, Senior General Manager, Sankara Nethralaya gave an interesting note on the institution celebrating its 37th birthday, touching on its founding principles, the impact of its cost free services on society, its contributions to preventive, India centric ophthalmic research and groundbreaking academic initiatives. She observed that interestingly it was in his 37th year that Dr SS.Badrinath embarked on his journey of eliminating blindness by founding the Sankara Nethralaya on the holy command of the Seer of Kanchi and the institution he founded was celebrating its 37th year of glorious service to mankind on the day. She summed up the spirit of Nethralaya with a highly touching story of an indigent patient who had saved her hard earned money to make a pilgrimage, but so moved was she by the cost free services rendered by Sankara Nethralaya that she chose to give it to the ‘Temple of the eye’ doing God’s own work.
Dr T.S.Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya took the audience on an interesting walk down memory lane, remarking in his characteristic lighter vein that the long hours of duty kept the pioneers of the institution within its premises much after day fall so they could see neither the Sun nor their Son, he had a high word of praise for the charitable work being carried out by the Sankara Ratna awardee Shri V.V. Ranganathan through his Sai Annalakshmi scheme.
This was followed by the most awaited moment of the day, the conferring of the Sankara Ratna award to Shri V.V.Ranganathan by Shri Bharath Joshi, British Deputy High Commissioner to Chennai and the Srimathi M.S. Subbulakshmi Award to Shri S.Rajarathinam and Shri K.S.Jayaraman, Directors Autotech Industries and long time friends and supporters of Sankara Nethralaya by renowned vocalist Srimathi Bombay Jayashri, to the thunderous applause of the packed Sri V.D.Swami Auditorium. Delivering the acceptance speech Shri V.V.Ranganathan described Dr. SS.Badrinath as a dignified, disciplined, devoted and diligent individual with an enthusiasm which was contagious. He recalled that Dr SS.Badrinath gave the go ahead for his work ‘Insight’ only after repeated entreaties and assurances that it would not be a story on him but a story of Sankara Nethralaya and the people who helped in bringing it to its glorious stature. Dr. Sheila John, Head – Teleophthalmology and Dr.S.Ambika, Senior Consultant, Neuro-Ophthalmology introduced the Smt M.S.Subbulakshmi awardees Shri Rajarathinam and Shri Jayaraman giving an interesting account of their yeoman service to Sankara Nethralaya. Delivering their acceptance speech a visibly moved Shri Jayaraman and Shri Rajarathinam expressed their joy and pride and gratitude at being conferred with the award for their services to an institution which they adored.
The day witnessed the inauguration of the baccalaureate in ophthalmic dispensing by the Chief Guest Shri Bharath Joshi, Shrimathi Akila Ganesan, Senior General Manager explained that this course would meet the need for a thorough understanding of this field, speaking on the occasion, Shri Bharath Joshi observed that nations must be measured for their social relevance and not there economic clout, he closed his address with a call for deeper relationship between India and the UK in the areas of Academics and Research.
The day ended with a Vote of Thanks by Dr R.Srikanth, Associate Consultant-Pediatric Ophthalmology.