Sankara Nethralaya family once again celebrated India’s Republic Day 2022 with all the standard operating protocols in place. With only essential staff and the Chief Guest, physically present, many more viewed the ceremony online from the safety of their homes. The Flag hoisting ceremony started at 8:00 a.m. and Dr. G. Suganeswari offered a warm welcome to the chief guest, Dr. Prof. R. Surendran, Director of Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Centre for Surgery and Transplantation at MIOT International Hospitals, Chennai.
Joining our esteemed Chief Guest on the dais were Dr. Girish S. Rao, President, and Dr. T. S. Surendran, Vice Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya. Mr Chellasamy I K, Chief Security Officer escorted Dr. R. Surendran to unfurl the flag, while Mr. Ravi, DPS, led everyone in singing the national anthem. While Mr. I. K. Chellasamy introduced our chief guest to the assembled security guards, Mr. Ravi sang a moving patriotic song especially themed for Indian Republic day.
Mr. Mani Baskaran, Deputy Director of Glaucoma Services, gave a brief introduction of the history of the Constitution of India, and the significance of India’s Republic day and invited Dr. T. S. Surendran to introduce the chief guest, Dr. R, Surendran. Dr. T. S. Surendran reminisced that about meeting Dr. R. Surendran in 1964 in school and maintaining a close friendship since. Dr. T. S. Surendran showered his appreciation and praise on Dr. R. Surendran. Our chief guest completed his MBBS, MS, and MCH in Stanley Hospital, and specialises in liver diseases. He established successful liver transplants, the only of its kind in the government sector throughout India
He performed many Whipple procedures (pancreaticoduodenectomy — major operation to remove the head of the pancreas.) His most famous achievement was to start a gastroenterology block in a government hospital overcoming the bureaucracy and offering low cost treat for liver diseases in the government hospital. Dr. R. Surendran is an admirer of Dr. S. S. Badrinath and emulates Dr. SSB in his philanthropic deeds.
Many employees from our institution were treated by him. He successfully initiated multi-tasking among his subordinates while working at Stanley Medical College, making his innovations unique in the government sector. Many IAS officers are his patients, such as Sri V. Irai Anbu, Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu Government, who dedicated one of his books to Dr. R. Surendran. Dr. T. S. Surendran concluded saying that Dr. R. Surendran was a great man and time wasn’t enough to list his outstanding qualities.
Dr. Girish S. Rao, President, honoured the Chief Guest with a ‘ponnadai’ (silk shawl). Dr. R. Surendran took the stage and acknowledged Dr. S. S. Badrinath as his ‘Asaan’ or teacher. He told the enthralled audience a little known factoid about the constitution – the Indian Constitution consists of 328 pages and the largest constitution in the world. He spoke of the inequalities existing in our country – the rich get better medical treatment than the have-nots in spite of our Constitution speaking of the right to equality and freedom.
He recounted a small incident demonstrating Dr. S. S. Badrinath’s humanitarianism – a patient from the North East region of India who came to Sankara Nethralaya for treatment suffered a stroke on the day of his discharge, and became semi-comatose. Dr. T. S. Surendran coordinated with Dr. R. Surendran who was in Stanley Hospital for the patient’s admission to the Neuro- ICU. But Dr. Badrinath took a personal interest and sent the patient to Apollo Hospital, spending a princely sum on the patient’s recovery, stating that it was Sankara Nethralaya’s responsibility to send the patient back in good health. Dr. R. Surendran said Sankara Nethralaya staff is very fortunate to work in a humanitarian atmosphere led by Dr. Badrinath’s spirit of selflessness. He called for young doctors and other youngsters to make the world a better place, and reminded the younger generation to remember their early enthusiasm to help the poor and not change to materialism when they got older.
Dr. R. Surendran advised the young doctors that success is not important but significance is important. He elaborated that while skill and knowledge made good doctors, empathy was important to become a great doctor. He urged the young doctors to choose a significant life of character. He ended his speech by blessing Sankara Nethralaya to grow in the same spirit of missionary vision.
Dr. G. Suganeswari thanked Dr. R. Surendran for his inspirational speech and announced the presentation of service awards. She called on Mrs. Sudha Mohan to announce the Dhingra Trust Awards for the children of employees who had excelled in their studies. On the occasion of India’s 50th Independence day, the institution had taken a vow to grant merit awards to employees’ children who scored 80% and above in their academics. The Dhingra Family Trust was established in 2004 by Sri Ram Dhingra who belongs to California, USA, for the children of employees who scored above 70%, and going on for college education. A total of 21 children – 18 from Chennai and 3 from Kolkota were the joyful recipients of the Dhingra Trust awards.
After the awards were distributed, one of the awardees, Ms. Janani, daughter of Ms. Revathy, Department of Patient Services, shared her thoughts and thanked the institution on behalf of all the awardees.
Mrs. Shalini Srikumar, who started her career at Sankara Nethralaya as a consultant secretary in 1997, was encouraged to become a clinical research coordinator. Her daughter too was the recipient of the Dhingra Trust Awards. She thanked the institution for encouraging the students in their future careers and enabling the employees to have good careers.
Dr. Suganeswari concluded the Republic Day celebrations by thanking the Chief Guest, Dr. R. Surendran, Dr. Girish S. Rao, President, and Dr. T. S. Surendran for attending the event. She also thanked the security guards, housekeeping, and all the other staff who attended the event. She ended by quoting Dr. Abdul Kalam, “A dream is not that which you see while sleeping, it is something that does not let you sleep.”