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‘Visionman’ by Dr. Prashant Pradhan is the winning entry of our Padman writing contest. Dr. Pradhan is an orthopaedic surgeon by profession. Since childhood, reading and getting inspired from the stories about great philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie and achievers like Shahrukh Khan, he has the aim of achieving something for the Indian society. He is constantly searching for ways he can be helpful to the society.

Why ‘Visionman’? Do tell us more about the story.

I have always been inclined to read about stories of people who have brought a revolution that has helped the common needy people. A man needs to have a vision to do something like this. Also, Dr Venkataswamy was an ophthalmologist dealing with vision (eyes) so the name VISIONMAN suits perfectly to him in both aspects. In rural India, lot of people suffer from blindness, including small children as well as old people, which can be cured if timely detected and treated. Sankara Nethralaya, the discovery of Dr Venkataswamy caters to millions of such people who cannot afford even minimum charges to get their eyes treated.

Is there anything more precious than giving sight to a person so that he can see and enjoy the beautiful creation of God? He could have easily passed his life with all luxuries without worrying about anyone else. A person, including me, has tendency to wish to have a comfortable life. But who will fulfil wishes of other needy people? That’s the government’s job to look after—most of us tend to think like this. Dr Venkataswamy had a different view. He thought of himself to be a God’s worker whose duty was to serve. That is what he did his entire life and today even after his death, his noble deeds are still being carried forward.

Who is that one person who has inspired you the most in life? Please tell us more about him/her.

I have been inspired by quite a few personalities like Dr Venkataswamy, Mr Shahrukh Khan, Dr Devi Shetty. But when you ask about one person who has inspired me the most, it has to be my father. He has been taking care of my family facing all the difficulties and problems himself without complaining. He was a school dropout because of poor condition of my grandfather who stayed in a hut in a small village.

My dad left his village and traveled thousands of kilometers to find some work without having a single penny in his pocket. He learnt everything on his own by experiences, worked really hard to earn for his family. He made sure that I and my brother get the highest education whatever may be the financial condition. Today I am a self-dependent doctor because of him. I didn’t have to struggle for anything because he took all the pains to make sure my life goes easy. He always expresses gratitude to God even in times of adversity. He says, “God has given you life, he will provide strength.” I owe my existence to him.

The Padman story revolves around the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a Tamil Nadu based social activist who invented low-cost sanitary pads. What do you think about him and his cause?

I was never aware of menstruation and its consequences till I turned 19. Although I had studied it in my HSc biology textbook, I had never really given a thought. Just imagine an educated school pass out person not knowing anything about it. It was only after I started my MBBS career; in the second year when we started attending gynaecology wards and seeing gynaecology patients I came to know about it. Had I not entered this medical field I would have never given a thought about menstruation which is the case with most of the educated people who are not in the medical field.

So when I read about Arunachalam Muruganantham and his social activities, my first reaction was a shocking one. A person who didn’t even have his primary schooling, born in a poor family, a male, whom the menstruation issue would be least affecting decides to bring such a big revolution on his own without any support is something unbelievable. I salute his initiative. I always had the misconception that you have to be rich in order to bring a change in the society but Muruga’s story has inspired me that you just need to have a vision and courage to do anything. I wish to see myself doing something beneficial for the society.

Can you tell us more about you and the social causes you actively involve yourself in?

I am an Orthopaedic surgeon by qualification. Frankly speaking I haven’t done anything substantial on my own. Ten years of my life have been contributed to getting my MBBS and specialization done. But I do take part in health related social activities whenever I get opportunity. For e.g. during my MBBS internship, I took part in School Health Programme of Gujarat government during which I travelled into the interior and remote villages of Gujarat to do health check-up for the school kids of villages. I stayed in different village areas for almost two months and covered many schools. I have been a part of similar health check-up camps. I just finished my Orthopaedics training and have joined a municipal hospital with the aim to devote my initial years for the needy and poor people and to study what are the causes that health-care is not that easily available to the poor people and how can it be improved.

What is your ‘vision’ of being helpful to the society?

Being a doctor, health is what gets into my eyes and brain easily. My vision of being helpful for the society is “Affordable healthcare.” I don’t know how but I wish to do something that can make healthcare facilities accessible at ground root level. Many people in villages suffer from diseases undiagnosed and untreated. Somehow I want that every human being living in any remote area of the country should have the facility to access a decent health care system. At least if I can do this in my branch i.e. Orthopaedics then also I shall have a sense of satisfaction. I have faith that God and my parent’s blessings will guide me in fulfilling my vision.

You can read Visionman here.

 

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