It is the 100th birth anniversary of Dr Govinda Venkataswamy, the Indian ophthalmologist and founder of Aravind Eye Hospitals, the largest provider of eye care in the world. Born on October 1, 1918, in Vadamalapuram, Tamil Nadu, he created a model for healthcare that goes against all economic logic. An innovative high quality, high volume, low-cost service delivery model that has restored sight to many people across the world. Dr Venkataswamy’s inception and the result of his service are felt across the globe. On this special day, he has been remembered and honoured by Google with an amazing doodle that just replicates his work life. Sir William Henry Perkin: Google Doodle Honours Chemist Who Accidentally Discovered 'Mauveine' Synthetic Dye.
Aravind Eye Care System, a registered non-profit organisation, has seen millions of patients and performed surgeries, most of them ultra-subsidised or free. People pay to what they have to get their sight. If they cannot, they still get the gift of sight. As a government employee, he pioneered the concept of eye camps and received a Padma Shri from the Government of India. In 1976, he found Aravind, a project when he was 58 in Madurai, Tamil Nadu along with his four siblings and their spouses. He was inspired by one of India’s legendary philosophers, Sri Aurobindo, whose reflections on the transience influenced many thinkers. The hospital began as an 11-bed clinic that operated on a rented house. As per reports, no bank wanted to lend him money.
Aravind would run as a Trust that controlled the operations, and the surpluses would be used for more services. Today, the Aravind Eye Care System includes a network of 7 tertiary care eye hospitals, 6 secondary eye care centres, and 70 primary eye care centres in South India. Gradually, he built an extensive network of partnerships with institutions in India and abroad that continue to work with his organisation. Dr Venkataswamy’s life work has been documented in a film and a book, both rightly titled, Infinite Vision. The service and an infinite vision that is gifted by Dr Govinda Venkataswamy to our country cannot be covered in a few sentences. His mission to eliminate blindness is now taken care by passionate doctors at the Eye Care Centres and Hospitals.