The 14th of February 2017 witnessed a glorious exhibition of compassion, generosity and the spirit of giving as the members of the SriSrimal family which owns and operates Medisales Corporation, among the most well known pharmaceutical manufacturers and distribution chain in the country gathered at the second floor of the Sri A.Sivasailam block housing the ‘Cornea Services Department’ being named after their founder Shri Parasmal SriSrimal an entrepreneur with a spirit to give back to society; honouring the late philanthropist and visionary by naming an entire floor housing a critical facility at the new block was Sankara Nethralaya’s gesture of gratitude and reciprocation to his son Shri Narendra Srisrimal and his family’s generous donation made towards supporting the creation of the same. A solemn function was organized in the divine presence of His Holiness Gachapathi Jainacharya Sri Nityananda Surishwarji Maharaj to mark the event. Sankara Nethralaya was represented in the function by Dr KS.Vasan, Managing Director, Srimathi Akila Ganesan, Director-Administration, Dr Ananth Badrinath Senior Principal Scientist and Associate Professor, Lens Biology Department, Shri Ashok Mehta, member of the MRF board, Consultants and employees gathered in large numbers.
The auspicious function began with the rendering of the Mangalcharan by the spiritual Guru which was followed by a melodious invocation by members of the Srisrimal family Smt Vanitha Srisrimal and Smt Preethi SriSrimal. Speaking on the occasion Dr Ananth Badrinath, expressed the institution’s humble pranams and extended a cordial welcome to the Saints on behalf of Dr SS Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya. He captured the spirit of the function with a quote from the Bhagvad Gita that when a person is totally devoted and has complete faith in his noble objective, the elements of the universe will join hands in making his dream a reality, he described the support from the Srisrimal family as a perfect example of giving at the right time, right place and to the right person (entity).
Smt Surekha Mehta, Trustee, Sankara Nethralaya Women’s Auxiliary (SWAN) extended a warm welcome to the Gurus, the members of the Srisrimal family and the gathering, quoting the scriptures she highlighted that wealth acquired by a person becomes meaningful only when it is given in charity to the deserving.
Speaking on the occasion Smt Akila Ganesan, Director-Administration, Sankara Nethralaya highlighted the fact that Sankara Nethralaya endeared itself to people from all walks of society and received their wholehearted support, she illustrated her point by sharing the touching story of a poor woman named Lakshmi from Urakai village in Tamil Nadu who had contributed the entire sum that she had saved for offering to the Tirupati temple to Sankara Nethralaya, with a most touching observation that after seeing the services rendered by the institution, especially to the needy she felt that supporting the cost free community services of Sankara Nethralaya is like offering prayers or donating to a temple. Gratefully acknowledging and thanking the generosity of Sri Narendra SriSrimal family, Srimathi Akila Ganesan highlighted the philosophy of the institution, its missionary spirit and how it was regarded as an Alaya and serving there as worship by its employees. She gave a detailed account of the current expansion projects at Sankara Nethralaya aimed at serving the visually impaired across the country, underlining that Sankara Nethralaya was run for the society and by the society and hence it became imperative to seek funds to support its growing needs, she highlighted the ambitious 140 bedded community ophthalmology hospital project coming up at St Thomas Mount, with 10 operation theatres with a goal of performing over 20,000 cost free surgeries a year to benefit the indigent and a new unit coming up at Thane in Maharashtra.
Dr Ananth Badrinath spoke in detail on the India centric research being carried out by the Vision Research Foundation, stressing that it was critical for research to translate into patient care, he underlined that many findings developed at the institution like the ‘Rapid Diagnostic kit’ have already translated to real time benefits. He pointed out the Leber Congenital Amaurosis research project involving studies on RPE65 modules today greatly enhanced gene therapy for clinical support as a good example of the same. He thanked Shri Ashok Mehta for his generous grant to support research and appealed for support to the institution’s research endeavours aimed at the common good.
Dr Nivedita Narayan, Senior Consultant at the Cornea Department at the Sri A Sivasailam Block being named on the day detailed the world class services/facilities that would be available at the department and the role of the CU Shah Eye bank in supplementing its services in cornea transplant. An old friend, supporter and member of the Board, Medical Research Foundation Sri Ashok Mehta, expressed his wholehearted thanks to the Srisrimal family for the large grant, he introduced Sri Narendra SriSrimal as a young entrepreneur and dynamic philanthropist who rose to great heights in his profession as a Pharma Distributor, by sheer dint of hard work and imbibed the noble idea of “Giving back to society” from his illustrious father Sri Parasmal SriSrimal.
Addressing the gathering, Sri Narendra SriSrimal said he rejoiced being at Sankara Nethralaya, he expressed in all humility that it was his privilege and pleasure to serve such a renowned institution like Sankara Nethralaya doing enormous work towards making the nation blindness free and rendering yeoman services to the poor visually impaired all over the country and that he happily grabbed the opportunity to be a part of this great endeavour. He expressed his desire to be hand in hand with the institution in its future endeavours in this direction and gave a pleasant surprise to the gathering with his announcement that the family would also donate towards setting up the optical shop at the ground floor of the Sri A Sivasailam Block.
Dr Gyan Jain, a senior member at the Jain Samaj, lauded His Holiness Gachapathi Jainacharya Sri Nityananda Surishwarji Maharaj as an epitome of truth and an icon of non-violence, who took to the ascetic order in the path of self realisation at the tender age of 9. He added that the Swamiji through his perseverance and motivation was instrumental in establishing several educational institutions and hospitals to benefit the poor at the birth place of Lord Mahaveera.
Giving his divine lecture the Swamiji said he was overwhelmed to be present at the Jyothi Mandir – ‘Temple of Light’ – Sankara Nethralaya, which brought back the light of vision to all, especially the underprivileged of society. Eulogizing Dr SS Badrinath’s yeoman services that were incomparable just as the heavenly bodies Sun and Moon, he pointed that he was a classic gem among mankind. He remarked that the “La – bha”(Profit) earned through one’s profession or business would blossom into “Bha – La” (Strength) only when one generously donated his earnings for the welfare of the community.
Delivering the vote of thanks Dr KS. Vasan, Managing Director, Sankara Nethralaya, expressed the institution’s gratitude to the munificence of the SriSrimal family and that he looked forward to a long term partnership in service with them.