The pleasant evening of Thursday the 6th of September 2018 being celebrated as the 40th Foundation day of Sankara Nethralaya began with a soulful invocation to Lord Ganesha by Srimathi Gomathisri. Extending his warm welcome and thanking the attendees for their presence, Dr Girish Shiva Rao, Medical Director, Sankara Nethralaya began his talk on a note of caution that the institution has traversed a period of time (40 years) in its life when men and women are prone to a common age related eye ailment called ‘Presbyopia’ which makes it difficult to see objects at a close distance and reading fine print, the observation was a call to avoid a short sighted approach and take the right steps for the institution to stay relevant in today’s changing world, as it was when it was started 4 decades back.
Starting her address on a lighter vein that she enjoyed reaching her Presbyopic age along with the institution, Srimathi Akila Ganesan- Director, Administration gave a most poignant account of the four glorious decades by emphasising Sankara Nethralaya’s story of giving, bonding, ethical practice without disparity to paying and patients treated cost free, knowledge dissemination for the common good through quality educational institutions, a highly supportive board of directors and committed and dedicated doctors and abundant blessings from the Guru without which none of the above would have made sense.
The institution had the divine fortune of being blessed by His Holiness Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal the Pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam on the momentous occasion. Hailing the institution as a very special entity which was blessed by both the Periyavas, the Seer lauded Dr SS.Badrinath’s work as a ‘Himalayan Service’. He had a high word of praise for the institution’s holistic approach to treating blindness, combining clinical expertise and cost free care, a case of the heart meeting the brain and its propensity to acquire knowledge from the world over to benefit its patients both rich and poor, a virtue enshrined in the ancient scriptures. Punning on the Tamil adage ‘Kannum Karuthum’ which translates as ‘With utmost care’ he observed that the institution played the dual role of treating the eye and touching the heart with its philosophy of service.
Vice President, Sankara Nethralaya and Director of Pediatric Ophthalmology Dr TS.Surendran, among the institution’s early employees took the audience on a nostalgic trip laced with humour, providing the lighter moments of the evening and insights into an eventful past.
Delivering the most awaited chief guest’s address on the topic ‘My reminiscences of Sankara Nethralaya’ legendary Danseuse and cultural icon, Barata Jyoti Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam hailed Dr SS.Badrinath as a ‘Kaliyuga Danavantri’ whose life can be best described as ‘Karana Janma’ or a ‘Life full of purpose’ she lauded the institution as a place where values percolate from the top to every level of the hierarchy and described the event as a celebration of the 40th year of service by the Sankara Nethralaya team from Dr SS.Badrinath to the sentry/car park attendant. The long time friend of and well wisher of the institution recapped the golden chapter in Sankara Nethralaya’s history when its founder was blessed with the opportunity to treat the Living God HH Chandrasekarendra Saraswati Swamigal, her most memorable performance for the institution for which she had chosen songs with the eye as the central theme with great support from the legendary Dr.Balamurali Krishna. Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam eulogized Sankara Nethralaya as another root of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, a Hindu institution which served with the true spirit of service without any expectations and concluded her oration with the observation that the institution was blessed with angelic doctors and enjoyed phenomenal worldwide repute and her wishes for its ‘Ruby Jubilee’.
A major event of the day was the launch of the ‘Sankara Nethralaya Anthem’ or theme song, the brainchild and dream project of Sankara Ratna VV.Ranganathan a long time friend and well wisher of the instititution and its founder and the tireless efforts by him, Dr. Vani Jairam who has given life to the touching lyrics the way only she can, in 4 languages and Shri Dakshin the music director. The event witnessed generous donations towards its cause by Lion Harinarayanan and Lion R. Chandrasekharan and came to a close with a warm vote of thanks by Srimathi Sudha Mohan, Senior Manager-HRD, who described the day as a day of nostalgia to many, news to some.