His biography will bring about a transformation

The life story of G. Venkataswamy, founder of Aravind Eye Hospital, would be a beacon and bring about a transformation in the lives of youth, said the former President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, on Thursday.

Releasing the biography of Dr. Venkataswamy, ‘Vizhi Velvi,' written by M. Sivalingam and published by Vikatan Publications, here, Mr. Kalam recalled how the ophthalmologist, who hailed from a small village, transformed all challenges into success.

The person, who built the Aravind Eye Care System, which had created a record in its mission of eliminating needless blindness, never complained about anything in his life. He created a self-sustaining system, in which money received from 30 per cent of patients subsidised the treatment of 70 per cent of patients, which was a model for many business schools across the world. The former President pointed out that between April 2009 and March 2010, the Aravind Eye Care System had treated over 2.7 million outpatients and performed over 3.9 lakh surgeries.

This stupendous task was possible for a villager like Dr. Venkataswamy because of his upbringing. His father, Govindappa, Mr. Kalam recalled, had a small library at home with Tamil classics like the Kambaramayanam and the Naaladiyar. He nurtured the reading habit among his children and bought them only books whenever he went out.

Small library

Mr. Kalam said that he had administered an oath to over five lakh children and parents that they would have a small library of 20 books near their puja room. All members of the family should use the library for at least one hour a day. The library should be the ancestral property handed down through generations and a treasure trove of knowledge. Stating that he had lost himself in the biography, Mr. Kalam said that good books were true teachers.

Mayilvahanan Natarajan, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, who received the first copy of the book, recalled how Dr. Venkataswamy served all without any discrimination. The ‘Kannoli Gandhi's' life should be known to all and hence, an English translation of the book should be made available, he suggested. The Aravind model was now being followed not only in developing nations but also in developed nations like the USA and UK, said G. Natchiar, vice-chairman.

The author, Mr. Sivalingam, explained how association with Dr. Venkataswamy transformed his life. G. Srinivasan, president, Govel Trust, proposed a vote of thanks.

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