July 2018

A grateful institution rejoices in playing host to the launching of the biography of a great friend and supporter

Nani Palkhivala

The name Nani Palkhivala conjures a variety of images like few other personalities do, the sheer versatility of the man leaves anyone thoroughly amazed and awed. A man who was the nation’s foremost constitutional lawyers, civil rights champion, economist whose interpretation of  the union budget was more awaited than the budget itself, a seasoned diplomat whose stint as India’s Ambassador to the USA marked a new height in Indo-US relations, the list is endless, but what made the man different was the ‘Connect’ he had with the common man, he was not the esoteric genius who lived in an ivory tower whose philosophy and beliefs were understood only by the intelligentsia, but a man who was sensitized by happenings around him and sensitized the common man on the same. A man who brought terms like human rights, diplomacy, impact of the budget etc within the understanding and concern of the common man. His observation of Sankara Nethralaya as a place which replenishes his faith in the goodness of mankind, is a classic example of his deep understanding of an institution and its functioning seemingly far out of his purview.

The 20th of July 2018 marked a very special and emotional day for Sankara Nethralaya as it was hosting the launch of the biography of a man who was one of its greatest well wishers, supporters and champions of its cause. The VD Swami auditorium at the Sankara Nethralaya main campus where the launch of the book aptly titled ‘Nani Palkhivala – God’s gift to India’ by Shri Dharmendra Bhandari was happening, presented a picture of an intimate audience, to quote the words of Chief Guest Shri Gopal Krishna Gandhi who was releasing the book.  Speaking on the occasion senior members of Sankara Nethralaya, Chairman Emeritus and Founder Dr SS.Badrinath and Dr Girish Rao, Director Medical Affairs recalled how a single visit to the institution left a deep impact on Shri Nani Palkhivala  and became a most important chapter in the institution’s history. Srimathi Akila Ganesan, Director -Administration took the audience on an interesting journey of the institution and its service to mankind since inception as perceived by late Nani Palkhivala

The distinguished audience on the dais reflected the values for which the man whose biography was being released. Chief Guest of the evening Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi the highly principled and public spirited civil servant who served both as a diplomat and the governor of West Bengal with distinction, Retired Judge of the Madras High Court Justice Prabha Sridevan an upright legal luminary, artist, author, human rights/women’s rights activist and member of the Intellectual property rights commission, Shri Dharmendra Bhandari the author, a highly principled auditor and litterateur and Mr S.Mahalingam a master of the art of  communication who was known in corporate circles as a man who knows what, when and how to communicate, a simple man under whose chairmanship TCS scaled great heights and a dedicated member of the Nani Palkhivala Foundation.

The book launch marked an intellectually invigorating evening with highly captivating recollections of the genius, his values, his intellect, sense of justice and fair play, charity, humour and humility. Shri Dharmendra Bhandari recalled him as a rare combination of a corporate czar who worked like a super computer to lead TCS to the status of a world class company, a legal luminary who was appointed into the Law commission by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru twice, a man who served as the attorney general for a single day and a man whose eloquence at the UN assembly decided a large tract of disputed land in the Rann of Kutch in favour of India. Guest of Honour Justice Prabha Sridevan observed with vehemence that if Nani Palkhivala was alive today he would have taught people the true meaning of freedom, emphasised the need for judicial recusal to judges, raised the prestige of the judiciary and demystified GST and demonetisation. Sharing his concern that we are living in a period of greed and gloom, when status has replaced stature, position has replaced prestige, sensation has replaced sacrifice, rhetoric has replaced reason, manipulation has replaced value system, Chief Guest Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi hastened to add that not all is lost and the nation’s judiciary stood as a shining example of high ethical standards, values and independence. He observed that the recent judgements by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Madras High court on the case pertaining to right to privacy and the Supreme court’s pronouncement on the right of the elected government vis-a-vis the  Lt Governor were indeed great verdicts which would have rejoiced Nani Palkhivala, if he was alive today.

Delivering the Vote of Thanks Shri S.Mahalingam recalled that he had the privilege of working under the legend and recalled that late Nani Palkhivala held Dr SS.Badrinath and Sankara Nethralaya his institution in the highest esteem, adding that the only occasion his eloquence exceeded his budget speeches was the occasion when he spoke at the Sankara Nethralaya campus during one of his visits.

The author and publisher of the biography offered the great work at a special price of 50% of the actual cost on the day of launch and committed the entire sale proceeds to Sankara Nethralaya, as a tribute to the man who held the institution in the highest esteem and close to his heart, the same would be utilized to provide cost free eye care to the poor and needy who cannot afford to pay for their treatment.

A high power knowledge dissemination exercise throws light on a least studied/understood ophthalmic challenge!

Ocular Trauma Con 2018

The 12th of July 2018 marked an important day for an institution passionately committed to knowledge dissemination and alleviation of pain and suffering through the same as the institution’s ophthalmic specialty departments namely ‘The Department of Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Services’ & ‘Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Department of Vitreo Retinal Services’  came together to organize the ‘OcularTraumaCon-2018’a, high power, international four day conference on ‘Ocular Trauma’ a serious vision impairing condition which according to the WHO affects 55 million people worldwide, leading to partial to total blindness besides causing pain and agony and social stigma owing to disfigurement. While pain or trauma could be an accompanying condition for most kinds of ophthalmic disorders, with the concerned specialty department engaging itself in the relief and control of the same, the Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Services department specializes in damage control and pain management to a very large extent owing to the nature of the ophthalmic service it offers and the OculartraumaCON-2018 was the fruit of long period of hard work and planning by Dr Bipasha Mukherjee, Director of the department and her team of Dr Kirthi Koka, Dr Sonam Nissar Poonam, Dr Vathsalya Vijay and other members of the above department. The curtain raiser was held at the Sri V.D.Swami Auditorium Sankara Nethralaya main campus on the 12th of July 2018 with a warm welcome to the forthcoming event by Dr Bipasha Mukherjee and an interesting note on what it held in store by Dr Kirthi Koka which generated a lot of interest and expectancy towards the conference. A video messages by Dr Muna Bhende, Deputy Director, Shri Bhagwan Mahavir Department of Vitreo Retinal Services Department, which partnered in organizing the event, underlining that Ocular Trauma had an impact on livelihood and the hope that the conference promises to hold the answers to it gave a good perspective to the forthcoming event and the description of ocular trauma as something which did not comply to conclusive evidence or conformity but is interpreted by subjective observation and enhanced with learning from other’s experiences by Dr. Nisar Sonam Poonam, Associate Consultant at the Department of Orbit, Oculoplasty, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Services set the tone for the conference. Ocular TraumaCon 2018 assumed great significance as it was being jointly held by three major ophthalmic bodies namely the Ocular Society of India, Asia Pacific Ophthalmic Trauma Society with support from the ‘European School for Advanced Studies in Ophthalmology’ (ESASO) and also doubled as Sankara Nethralaya’s ‘Retina Summit-2018’.

The international meet to discuss pain and suffering, aptly described by Dr Pramod Bhende, Medical Director-Clinical Services, Sankara Nethralaya as a ‘theme based knowledge dissemination initiative’ got off to the soothing tunes of Maestro Amjad Ali Khan’s Sarod in accompaniment with Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash at the packed to capacity Rajendra Hall, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai on 13th July 2018. The event generated significant interest and expectancy as it was an attempt to decipher and better understand one of the least recognized and studied factors causing blindness and was being participated by a galaxy of experts specializing in different ophthalmic specialties from the world over, since ocular trauma could occur in any region of the eye.

The three day event witnessed talks by more than 150 star speakers from across specialties who shared the latest treatment modalities, techniques and advances in handling ocular trauma and their critical real time experiences, which came as a source of great learning. Speakers strongly emphasised on a multi-disciplinary approach to treating ocular trauma, involving every sub-specialty of ophthalmology into it, creating awareness among the public and the need for government policy/legislation among policy makers, having an exclusive trauma care unit in every ophthalmic centre, creating a Fellowship and certification course in trauma care, grooming young ophthalmologists in the field of trauma care, creation of evidence based medicine, tested and proven guidelines, the need to make quick decisions when a patient is brought with a serious traumatic condition etc. Highlights at the meeting underlining the scope of trauma care were the observation by Dr Rupesh Agarwal, Secretary, Asia Pacific Ocular Trauma Society that the US military’s eye care division was willing to extend help in developing this field as a separate sub-specialty in view of the large number of soldiers who suffered damage in the eye during combat and showcasing of their ‘Air Ambulance’ which is pressed into service to transport accident victims to the hospital, shrinking time and distance, by Dr S.Raja Sabapathy, Head of Ganga Hospital, Coimbatore.

While the 3 day meeting facilitated a robust sharing of perceptions, approaches, current best practices in ocular trauma, leading to a better understanding of the same, the greater achievement of the exercise was that it succeeded in gaining ‘Ocular Trauma’ it’s long overdue recognition and place as a distinctly different and critical branch of ophthalmology.

The huge success of Ocular TraumaCON 2018 is a matter of great pride to Sankara Nethralaya the host institution as it reflected the meticulous planning, organizing and execution of the event by Dr Rajiv Raman and Dr Pradeep Susvar, Senior Consultants from its Vitroretina department who played the role of the Organizing Secretary and Joint Organizing Secretary of the event. Dr Pradeep Susvar in his address highlighted his department’s role in terms of the large number of patients it served every day, Fellows trained, offering 24X7 trauma care services for clinical and surgical management, large scale diabetic retinopathy screening, contributing to 50% of literature on DR, its highly impactful Lions skill transfer program and the department being completely digitalized and equipped with State of the Art equipment. Dr Rajiv Raman extended his sincere thanks to every delegate attending the TraumaCON-2018 for sharing their knowledge, understanding and personal experience which made the event a great learning opportunity and memorable to all attendees.

The event witnessed the induction of Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus and Founder Sankara Nethralaya and a leading light and doyen of ophthalmology, referred to as ‘Father of Vitroretina’ in India’ and Dr S.Natarajan, Founder and CEO of Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital, Mumbai into the ‘Retina Hall of Fame’