On the busy Lake View Road in West Mambalam, pilgrims of a certain kind make their way to a landmark in the neighbourhood.

India’s freedom may have released millions from the bondage of colonial rule, but also laid a huge mantle of responsibility on the socially conscious.

An effective experiment combining a bold vision and the strong values of one such social stalwart took off in this arterial hub that has now shed its rural vestiges. A public health centre founded by M.C. Subrahmanyam continues to serve under the aegis of its president and medical director, M.K. Srinivasan.

Mr. Subrahmanyam, or ‘MC’ as he was fondly known, was a Gandhian who donned many roles in a long life. A journalist, he was associated with The Sunday Times and The Indian Review and also served in the ministry of industries and commerce. Propelled by close associate T.T. Krishnamachari who witnessed the dire straits of healthcare in the locality when campaigning for the general election in 1952, Mr. Subrahmanyam forayed to make a difference in 1953.

“Whatever influence he had, he used it for the Centre. We never knew him to make any personal gain out of it,” says S. Vasudevan, vice-president of the health centre.

What started with an ambitious vision in a rudimentary structure has now expanded to a voluntary non-commercial non-profit hospital catering to the needs of people from the lower and middle classes. This is achieved through aid from philanthropists and the long hours put in by employees and volunteers. Spread over around 16 grounds, the Centre also cares for children with special needs through the BVSN Murthy Centre.

The hundreds who flock to the Centre for its brand of care aver by the superior treatment they receive. Over the years, the Centre has registered the treads of many from places including Kanyakumari, Kuthanoor and Theni.

On Mr. Subrahmanyam’s birth centenary on Wednesday, a cath lab was inaugurated. “This will surely augment our Centre’s facilities,” a volunteer says.