Accolade for accessible health care

Receiving the award, Bala, president of Sankara Nethralaya USA in Atlanta, said, “I am very honoured. It is one of the greatest moments in my life.”
Photo: Martin Louis
Photo: Martin Louis

CHENNAI: A famous quote by American politician Woodrow Wilson goes, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” In the realm of health care, recognition of excellence is not just a formality; it’s a celebration of dedication, innovation, and compassion.

The Sankara Ratna Awards organised by Sankara Nethralaya stand as a beacon of acknowledgment in the field of ophthalmology, honouring individuals who have made significant contributions towards vision care and research.

Gagandeep Singh Bedi, additional chief secretary to Government, Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, quoted Woodrow Wilson’s words when he appreciated the Sankara Ratna 2023 recipient Bala Reddy Indurti on Saturday. Receiving the award, Bala, president of Sankara Nethralaya USA in Atlanta, said, “I am very honoured. It is one of the greatest moments in my life.”

Bala, an engineer renowned for his extensive voluntary work within the Indian American community, was invited by Sankara Nethralaya USA (also known as Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust Inc) in 2016 to join their noble cause in combating preventable blindness in the Indian subcontinent. The team at Sankara Nethralaya expressed gratitude to Bala for his contributions, including the establishment of the adopt-a-village scheme through Mobile Eye Surgical Units, mobilising prominent donors.

Mentioning the previous recipients of the award, Dr Rajiv Raman, senior consultant, Sankara Nethralaya, said, “Every year the award ceremony is special for us. The first recipient of the award was V Shankar, chairman of South Indian Education Society. Ratan Tata, AM Naik, SV Acharya, Madhavan Nair, Hanuman Prasad Agarwal, SP Muthuraman, TV Subramanian, MS Jayaraman, VV Ranganathan, and Deepak S Parekh are the other recipients.”

Acknowledging that giving back to the society is the most important service, Bala shared, “When I started working for the Sankara Nethralaya, I could see the vision of SS Badrinath. In the USA, we had 25 trustees and seven chapters. In the last six years after I became the president, we expanded from seven places to 21 places. We are trying to expand to more and more cities,” shared Bala.

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, Gagandeep said, “Service of mankind is service to god’. Standing here at this ceremony, I am reminded of two categories of people. One category includes people like Bala Reddy. All the way from the USA, he thought about his brothers here in India and was involved in activities for the welfare of them. Next category includes doctors and paramedical staff. I always feel like they are born with a silver spoon. Because in this profession people get salaries and also the blessings of people.”

Sharing the same sentiments, guest of honour, Ambati Rayudu, former Indian cricketer echoed, “I think the whole world should appreciate doctors a lot more. In the age of social media, the real substance often gets lost. All of us need to recognise that doctors are the true heroes.”

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The New Indian Express