Even a cursory glance would reveal the striking similarity between the principles, values and objectives that govern Sankara Nethralaya as an institution and the ones propounded by the Father of the Nation. The institution came into being on the clarion call made by the Seer of the Kanchi Mutt, to strengthen the nation’s health care capabilities, as a step towards self-reliance, it dispenses eye care with a spirit of service and love and without disparity between paying and non-paying patients, clear Gandhian values and principles. The institution engaged passionately in fulfilling the Gandhian dream of independence, self-reliance and dignity of our countrymen, by reviving the lost vision of the indigent visually impaired, for more than 4 decades, decided that the best homage and tribute to the Mahatma on his 150th birth anniversary would be by adopting a ‘village’ where he declared ‘The Soul of India lives!’ and ensuring the healthy vision of every single resident. ‘Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital’s Anjali to the Mahathma’ whose acronym SNEHAM most appropriately translates as ‘Love’ or ‘Friendliness’ in Tamil, the brainchild of Mrs Akila Ganesan-Director Administration, Sankara Nethralaya evolved as a vehicle to fulfil the above.
It was most appropriate that Sankara Nethralaya’s homage to the Mahatma, SNEHAM-2020, was flagged off by Shri K S Kandaswamy, Collector, Tiruvannamalai district, a civil servant passionately committed to Gandhian values, presiding over the function as the Chief Guest and Shri Surajmal Jain friend and well-wisher of SN and a philanthropist deeply ingrained in Gandhian values and patron of the Suraj Sankara Nethralaya, as a guest of honour. Delivering the welcome address, Dr. Chandrakanth,-In-Charge of the Suraj Sankara Nethralaya, Tiruvannamalai hailed the occasion as a Red Letter Day and a giant step in the institution’s community outreach initiatives, he underlined that SNEHAM-2020 being flagged off most appropriately by a Gandhian civil servant will empower and liberate the villagers living in 150 villages in the district through revival of vision. Dr Anuradha Narayanan, Assistant Professor at the ESO and a driving force behind the project hailed that SNEHAM-2020 will bring Vision 2020 (100% vision) to the underprivileged, by year 2020 by eliminating avoidable blindness through massive screening of the local population, the expert in eye screening highlighted that these camps will help in diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, refractive errors and offer preventive/curative care and free glasses. She highlighted that the success of any project depended on the people behind it and hailed the generous gesture of Mr Milind Jadhav, Senior Director, Inclusive Business & Philanthropy, South Asia, Essilor, gracing the occasion, for committing a staggering 50,000 spectacles, approximately valued at INR 1.5 crores for free distribution, from the Essilor Foundation, as their contribution to the project. Dr Anuradha thanked the Collector and Shri Surajmal Jain for supporting the distribution of self-help kits to the schools in the district with the help of which teachers could do basic eye examination of the students. Hailing the Collector as the very epitome of humanity Shri Surajmal Jain highlighted the humanitarian services rendered by him to the district which made him a fan of him, sterling qualities which came for fulsome praise with live examples in the intro of the chief guest by Mrs Akila Ganesan-Director Administration, Sankara Nethralaya
Delivering the Chief Guest’s address Shri KS Kandaswamy, Collector, Tiruvannamalai district exclaimed that it was a golden day for the district and expressed his thanks to Sankara Nethralaya for launching SNEHAM-2020, he hailed Shri Surajmal Jain’s generous gesture of donating an entire hospital for a noble cause as a rare gesture in today’s world adding that his numerous service initiatives have made him as important to the district as it’s administrative machinery. He underlined that SNEHAM 2020 would be a critical preventive care initiative which would help in diagnosing and treating ailments through its massive school screening programs. The service minded Civil Servant lamented that education today is unfortunately being viewed as something that would simply improve the scope for employment and earning opportunity of the individual and its larger role of imparting knowledge and character building is often neglected, he exhorted the students gathered in large numbers not to allow small hurdles to block their big goal, he advised them to not look for the family inheritance and instead focus on gaining knowledge and learning, as wealth will diminish with the passage of time but knowledge cannot be destroyed and will stand by them all through their life. He closed his talk on an emotional note that each brick of their classrooms will carry their dream and will happily and proudly welcome them when they achieve their dream and visit their old school as highly successful men and women.
SNEHAM-2020 Sankara Nethralaya’s ambitious cost free outreach initiative and 150th birth anniversary homage to the Mahatma put its best leg forward with its maiden eye screening camp at the Suraj Higher Secondary Matriculation school, Melthangal village, Chetpet Taluk, Tiruvannamalai district, the venue of the launch.