Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust
Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust

Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust
Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust
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Date: 06/09/2016
A pat for budding and seasoned talent, divine enthralling music and contributions for a cause mark
MS Amma centennial celebrations at Atlanta!
MS Amma centennial celebrations at Atlanta

The Atlanta chapter of the Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust presented an extraordinary, 3 day centennial homage to Bharat Ratna Dr.M.S.Subbulakshmi. The curtains went up on the well prepared and organized event on the 3rd of September 2016 with a brief talk on Sankara Nethralaya and its achievements in research, education and cost free community eye care to indigent patients, by Dr. Seshu Sarma, Vice-President, Sankara Nethralaya, Ophthalmic Mission Trust, Inc, the fund raising arm of Sankara Nethralaya in the USA. Dr. Sarma also gave an interesting account about the ‘Mobile Eye Surgical Unit’ (MESU) which performs sight reviving cataract surgeries, totally cost free, right at the doorsteps of patients living in the most remote regions of India, with no access to quality eye care.

This was followed by a warm greeting and welcome to the Rasikas assembled in large numbers and dignitaries by Dr. Rao, President of the Hindu Temple of Atlanta. Speaking on the occasion Chief Guest of the day, Mr. R.Srinivasan, Consul, Indian Consulate, Atlanta, lauded Smt. M. S. for making India and Indians proud by her music. The most touching and inspiring speech of the afternoon however, was the one given by eleven-year old, Raveena Allie, who was born with no eyes. Her life story of being brought up by loving foster parents in the US and working her way up by overcoming her disability to become a honor student in middle school and excelling in innumerable extracurricular activities filled the listeners with a sense of confidence that if one is determined, nothing in life is insurmountable. The audience gave her a standing ovation for her rousing message and indomitable spirit.

MS Amma centennial celebrations at Atlanta

This was followed by the main event of the day, an enthralling concert for three hours and more with a generous inclusion of MS Amma favorites by Padmabhushan Sudha Ragunathan and party; the resounding applause and requests for more songs captured the spirit of the day. Dr. Ram Sriram, President of the Carnatic Music Association of Georgia (CAMAGA), made the concluding remarks and a brief review of the concert. Mrs. Anu Nathan, chair of the essay competition being held to highlight the contributions of Smt. M. S. Subbalakshmi, as part of the Centenary celebrations announced the winners for different age groups

The winners of the essay competition were:

1st Place: Neel Krishnan
2nd Place: Anand Krishnan
3rd Place: Maitri Sridhar

Middle School
1st Place: Nikitha Sridhar
2nd Place: Priyanka Yagneswaran
3rd Place: Shobana Santhanam

High School
1st Place: Nitheyaa Shree
2nd Place: Shashank Ganesan
3rd Place: Shruthi Santhanam

Another recognition being bestowed as part of the Centenary celebration the ‘Bharat Ratna M. S. Subbulakshmi award’ for years of contribution to Indian classical music was awarded to Smt. Subhashini Krishnamurthy – musician, composer, Vocalist, teacher, and Veena player. Ms. Subhashini was presented with a plaque and a blue silk saree, similar to the one that was popularized by Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi. The awards were given to the winners by Smt. Sudha Raghunathan who spoke admiringly of the winners and their accomplishments.

The second day of the three-day event showcased Atlanta’s local talent. The performers were young children and young adults trained in different schools of Carnatic music by eminent teachers in Atlanta. It was most inspiring to listen to children as young as 6 years of age, rendering compositions made popular by Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi with devotion and dedication.

The last and final day of the three-day event was highlighted by a one-hour video presentation on the life and accomplishments of Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi, put together by the renowned dramatist and director, Sri Syam Yellamraju. The video presentation was followed by group singing of the compositions of the great composer, Sri Annamacharya, popularized by Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi. The performers were local music teachers and musicians. It was a most befitting tribute to the memory of Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi.

At the conclusion of the program,Dr.Sarma thanked her co-trustees of SN OM Trust,Moorthy Rekapalli and Bala Indurti and the President of CAMAGA,Dr.Ram Sriram and all the others who contributed to the 3 day event. She expressed her deep gratitude to all the donors who contributed generously to the Sahasra Nayanam project and the Chitoor Gift of Sight project. She further expressed her sincere appreciation to journalist Sri Mahadev Desai for his excellent coverage of the three-day event and Mr. Ravi Penumarthy for taking superb pictures of the event.

Date: 08/12/2014
Ballet of Historic Epics fetch feast for eyes at Atlanta
Historic Epics

Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust (SN OM Trust), in an effort to raise funds for the India based non-profitable eye institute Sankara Netralaya, conducted a mesmerizing Dance Festival in Atlanta, on November 16th, 2014. This dance festival featured a garland of fascinating mini ballets in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi styles and was presented by some of the most talented dancers from Atlanta. Atlanta’s famous Porter Sanford III Performing Arts & Community Center was the venue for this unique event.

The program consisted of 6 beautifully choreographed mini dance ballets. Dr. Ravi Sarma welcomed the donors and talked briefly about Sankara Nethralaya and the great eye care services provided by the same in India. Dr. Seshu Sarma introduced the Dance Ballet and welcomed the audience to the special invocation dance ballet “Swagatham”, beautifully choreographed by Bhavini Rajan of Samarpanam- School of Fine Arts. Sri Yellamraju, the MC for the evening, introduced the next dance ballet “Ganesha Pancharatnam”. Sri Maha Ganesha Pancharatnam was composed by Sri Adi Sankaracharya in the 8th Century. It is a sloka containing five passages on Lord Ganesha (Pancha) which are gems (Ratnam). Ganesha Pancharatnam was preceded by Mallari, an invocatory item, customarily performed when a deity is taken on a procession in the temples. This Dance Ballet was Choreographed by Smt. Revathi Ramachandran and Smt. Chandrika Chandran and presented by the students of Natyanjali Academy of Dance.

The next dance ballet for the evening was Kumara Sambhavam. This is based on an epic, written by Kalidasa, a great Sanskrit poet. This epic talks about the birth of Kumara (Karthikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati), and his victory over the Demon Tarakasura. The casting for this dance ballet was exemplary. This ballet was choreographed by Smt. Revathy Komanduri of Sri Vani Dance Academy.

This was followed by the next item “Saptaswara Jhari”. Saptaswaras are the 7 notes. Jhari means, the flowing river. This ballet was written by Dr.Umaiyyunni and sung by Mastero Dr. Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna. This dance ballet was choreographed by the illustrious Siddarth and Padmaja Kelam and was presented by the students of Kalaivani dance academy. The fifth item for the event was “Siva Panchakshari”. “Namah Sivaya” is a supreme mantra containing 5 holy syllables (panchaaksharas). This ballet invoked and offered salutations to the Perfect God Siva. The audience was spell bound after watching this item. This magnificent item was choreographed by Sri. Sheejith Krishna and was presented by Nritya Sankalpa Dance Academy under the guidance and training by Smt. Savitha Viswanathan.

The last item for the evening was “Sitarama Kalyanam”. The story of Rama and Sita teaches us the three fold Dharma (code of conduct) pertaining to the individual, the family and the society. The Kalyana Utsavam is a symbolic unification of Shiva and Shakti-the Male and Female principles of universe, for the welfare of the community. This colorful ballet was picture perfect. The songs, music and the choreography blended in very well and enthralled the audience. This ballet was choreographed by Smt. Sasikala Penumarthy and was presented by the students of Academy of Kuchipudi Dance. This was followed by the traditional mangalam.

It was a feast to the eyes of the houseful audience to see all performers on stage. A standing ovation with a few minutes of continued applause at the end of the show was a true reflection of the immense appreciation of the audience. Everyone present was in awe and a collective feeling of having witnessed a classic presentation pervaded in the performing arts center. Dr. Sarma thanked all the volunteers and the donors who made this event possible.

The core team of Atlanta branch of SN OM Trust includes Dr. Seshu Sarma (Vice President and trustee), Moorthy Rekapalli (trustee), Ashok Kumar (Member), Sundar Sundararaghavan (Member), Uma Narayan (Member), Raj Rengarajan (Member), Meher Lanka (Member), Krishnadas Pisharodi (Member), Madhu Iyer (Member), Ram Mallappa (Member) and Bob Nayar (Member).

The theme and format of the program was conceived and designed by Dr. Seshu Sarma. The production team of Nritya Kadambam which includes Padma Rallapalli, Lakshmi VedalaSmitha, Yellamraju, Ravi Penumarthi, Mahesh Kommajosyula, Namrata Satuluri, Kamal Satuluri, Malathi Tadavarthi, Raghavababu Tadavarthi and Ramakanth Rallapalli, has put together one of its kind show. The donor response for this event was amazing. For the first time in USA, OM Trust has collected more than 52,000 dollars worth of donation for this noble organization in a single event. This cultural event has set the bar high and the organizers and the audiences are looking forward to many more such great events year after year.

Date: 16/09/2014
Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust conducts a musical fundraiser
Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust conducts a musical fundraiser
The mellifluous tunes of the Nadaswaram, India’s pride are so captivating that they are believed to have the mystical quality of enhancing the output of crops in the paddy fields and making cows produce more milk. The Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust organized a rare Nadaswaram concert by brothers Kala Saraswathy, Kalaimamani Kasim and Babu disciples and grandsons of the legendary Dr. Sheikh Chinna Moulana Saheb on August 17, 2014 at the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple Auditorium, Lanham, MD. Shri Kasim and Shri Babu come from a traditional family of musicians with an unbroken and glorious history running to 300 years and are among the front ranking Nadaswaram artists in the world. The virtuoso performers are noted for both raga alapana and kirti rendering in gayaki style especially in Dhikshithar kirtis. The event was well attended by over 250 members. This is the first time that the Trust presented such a concert and the program was well appreciated and enjoyed by the audience. Mr. S. V. Acharya, President gave the welcome address and highlighted the issue of the visually impaired population in the Indian sub continent. Mr. K. G .Venkataraman, Executive Trustee explained the various donation plans and how the public can support this noble cause. The program concluded with a Vote of thanks by Mr. Shankar Iyer, Executive trustee, highlighting the versatility exhibited by the artists. The program succeeded in spreading the message of Sankara Nethralaya’s philosophy and commitment towards total eradication of blindness and the need to support its noble crusade, among the Indian population of the region.

Date: 02/09/2014
Young Indian American sibling’s enthralling vocal concert takes compassion to “Lofty Heights”
Lofty Heights

The Srinivasans namely Shri Kumar Srinivasan a senior pharma professional and Srimathi Bhuvana Srinivasan a software programmer, settled for long in the Philadelphia area are great connoisseurs of Carnatic music, another common passion that the couple share is their empathy to Sankara Nethralaya’s cause and philosophy, hailing from Chennai they are well aware of Sankara Nethralaya’s contribution to the cause of eradicating blindness and hold Dr SS.Badrinath in high esteem. The noble couple are regular audience at the various Carnatic programs organized by the Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust in the USA and donate liberally at these programs. Their common passion and empathy seemed to have had a positive impact on their daughter Sriranjani and son Nachikethan and like true chips of the old block the youngsters decided that their Vocal Arangetram to be held in India would be dedicated to Sankara Nethralaya’s noble cause of eradicating blindness and providing the light of life to the visually impaired.

The vocal Arangetram of Sriranjani and Nachikethan, sishyas of Smt. Kiranavali Vidyasankar the renowned vocalist and initiator of “Lofty heights’ an initiative to foster awareness, interest and a lifelong involvement in Indian performing arts and culture particularly in the Philadelphia area was held under the auspices of Vidwan Srimushanam Sri Raja Rao and Cleveland Sri V.V. Sundaram at the Music Academy Mini hall, Chennai. Handbills on the programme exhibited prominently in the venue making an earnest appeal to the audience to donate towards the cause of providing cost free eye care to indigent patients by Sankara Nethralaya had a spontaneous effect and raised a handsome amount as donation.

Highly touched by the thoughtful gesture of a young girl barely in her teens and her bubbly younger brother, Dr. SS.Badrinath met the Srinivasans with their children at the Sankara Nethralaya main campus where a beaming and jubilant Sriranjani handed over the proceeds collected at the Arangetram directly to him. He spent quality time with the young ambassadors of his cherished cause, enquiring about their studies, their special interest and goals for the future, he expressed his high appreciation to the young performers and presented them with a copy of “Insight” the biography of the institution they had raised funds for. Speaking to the corporate communication department after the meeting, young Sriranjani expressed that instances of glaucoma in the family and the pioneering role of Sankara Nethralaya in this field about which she learnt from her father prompted her to do something towards its cost free community Eye care services.

Date: 21/07/2014
Sankara Nethralaya showcased in two major US events
Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America

As part of its ongoing efforts towards spreading the good word about Sankara Nethralaya by gaining a larger mind space and foothold among the Indian milieu in the USA, the SN OM Trust the fund raising arm of Sankara Nethralaya participated in two immensely popular events among its target audience, the annual conference of the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) and the “India Abroad” “Person of the year” ceremony. Participation at the FeTNA 2014 held at the Chaifety Arena, Saint Louis, Missouri State on 20th June 2014 helped in reaching out the Sankara Nethralaya newsletter to 5000+ members of the association across the USA and the one page appeal made in the souvenir released on the occasion to 1,400 members who attended the conference. In-depth presentation of Sankara Nethralaya’s history, growth, philosophy, goals, achievements in various areas and a fervent appeal to donate were made by Mr. Nahush and Mr. Vikram good friends and well wishers of the institution and Dr Robert Churchill from the University of Missouri, Sankara Nethralaya’s partner in collaborative research. SN OM Trust member Singer Prabhu’s mellifluous voice and crisp appeal won many hearts from the 1,400 strong audience and assurances to organize charity shows for Sankara Nethralaya’s cause from more than 10 Sangam presidents present at the venue.

Participation in the high profile ‘Person of the Year’ award ceremony conducted by and “India Abroad’ helped in showcasing Sankara Nethralaya to a large gathering of high profile and high net worth Indians gathered at the “The Pierre- A Taj Hotel’ at New York for the high power event. While the screening of the appeal made by Shri Amitabh Bachchan’ at the venue took Sankara Nethralaya’s story to the large gathering at the venue, the interview of Dr SS.Badrinath published in the special issue of ‘India Abroad’ reached out to its large reader base. The SN OM trust would also get 6 pages of advertisement space in the ‘India Abroad’ paper for year 2014 under the agreement of participation in the event.

Date: 14/03/2014
Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust Inc, USA reaches its message across to the youth of the nation
The Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust as part of its ongoing efforts towards reaching out and educating the public on Sankara Nethralaya and its mission and objectives and raising funds in the USA for its community ophthalmology initiatives in India, sponsored the immensely popular inter-collegiate dance competition organized by MAYURI on the 1st of March 2014 at the University of Maryland HOFF Theater. The performances were of a very high order and the entire event was organized most professionally. The event helped the Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust to reach out to a gathering of more than 400 people comprising students from John Hopkins, Rutgers, UT, Georgia Tech, Tuft, University of Pitts, Emory and the College of NJ, their friends and family members. The SN OM Trust booth registered good footfall and the visitors were given a detailed account about Sankara Nethralaya, its philosophy, goals and objectives, role of the SN OM Trust after which an appeal for financial assistance was made. The collateral materials displayed at the venue, the detailed video presentation and a brief talk by Shri S.V Acharya, Founder & President, Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust played a major role in the visitors getting a firsthand knowledge about the institution and its march towards Banishing blindness.

Date: 06/03/2014
The Madras Round Table – 1 reiterates its commitment to eradicating blindness in the country
The Madras Round Table – 1

The Madras Round Table -1 and its illustrious member Shri Arvind Swami are no new faces to the Sankara Nethralaya family, the service organization and its large hearted member have been old friends of the institution and have been consistently supporting its cause for many years. The Madras Round Table -1 celebrated its 55th glorious years of service by sponsoring 55 Cataract surgeries in year 2012. Shri Arvind Swami and Shri Manu Wassan, Chairman Madras Round Table 1 accompanied by a few Tablers visited Sankara Nethralaya on the 5th of March 2014 and made a generous donation towards performing Cataract surgeries in the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU). Speaking on the occasion Shri Arvind Swami had a high word of praise for Sankara Nethralaya’s pioneering and innovative initiative of taking high quality eye care right to the door steps of the poor and indigent patients living in remote areas, patients who cannot afford to make a trip to a base hospital. He reminisced his carefree visits to Sankara Nethralaya straight from school and time spent at the open space where the imposing research center stands now. He expressed that it was a pleasure and privilege to be of service to an institution in whose inception his late Father Shri VD.Swami played a major role. Shri Swami closed his talk with an assurance that the Madras Round Table 1 would endeavour to sponsor an outdoor eye camp every year. Speaking on the occasion Shri Manu Wassan observed that it was an honour to share the dais with Dr SS.Badrinath and added that the amount being donated by the Madras Round Table 1 would go towards sponsoring the cost of conducting 90 surgeries to be performed over a week.

The Mobile Eye Surgical unit, jointly developed by Sankara Nethralaya and IIT-Madras, has conducted over 800 surgeries since December 14, 2011. The camp sponsored by the MRT-1 will be held at Alangayam village in Vellore district between April 1 and June 23, 2014.

Date: 03/03/2014
Quality eye care rolls by road to the closed communities of rural Tamil Nadu
The Mobile Eye Surgical Unit
The Mobile Eye Surgical Unit, Sankara Nethralaya’s operation theatre on wheels took off on yet another sojourn of relief and care to the underprivileged citizens living in the backward and interiors pockets of the State. The Outdoor Eye Care team comprising of Dr P.S. Rajesh, Senior Consultant, V.Sivakumar, Administrator, Jaslok Community Ophthalmology Center, Shri Chandra Kumar, Social worker, Shri Padmanabhan, Driver of the Mobile Eye Surgical Unit and Shri Venkatraman, Operation Theatre Assistant left for Vettavelam and Udayarpalayam two interior hamlets located on the Villupuram-Tiruvannamalai route on the 26th of January 2014. The outdoor eye care team was received with overwhelming enthusiasm and cheer by the local populace suffering from lack of access to quality eyecare in both hamlets. The screening camp at Vettavelam was supported by the Sai Trust and Shri Manigandan a local political functionary, a total of 419 patients were screened between the 26th of January to the 3rd of February and 43 patients diagnosed with Cataract were operated upon at the MESU. The post operative screening was completed on the 5th of February and the relief crew left for Udayarpalayam its next port of call on the evening of the same day.
The Mobile Eye Surgical Unit

The Udayarpalayam camp had a special significance for the Sankara Nethralaya team as the Mahaperiyava of Kanchi had camped here, worshipped at the local Shiva Temple and performed Tapas at the dhyana mandapam located at the centre of the temple tank by reaching it on a motorized raft. The camp was actively supported by the Zamindar of Udayarpalayam a man held in high esteem and love by the local people and the mobile surgical units were parked from the 6th to the 14th of February at the land provided by him for the purpose. In keeping with the dictum that when you do a good thing you would find support coming from many quarters, Shri Subramanian a member of the Lion’s Club and local resident provided excellent food and refreshments to the entire eye care team for the entire period of the camp. A total of 476 people were thoroughly examined between the 6th and 8th of February and surgeries were performed on 95 patients between the 9th to the 13th of February followed by postoperative examination on the 14th of February.

The camp conducted in these two places captured the spirit of the Mobile eye Surgical Unit by taking eye care to people who had little or no interaction with the outside world beyond the limits of their town and practically no access to health care, a good portion of the youth in these villages had migrated outside of the village in search of livelihood and many of the patients did not have escorts to take them back to their homes post surgery, the Sankara Nethralaya team rose to the occasssion by arranging transport and personally escorting such patients to their homes. Service to mankind is said to be service to God and the camp provided the team with the rare opportunity of offering worship at the local temple and the Maragatha Lingam not known to many in the outside world. The overwhelmed locals in both villages thanked the doctor and the team for the great gesture of binging quality eye care right to their door step and bringing the light of life back into their lives, they made an emphatic appeal to the team to explore the possibility of having a screening facility right at their village around the year which could refer patients needing surgery to the base hospital at Chennai. The highlight of the camp was that the post operative examination conducted in both the camps indicated zero complication and a jubilant and highly fulfilled mobile eye care team returned with great memories of the picturesque villages, the Zamindar’s old palace, worshipping at the local temple and the great opportunity of being able to bring back vision to the simple village folk.

Date: 24/02/2014
Asian American Resource Centre, Austin, Texas honours an old friend and well wisher of Sankara Nethralaya
Asian American Resource Centre

In what could be a fitting 70th year anniversary gift to a man who has given his best to the country of his birth and the country he chose to make his second home, the prestigious Asian American Resource Centre honoured Shri Sam Sockalingam Kannappan an old friend of Sankara Nethralaya and a driving force of the Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust as a "pioneer in software for engineering and an early leader of the Indian Houston Community" in a photo exhibit titled 'History of Indo-Americans in Texas' tracing the genesis of early Asian settlers and their contribution to the State. The photo exhibit on display included a wonderful photograph of the young Kannappans with their little children, a picture of the imposing Rajagopuram of the Sri Meenakshi Temple at Pearland, Texas which he strived hard to establish and served as Founder Secretary and a current photograph of this most prominent American Indian.

Sankara Nethralaya and the Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust express their hearty Congratulations to Shri Sam Kannappan for receiving one more decorative feather to his glorious cap.

Date: 14/02/2014
Seeds of effort sown by OM Trustee bear fruit
The American Association for Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) has been a long time friend of Sankara Nethralaya and a supporter of its cause. The members of the Long Island chapter of the AAPI responded most generously to a presentation of Sankara Nethralaya’s future plans and cost free community ophthalmology initiatives and earnest appeal for funds to support the same made by Sankara Nethralaya OM Trustee and a member of the AAPI Dr Rajendra Modi some time back and dispatched a check collected from its members to him. Readers may remember that the AAPI had made a similar donation to the SN OM Trust through the good doctor last year too.

Date: 03/01/2014
A group of Dallas Indians get a melodious introduction to Sankara Nethralaya
Metroplex Tamil Sangam Dallas

Members of the Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust organized a light music program at the Metroplex Tamil Sangam (MTS) Dallas, on 22nd Dec. 2013, as part of ongoing efforts towards popularizing Sankara Nethralaya and creating awareness on its philosophy and services. OM Trust Trustees Mr. Santhanam Mullur and Mr.Singer Prabhu gave a detailed talk on the activities of Sankara Nethralaya, especially its service to the indigent and how everyone can participate in contributing to that cause. Mr.Singer Prabhu and Ms Shruthi reiterated these views again during the music program. Mr. Paul Pandian an ardent supporter of Sankara Nethralaya is now Advisor to the MTS and has offered to help wherever he can. This event is the first one OM Trust is doing with MTS and we hope to do this again during 2014. Some donations were received on the spot and some patrons bought copies of ‘Insight’ the biography of Sankara Nethralaya.

Sankara Nethralaya and the SN OM Trust take this opportunity join hands in expressing their since gratitude to Mr.Singer Prabhu, Ms Sahana and Ms Shruthi for their efforts and dedication towards the cause of Sankara Nethralaya.

Date: 16/08/2013
Sankara Nethralaya conducts a high level exploration on the clinical applications of Nanotechnology
Clinical Applications of Nanotechnology

A high power symposium on the use of Nano Technology in clinical care was held at the Sri VD Swami auditorium, Sankara Nethralaya Main campus on the 2nd & 3rd of August 2013. Welcoming the gathering of over 63 participants pursuing research/ higher studies in Nano technology, Advisor to Vision Research Foundation, Dr.Rama Rajagopal, gave an interesting genesis of the Vision Research Foundation and how its research activities had grown in scope and volume over the years. She observed that Nano Technology applied clinically would play a critical role on precise targeting of cancer cells and would go a long way in cancer treatment visa-vis the ill effects of Chemo therapy adding that Nano Technology, when extended to patient care and infection control, had a key role to play.

Speaking on the occasion Dr.S.Krishnakumar, Deputy Director – Research, and Head of the Nano-Biotechnology department, Vision Research Foundation, elaborated on the current departmental research activities on targeting drug delivery to treat Retinoblastoma, Melanoma, usage of Gold Nano particles and SERS imaging and work on Aptamer conjugates for radio imaging, in association with IIT and Missouri University.

The honourable dignitaries Dr.Raghuraman Kannan, Associate Professor, University of Missouri, Columbia, Adjunct Faculty, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr. Nripen Chanda, Sr Scientist, CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute, Durgapur, Dr. Anandhi Upendran, Director of Research, Nanoparticle BioChem, Inc., Columbia, Missouri, Adjunct Faculty, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr.Dhananjay Dendukuri, CEO & Co-Founder, Achira Labs, Bangalore were honoured with mementos.

Inaugurating the Clinical Nano Medicine symposium over video conferencing from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore and delivering the Plenary lecture, distinguished scientist and Linus Pauling Professor, CNR Rao, commended Sankara Nethralaya’s research work, particularly on Nano technology as a pioneering effort. He observed that Nano technology had tremendous scope in research and development, patient care and other applications. Prof.Rao highlighted that globally, several research activities, on Nano tubes, analogues, graphites, artificial photosynthesis, and super capacitors are being carried on and suggested that Sankara Nethralaya should take leads from them for translational purposes.

The two day symposium packed with critical lectures and interactive question and answer and practical sessions by eminent speakers on various branches of Nano technology concluded with the distribution of certificates to the participants, upbeat and jubilant at the immense knowledge gained at the symposium.

Date: 16/08/13
Sankara Nethralaya observes 120th Mahaperiyava Jayanthi with great piety
120th Mahaperiyava Jayanthi

The institution which owes its inception and growth to the Mahaperiyava’s benevolence and continued guidance and blessings observed his 120th Jayanthi with great reverence and piety on 19/07/2013 at the Sri V.D. Swami Auditorium

Extending a warm welcome to the gathering Shri S Viswanathan, DGM, Optical Services highlighted the essential qualities to be imbibed by man for his good ‘Lowgika’ or worldly existence by the great spiritual master in very simple terms. He spoke on how the Guru stressed on simple things like learning to do one’s own cooking to washing one’s own vessels, rehabilitating cows through Goshalas and setting a good personal example. On a more personal note he shared his own experience of how the Seer’s advise put an end to all ambiguity on what higher studies he should pursue after his schooling and how the guidance of the Seer made him select Optometry at the ESO, an institution blessed by him and how the wheel has gone a full circle and blessed him with the opportunity of addressing the audience on the Guru’s Jayanthi celebrations. Shri Viswanthan introduced the trio of Shri S.N.Prabhu, Trustee, OM Trust and his daughters, Ms Shruthi Prabhu and Ms Sahana Prabhu, the family’s sterling role in raising significant funds for Sankara Nethralaya in the USA through their mellifluous voice and their devotion to the Mahaperiyava which made them perform at his Jayanthi. Their high devotion to the Sage was apparent in the ensuing vocal presentation by the father and daughters which took the audience to another world with the divine rendition of songs on the Mahaperiyava.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. R. Krishna Kumar another ardent devotee of the Mahaperiyava and Principal of the Elite School of Optometry spoke on the functioning of the ESO as a socially accountable institution producing not only competent but also socially accountable optometry professionals. He highlighted the yeoman community work carried out by the ESO, declaring with pride that the ESO has screened, treated and provided glasses to more than 50, 000 children in the districts of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram highlighting that a key feature of these camps was the providing of unbreakable glasses to the children. Shri Krishna Kumar had a high word of praise for Professor Santhanam’s role in underlying the importance of occupational optometry and how the ESO was providing specialized eye care needed for different occupations right at their place of work. He commended the role of Shri NDJ.Renganath, Member, TTD Trust and long time well wisher and friend of Sankara Nethralaya in bringing the institutions together and the great work done by the Sri Srinivasa Sankara Nethralaya. He highlighted the high utility value of the LogMar charts installed by the ESO at various temples and parks of the city and its plans to install Bengali LogMar charts at the Aditya Birla Sankara Nethralaya and other SN Centers at Kolkata to benefit Bengali patients.

The occasion witnessed the recognition and awarding of Optometrists Ms Vijayalakshmi, Ms Rizwana and Ms Anuradha for their high quality work, by Dr T.S. Surendran, Vice-Chairman and the members of the Optical services department adjudged as the best performing department by Dr Kris Vasan, Managing Director, Sankara Nethralaya. The day’s proceedings came to an end with an emphatic appeal by Dr T.S. Surendan to the Almighty “May the Light and Vision Spread far and Wide”, followed by Mangala Aarthi to the Sage and Seer and distribution of Prasadam to all assembled.

Date: 17/07/13
An informal chat with Shri SN.Prabhu, Trustee, OM Trust
Shri SN.Prabhu

Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust member Shri SN. Prabhu more popularly known as Singer Prabhu on a visit to India with family dropped in at Sankara Nethralaya where he would be giving a music performance with daughters Shruthi and Sahana on Mahaperiyava Jayanthi on 19th July 2013. The Corporate Communications department engaged him in a quick Q&A session, which we take pleasure in sharing with our readers.

1. Please give a brief introduction about yourself, how you were drawn to singing and how you came to be known as ‘Singer’ Prabhu?

I am a singer by passion; I did not undergo any formal initiation or training in singing under any guru. My father was a sangeetha vidwan and bhagavathar giving kutcheris at Trichy and Tanjore, I use to accompany him as a toddler and sit on his lap while he performed, I guess this must have been an early influence and inspiration on me. Even in those days he would sing for charitable causes which sowed the seeds that I should use my talent for noble causes. I started singing from the time I was in grade 6 and honed my skills as I moved on to college, as an employee of the external affairs ministry I won the inter ministry competition held in New Delhi. After moving to the USA I would as a singer well versed in singing in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada accompany legendary singers like Dr.KJ Jesudoss, Smt Susheela and veteran music directors like Shri M.S.Viswanathan and Shri Deva etc when they tour the country, which earned me the nickname ‘Singer’ Prabhu.

2. How were you drawn towards Sankara Nethralaya and the OM Trust?

I had, in keeping with my belief of leveraging the power of music as a vehicle to create awareness and raise funds for noble causes been giving charity performances and mobilizing funds for the Cancer Institute and relief organizations like Asha, CRY and the Sankara Eye Foundation. I would say that my daughter Shruti was largely responsible for my association with Sankara Nethralaya. The eye ailments and resultant suffering of my mother and sister had left a deep impact in her and she began to make a quest in right earnest as to how we could serve the visually impaired, especially those who could not afford quality eye care. It was after a lot of research and speaking to people that she decided that Sankara Nethralaya was the right institution through which we could fulfill our promise to the visually impaired and thus began my family and my association with Sankara Nethralaya and the SN OM Trust.

3. Do you have any particular reason to choose to perform at the Mahaperiyava Aradhana?

Well I can only say one thing as an answer to this question, we owe our existence and all that we have to his benevolence, can there be a better reason than that, it is my great privilege, pride and punya that I have been given this opportunity to perform with my daughters in such an auspicious occasion and receive the blessing of the God who lived among us and I express my deep gratitude to Dr SS.Badrinath for this rare opportunity of being a part of this great function.

Date: 13/06/2013
SN OM Trust Booth at the TANA 2013 Meeting
TANA 2013

As a fund raising body ever exploring new avenues to spread awareness on the Sankara Nethralaya philosophy, its goals and achievements and raise funds for its community initiatives, the Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust realized that the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) congregation slated to take place at Dallas would be an ideal platform to reach out to the Telugu community living across North America and Canada. They quickly got their act together by coordinating on one hand with the organizers of the 19th TANA convention on the modalities of setting up a booth and distributing publicity material at the venue and ensuring that the necessary materials are ready on time, by actively interacting with the creative team at Sankara Nethralaya.

The booth set up and collaterals in place as scheduled, the SN OM Trust members from the Dallas region Shri Suresh Dalapathy who played a key role in facilitating SN OM Trust’s participation in the event, trustee Shri Prabhu Sivaraman and volunteers Shri Venantius Anthony, Shri Mohannath, Shri Sridhar Vasudevan and Srimathi Sukanya Vasudevan presented themselves enthusiastically at the OM Trust booth at the Dallas Convention Center on the 24th of May 2013, the inaugural day of the 19th TANA Convention. The booth was designed with an emphasis on showcasing Sankara Nethralaya’s activities at Andhra Pradesh, especially the newly inaugurated Sri City Sankara Nethralaya at Tada, near Sulurpetta at the Tamil Nadu Andhra border and the Mobile Surgical Bus.

The booth witnessed a good footfall, the brand recall and familiarity of Sankara Nethralaya were evident in the interaction that the visitors had with the OM Trust members and volunteers manning the stall. The Trustees and volunteers manned the booth in turns on the three days of the convention between the 24th-26th of May, welcoming visitors, handing over the flyers and brochures, briefing them on the various activities of Sankara Nethralaya and the critical need to support its endeavours. Prominent among the visitors were long time friends and supporters of SN OM Trust from the Dallas Area, Shri Nani Iswara the senior software professional and Vani Iswara the founder of Ellora Center for Performing Arts. There were spirited enquiries from the visitors on areas like student observership and other avenues through which they could associate and assist Sankara Nethralaya in its various activities. The Twin Surgical Bus and the recently inaugurated Sri City Sankara Nethralaya at Tada evoked great interest among the visitors.

While the event did not translate into significant monetary benefit, it provided a great opportunity and meeting point to interact with the members of the Telugu community, spread awareness and identify potential well wishers and donors among them. The members of the Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust would be pursuing these promising contacts and leads through the good offices of the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) and the Chittoor NRI Association and exploring how their good will and confidence could be leveraged to bring about tangible real time benefits to the Sankara Nethralaya’s community initiatives back in India.

Date: 10/04/2013
Small Acts of Kindness – 2013
Small Acts of Kindness – 2013

When a good-natured notion transforms into a valiant process, it is impossible to match. When a thoughtful idea turns into an insightful project, it is impossible to fathom. When a good intention becomes a remarkable action, it is indeed impossible to describe. It was exactly this that was done during the “Small Acts of Kindness-2013” performance for Sankara Nethralaya on March 30th, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.

As a sequel to the first “Small Acts of Kindness” program that took place in October 2011 in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, this year’s performance was targeted at a broader variety of people, hence the programme included songs in Malayalam, Tamil, and Hindi. A highly talented group of music lovers and performers –Prabhu Shankar, Manoj Krishnan, Shruthi Prabhu, Sahana Prabhu, Anjali Varghese, Sumithra Prabhu, Aarthi Giri, and Sankara Nethralaya OM Trustee – “Singer” Prabhu–joined together this time around to make this program a huge success. The singers were accompanied by yet another exceptional group of performing musicians–Joe, Shino (from Chicago), Isaac & Eugene—who truly entertained the ecstatic crowd of about 200 people who gave reviews that were never less than astounding.

Incorporating songs such as “Oru Murai,” from Mani Chitra Thaazhu, “Deewangi Deewangi,” from Om Shanthi Om, and “Nenjukulle,” from Kadal, the lively, bubbly crew put together an unforgettable performance that never failed to get the crowd on its feet, asking for more. The program was described by a plethora of spectators as “incredible,” “one of the best concerts of the year,” “astoundingly lively & interesting,” & “memorable.”

The “Small Acts of Kindness-2013” effort collected a net sum that could assist to the tune of about 65 free surgeries at Sankara Nethralaya- Chennai, India. There was a multitude of other magnanimous volunteers from the Metroplex that assisted in the smooth conduct of the event.

If anything is certain from this event, it is the fact that this will not be the last effort of this multitalented group of people. Dedication goes a long way, and most definitely, there will be many more wonderful performances in the months and years to come to entertain the DFW crowd and other cities to assist Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai.

Date: 06/02/2013
OM Trust spreads the spirit of compassion in Southern California
Jan’il Jollee

Through a single act, a life can be changed. Through a single operation, a world can be opened. And through a single program, a chain of good deeds can begin.

These were the thoughts floating through the minds of those who organized and performed in the light music program for Sankara Nethralaya in Los Angeles on January 12th, 2013. SN OMTRUST joined hands with the Southern California Tamil Association (SOCAL) and presented “Jan’il Jollee” a Tamil Light Music program, by FUN MuzikLovers, RiffsNRaagas, TREAT and Sangamam. From Texas were special guests “Singer” Prabhu and his daughter, Shruthi Prabhu, who had performed for Sankara Nethralaya in the past.

The program started on an auspicious note with a Ganesha Pooja by founder of SOCAL, Shri Padmanabhan Iyer and a brief introduction by Shri Subbu Shanmugam, the president of SOCAL. Shri Santhanam Mullur a trustee of SN OM Trust gave a brief introduction to the objectives and activities of the Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust and explained the noteworthy service being provided by Sankara Nethralaya towards vision care to indigent patients in India and made an emphatic appeal to support cost free eye care to the needy through donations. The musical event by FUN MuzicLovers – Balaji, opened with the song “Mukunda Mukunda” by the kids Amruthaa & Rumeya, followed by many songs with “Vision” as the underlining theme.

The response to this program was indeed great. This was a first time event for Sankara Nethralaya in Southern California, and helped greatly in creating awareness on the noble objectives of the charitable organization in this region. The song, Ovvoru Pookalume, was rendered by Ms Shruthi Prabhu after an informational video presentation on the activities and background of Sankara Nethralaya. The theme of the entire concert touched the hearts of all the attendees as well as entertained them with the wide variety of Tamil songs that were rendered. Feedback from the crowd was overwhelmingly positive and indicated that Jan’il Jollee has helped, Sankara Nethralaya gain another city of supporters.

Sankara Nethralaya has been offering vision care for the poor and needy for the past thirty five years. Whether it be in America or in India, vision is critical for a human being. Being deprived of eye care due to lack of financial resources is a pity. People have to recognize this and contribute to this noble cause. Volunteers of Sankara Nethralaya, SOCAL and the performers from California and Texas put their hearts and souls into effectively communicating this message to the audience and promised to continue their support to this wonderful charity in the days to come.

Date: 16/06/12
Sankara Nethralaya gets a high visibility launch pad at Houston!

Sankara Nethralaya filled a lot of mind space and took off for a great launch at Houston, the city so familiar with space crafts and rocket launches. Members of the Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust, ever exploring new avenues to raise funds and reach out to the Indian Diaspora in the US and enlighten them on the philosophy of Sankara Nethralaya were quick to realize that the Tamil Nadu Foundation’s Annual Convention being held for the first time, during the Memorial Day holidays on the 20th and 21st of May 2012 at Houston presented a wonderful opportunity to spread awareness about their cause and mobilize funds, which they simply could not afford to miss. Their premise was proved right and the SN OM Trust booth put up at the Tamil Nadu Foundation meeting registered brisk footfall on both the days, with the visitors eagerly picking up brochures and listening with great interest to the briefing by OM Trust members and volunteers. A significant amount was collected by way of on the spot donations, contributions made through purchase of “Insight”- the recently launched biography on Sankara Nethralaya and music CD’s, a good number of people also pledged monetary help, promising to send in their cheques soon and spread the good word in their circle. The highlight of the event was the surprise visit by celebrities Ms Suhasini Maniratnam and Shri SP.Muthuraman, both spending good time at the booth and exchanging memories of their old and very special relationship with Sankara Nethralaya with members and volunteers at the booth.

We take this opportunity to express our most sincere thanks for the contribution and team work of every member of the SN OM Trust team for the success of the booth in terms of awareness creation and the handsome donations collected, we wish to make a special mention about Shri Sam Sockalingam Kannappan’s role in identifying this huge opportunity, foreseeing the potential of putting up a booth at the venue of the Tamil Nadu Foundation meeting, both in terms of spreading awareness and mobilizing funds and booking the stall himself. Our special thanks also go to Ms. Leela Krishnamurthy who through her proactive involvement played a key role for the success of the event right from the time the idea was mooted. We would also like to express our gratitude to the volunteers namely Mrs. Sakuntala Aiyer, Mrs. Anita Balaji, Mrs. Nimmi Vasan, Mr. & Mrs. Kohur & Anuradha Subramanian, Mr&Mrs. P.S.Raju, Mrs. Bhavani Iyer, and Mrs. Mahalakshmi Krishnan who supported us whole heartedly in the midst of their busy engagements by taking turns to man the booth and keep the visitors engaged and involved, with their warm interaction.

Date: 30/11/11
When words failed, it was tears that spoke eloquently!
When words failed, it was tears that spoke eloquently!

It had rained heavily all night but the depression in the bay had not apparently weakened and the rains were lashing out with unabated vigour much after sunrise, a city not cut out for heavy rains the roads in Chennai were predictably clogged making both vehicular and movement on foot most cumbersome and normal life was thrown totally out of gear.

The scene inside the Jaslok Community Ophthalmic Centre the community services wing of Sankara Nethralaya offering cost free treatment to indigent patients however painted a very different picture. The clock at the front office showed 8:00 am and inhospitable weather notwithstanding poor and needy patients had assembled in good number at the place which had over the years become a beacon of hope for the poorest of the poor among the visually impaired. The place was bustling with activity, hospital staff serving free breakfast for the waiting patients, front office executives busy registering new patients, attendants guiding first time patients on procedures and doctors and Para medial staff rushing about in right earnest.

Among the patients assembled at the waiting lounge was little Krishnamurthy a nervous little lad of about 7 years standing with his hand firmly clasping his father’s hand, he seemed to be in a state of shock and fear, unsure of his movements without help from his father. Father and son had traveled more than 200 kilometers from their native village near Thiruvannamalai unmindful of the hostile weather conditions to the Jaslok Community Ophthalmic Centre the place on which Anand the boy’s father had pinned his last hope of regaining his little son’s vision.

After a quick registration process the executive at the front office started with the preliminary questions on what the problem was, the father of the boy seemed to be under heavy emotional stress and could hardly bring the words to his mouth, between sobs and sighs he narrated that his son Krishnamurthy aged 7 years was struck very hard by a cricket bat on his left eye when playing a game of cricket near his home, the impact of the blow had caused major damage to the left eye and had robbed him of his sight instantly. The doctor at the local clinic after examining the effected eye had indicated that the damage seemed irreparable; he expressed his helplessness and referred the boy to the nearby government hospital for a second opinion. The doctors at the government hospital examined the effected eye, realizing the seriousness of the case and the poor financial state of the boy’s father they referred the patient to the Sankara Nethralaya for cost free advanced treatment.

The front office executive at JCOC took at a quick look at the letter from the government hospital; it described the case as Traumatic Cataract Left with doubtful Post Capsule. Realizing the gravity and urgency of the situation he got to act quickly, he understood that the diagnosis and treatment of the problem would involve several examinations, which would warrant the patient’s stay in the city for a couple of days. Given the terrible weather and the financial wherewithal of the patient there was no way they could have found accommodation in the city or be asked to shuttle between their village and Chennai. The front office attendant immediately made arrangements for the boy and his father to stay at the hospital until the treatment could be completed.

The boy was then thoroughly examined by a team of doctors, after several levels of in-depth evaluation the team concluded that it was a case of Pars Plenor Cataract requiring Anterior Viterectomy and implanting of Foldable intraocular lens under local anesthesia. This was followed by Lab and physician tests to ascertain the boy’s fitness for surgery after which surgery was successfully carried out by a senior surgeon and the patient was discharged the very next day with vision in his left eye fully restored. It was an emotionally and professionally fulfilling moment for the surgeons, doctors, paramedical and administrative staff who attended to little Anand from the day he walked in with the pain and trauma of loosing his vision in his left eye.

To Krishnamurthy the boy’s father it was a moment of ecstasy and joy beyond words, a fortnight’s anxious wait was over, his worst fears were belied and his son’s vision was restored fully, he was overwhelmed by a mixture of emotions and was at a total loss for words, his attempts to express his gratitude to the doctors and staff at JCOC failed as his voice was choked and the words seemed to be failing him once again, tears ran down his cheek so much like when he walked in a fortnight back, it was just that this time around they were tears of joy!

Date: 24/11/11
Small Acts of Kindness
Small Acts of Kindness

On October 8, 2011 Dallas Metroplex was treated to a multicultural event by a group of seventy-two children performing Light music, Indian classical music, folk dances to an audience of over four hundred.

This program was created and coordinated for Sankara Nethralaya by Shruthi Prabhu, a fifteen-year-old high school student. Shruthi had approached Sankara Nethralaya to help her launch this program to raise funds. Shruthi’s grandmother had Glaucoma and that made Shruthi determined to do some charity work for the needy in the vision area. Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust the US entity of Sankara Nethralaya was happy to support this program.

After three months of rehearsals, on October 8th, 2011, Small Acts of Kindness took place. It was a multicultural program including the participation of several dance and music schools throughout the Metroplex. Sruthilaya, Pranavam Music School, Nruthya Sakthi Dance School, Divya Dhwani, and many other schools participated in the performance.

Small Acts of Kindness

The program began promptly at 4:00 PM with a welcome note by Shri Santhanam Mullur and a piano piece composed and played by Shruthi Prabhu followed by her talk on the genesis of the program. It also included a rendition of “We are the World” by Michael Jackson and “Firework” by Katy Perry. Hindustani and Carnatic music, as well as several dance numbers, were performed. The audience was indeed impressed at the diversity of this unique event. The theme song for this event was “Ovvoru Pookkalume” from the movie Autograph. This song was auctioned (a unique concept introduced to Dallas) off to the audience and raised about $500 by itself. People responded with generous, donations, and sponsorship. All of the children performed with something that could only be described as determination, happiness, and humility. Towards the end, all the teachers of the school who participated and Shruthi Prabhu were given a Sankara Nethralaya plaque and all the children were given a certificate of participation. As a note of thanks and recognition for continued help to Sankara Nethralaya, Hema Mohan (Fun Asia), Ambreen Hasnat (Fun Asia) were given SN Plaques by Shabnam Modgil of Fun Asia. The event ended with Dr. Arvind Neelakantan thanking the patrons, audience and the volunteers.

Without a doubt, this was the program of the year, and we will look forward to similar performances in the near future.

Date: 23/12/10
Eye screening camps at Tiruvallur
Eye screening camps at Tiruvallur

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, Michelin Tyres joined hands with Sankara Nethralaya to conduct three eye screening camps in Tiruvallur district. A total of 599 people underwent a basic vision screening at the camps held at Sengarai village (September 18), Karadiputhur village (November 13) and Karadiputhur village (December 12). One hundred and two people were identified with vision-related problems. Forty-six people were taken to the base hospital for further ophthalmic evaluation, 23 underwent surgery and 128 were provided with spectacles. The costs for the surgery and spectacles were borne by Michelin Tyres.

Mr. V. Sivakumar, Administrator, Jaslok Community Ophthalmic Centre lauded Michelin’s efforts in successfully conducting the eye camps. “Efforts such as these from corporate bodies will go a long way in ensuring that health care services reach out to all sections of society,” he said.

Date: 30/10/10
‘Natya Drishti’, leaves audience spellbound

‘Natya Drishti’, a well-choreographed Bharatnatyam performance by students from the Ellora Centre for Performing Arts, was presented in Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas, US, on October 24, 2010, in aid of Sankara Nethralaya.

The theme — “Vision-A Gift from God”— was in conjunction with Sankara Nethralaya’s mission for vision and was presented by twenty-five children from the Ellora Centre under the able guidance and choreography of their guru Smt. Vani Ishwara. The troupe presented dances depicting the grace of Lord Shiva and the lives of his devotees including Kannappa Nayanar.

The audience of about 350 people was left enthralled by the outstanding performance by the artists. Sankara Nethralaya’s founder and Chairman Emeritus Dr. SS Badrinath and his wife Dr. Vasanthi Badrinath also participated at the fund-raiser.

Dr. Badrinath spoke passionately on the current and future growth, research and philanthropic activities of Sankara Nethralaya in the field of eye care in India. He, along with Dr. Vasanthi, expressed their gratitude and encouraged the audience to donate towards the cause of Sankara Nethralaya. Their presence and interaction with the artists, guests and volunteers was a great source of inspiration and encouragement.

Sankara Nethralaya alumnus Dr. Arvind Neelakantan, a practicing Glaucomatologist in Dallas, while praising the institution for its Ophthalmology training and focus on Community Ophthalmology Programs, urged the gathering to donate to SN OM Trust and thereby support Sankara Nethralaya in its fight against blindness.

On behalf of Sankara Nethralaya, Dr. Badrinath and Dr. Vasanthi Badrinath presented plaques to Smt. Vani Ishwara and the child artists who performed during the event, for their support to Sankara Nethralaya. The dance program was organized by Mr. Suresh Dalapathy and Mr. Santhanam Mullur, Trustees of Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust, a fund-raising vehicle in the US for Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, with support from local volunteers.

Date: 26/10/10
SN OM Trust receives CFC recognition for 2011

Sankara Nethralaya OM (SN OM) Trust has been approved as a Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) participant in 2011 by the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM). SN OM Trust has been participating in CFC for the past several years.

CFC is a drive by the US Office of Personnel Management encouraging US federal employees to donate to various non profit charities pre-screened by them. Every year a booklet is published of the pre-selected charities whom federal employees are encouraged to donate as a one-time contribution or through payroll deduction. Employees can start or make changes in contribution only during the 'open season', which for 2011 is open now through December 13, 2010.

The CFC number for Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust is 68803.

If you are a US federal employee, kindly designate Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust
(Number 68803) as your chosen charity. If you know of a federal employee, kindly motivate them to designate SN OM Trust - no. 68803 - as their chosen charity. Various local CFC chapters will collect funds and remit to SN OM Trust

For further information on the CFC program, please contact
Mr. SV Acharya
Ph: (301) 529-7377

Date: 04/06/10
Helen Keller Remembrance Day
Helen Keller Remembrance Day

The annual Helen Keller Remembrance Day awards saw doctors, hospitals and social service organisations being honoured for their contributions in the field of ophthalmology. The event was held at Sankara Nethralaya on June 3,2010.

This year’s ‘Dr. G Sitalakshmi Gift of Sight Award’ was presented to Dr. Leila Mohan, Comtrust Eye Hospital, Calicut. The award is given to a corneal surgeon who is rendering selfless service in the field of cornea grafting.

The ‘I (Eye) Care Award,’ instituted to recognize eye hospitals which render humane and high quality eye care to the poor and under privileged free of cost, was given to the Lions Club of Karimnagar Charitable Eye Hospital, Karimnagar (Andhra Pradesh), the RR Lions Eye Hospital, Palakol (Andhra Pradesh), the Paediatric Ophthalmology Department, Sankara Nethralaya (Chennai), the Tulsi Rural Development Trust (Chennai), Sankara Nethralaya, Rameswaram.

There were six recipients to The ‘Knight of Blind Award’ including doctors, paramedical staff and social workers.

Chief Guest Lion Dr. Ashok Mehta said the awards would serve as a great source of encouragement for awardees to continue with their outstanding work in healthcare.

Remembering Helen Keller as a role model, Chairman Emeritus, Dr. SS Badrinath urged doctors and students to imbibe qualities of patience and perseverance — traits which helped Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan overcome all adversities. The dignitaries lauded the services of Lion Hari Narayanan in oraganising the function.

Date: 01/06/10
Super Speciality Camp at Kenya
Super Speciality Camp at Kenya

As part of a joint collaboration between the Rotary Club of Chennai Galaxy, Lions Club, and Sankara Nethralaya, a team of super specialized doctors from Sankara Nethralaya conducted an eye camp at Nairobi, Kenya from May 20 - May 27, 2010.

Over 1000 patients requiring specialized ophthalmic care were examined. The team of doctors performed procedures like prophylactic retinal lasers and operated upon complicated cases in Oculoplasty and Vitreo Retina. A total of over 25 prophylactic lasers were performed. The Oculoplasty team performed almost 55 complicated and skilled procedures.

Dr. Rashmin Gandhi, Consultant, Neuro-Ophthalmology, who led the team, performed complicated phacoemulsification cataract surgeries and delivered an invited talk for a local group of ophthalmologists.

The camp was a great clinical experience for the doctors as they witnessed complicated cases in their respective specialties.
Dr. Bipasha Mukherjee, Director, Orbit, Oculoplasty & Trauma, Dr. Shubra Goel, Associate Consultant, Orbit, Oculoplasty & Trauma and Dr. Pukhraj Rishi, Associate Consultant, Vitreo Retina were also part of the team.

Rotarian Mr. Karikalan and Lion Mr. Hari Narayanan also participated at the week-long camp.

For the entire team, the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many was a truly rewarding experience.

Date: 27/05/10
Unnikrishnan benefit concerts
Unnikrishnan benefit concerts

Leading Carnatic classical vocalist P. Unnikrishnan performed a series of benefit concerts, in aid of Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, in the US in May 2010. About $50,000 was raised through the benefit concerts; the amount will be used towards Sankara Nethralaya's community services, including free cataract surgeries for indigent patients. The concerts were organized by Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust, USA.

San Jose, May 16
Event coordinator: Varsha Upadhye

The first of the benefit concerts commenced at the CET auditorium, San Jose, California on May 16. Mr. Unnikrishnan, along with Mr. Embar Kannan (Violin) and Mr. Arjun Kumar (Mrudhangam), mesmerized the audience with a soulful performance interspersed with ragas and bhajans.

The three-and-a-half-hour performance also included individual performances by Sri. Embar Kannan and Sri. Arjun Kumar, much to the delight of the audience. The support from the media (,, India Currents, Psymphony Radio) as well as organisations like SIFA (South Indian Fine Arts, Bay Area) and INDUZ in promoting the concert was deeply appreciated by one and all.

Earlier on, Mr. Alagiri, Manager, Resource mobilization, Sankara Nethralaya spoke eloquently about the many achievements,initiatives and activities of the SN OM Trust.

Washington DC, May 22
Event coordinator: Ramarao Mysore

After an outstanding performance at San Jose, Mr. Unnikrishnan and his team next headed to Washington DC where they enthralled audiences at the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple. The audience went into raptures on the exceptional display of talent. Mr. Unnikrishnan, Mr. Embar Kannan and Mr. Arjun Kumar accommodated spontaneous requests from the audience.

SN OM Trust also held a screening of 'Future Vision' – a documentary capturing the phenomenal growth of Sankara Nethralaya and showcasing its initiatives and future projects.

Atlanta, May 23
Event coordinator: Dr. Seshu Sarma

The last leg of the concert took the artists to the Hindu Temple, Atlanta, where they performed to a packed audience. The artists were at their musical best as they captivated the audience with some of their most popular renditions.

SN OM Trust was able to successfully organise the concerts due to the overwhelming and unconditional support received by numerous volunteers including, Dr. Preeti Chitgopekar Ms. Laxmi Achar, Mr. Ashok Kumar, Mr. Sundararaghavan, Mr. Ram Mallappa, Mr. Bobby Nayar, Ms. Madhu Iyer, Ms. Uma Narayan and Ms. Maya Nair, SN OM Trust President, Mr. Shankar Iyer, SN OM Trust Treasurer S.V. Acharya, SN OM Trust Trustee K.G Venkataraman.

Atlanta Fundraiser For Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust

Date: 08/05/10
Management Guru C K Prahalad Passes Away
C K Prahalad

Coimbatore Krishnarao Prahalad, one of the world’s most influential management thinkers and Distinguished Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, passed away on April 16, 2010 in San Diego, US, after a brief illness.

French Mathematician and Philosopher Blaise Pascal had once said, “Man's greatness lies in his power of thought.” And it is this power of thought, which made Prof CK Prahalad stand out from the rest. Whether as a corporate consultant, author or management guru, Prof. Prahalad played a vital role in shaping the growth of numerous companies. He was known to adhere to good corporate governance and ethical standards.

In his untimely death, Sankara Nethralaya has lost a truly remarkable supporter of Nethralaya’s mission for vision.

The Sankara Nethralaya family is indebted to Prof. Prahalad for his unconditional support to the institute. On October 14, 2009, Prof Prahalad very graciously delivered the “New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-Created Value Through Global Networks” management power lecture at Dallas, US, in benefit of Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai. The event was was organized by Sankara Nethralaya, Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust, US, and the Greater Dallas Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (GDIACC).

The lecture, which was attended by senior corporate executives and management professors, helped raise about $ 18000 through which around 278 cataract surgeries were performed, free-of-cost, on indigent patients.

Apart from being the leading cause of preventable blindness, Cataract also adversely affects the livelihood of many — especially the economically weaker sections in society — who are forced to quit their jobs due to poor vision. Prof. Prahalad’s selfless deed has removed the cloud of uncertainty from the lives of many and replaced it with a ray of hope. They say that deeds, not stones, are the true monuments of the great. For the Nethralaya family, the deeds of Prof. Prahalad will forever be etched in the minds and hearts of all at Sankara Nethralaya.

Obituary – GDIACC newsletter

Date: 29/04/10
The Road to Success
The Road to Success

As part of the ‘Meet Success First Hand’ series, aimed at highlighting successful first-generation entrepreneurs, Chairman Emeritus Dr. SS Badrinath spoke on Sankara Nethralaya’s road to success.

Organised by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) on April 29, 2010, Dr. Badrinath shared with the gathering the genesis of Sankara Nethralaya, the institute’s growth and achievements.

While elaborating on the various steps taken by the institute to achieve excellence in all fields, including medical, academics and research, Dr. Badrinath said the underlying goal was to ensure that Sankara Nethralaya served as a role model for healthcare delivery in India.

The ‘Meet Success First Hand’ series gives IACC members an opportunity to hear, first-hand, from entrepreneurs their success stories.

Date: 17/03/10
Indian Bank extends support to Sankara Nethralaya
Indian Bank extends support to Sankara Nethralaya

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Indian Bank — a leading nationalized bank — has come forward with a munificent donation of Rs. 1 crore towards Sankara Nethralaya.

Indian Bank (Chennai) Chairman and Managing Director Mr. M.S. Sundara Rajan, who presented the cheque to Chairman Emeritus Dr. SS Badrinath on March 15, 2010, lauded the “customer- centric attitude” adopted by the institution as well as the “mind-boggling number of cases the institute’s dedicated team of doctors attend to.”

Appreciating the Indian Bank’s magnanimous gesture, Dr. S.S.Badrinath, said “it means a lot to us, as every rupee is channeled towards the well being of the needy. We are grateful to all our donors who propel our mission of serving the poor and reaching out to people who do not have access to medical facilities.”

The donation will be directed towards supporting the services of the second floor of the main consultation block (MAHYCO) located at Sankara Nethralaya’s main campus. The second floor houses the Glaucoma, Neuro-ophthalmology and Glaucoma diagnostic services. Every day about 200 people are seen on this floor.

A plaque was unveiled by Mr. Sundara Rajan on the occasion.

Sankara Nethralaya activities hailed
The Hindu, March 16, 2010

Date: 06/01/10
SWAN Volunteer Donates
SWAN Volunteer Donates
Vimla Mundra (centre) and her family along with
Chairman Emeritus Dr. SS Badrinath & Dr.Vasanthi Badrinath

Coming from the little-known city of Seohara in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district, Vimla Mundra brought to Chennai not only her embroidery skills but also her compassionate spirit.

Having been introduced to Sankara Nethralaya by a relative, Ms. Mundra’s initial association with the institute was restricted to spreading word about the hospital’s quality and affordable eye care services among friends and relatives. This small step would pave way for a bigger one in the early 1990s, when she joined SWAN — Sankara Nethralaya Women Auxiliary — as a volunteer. And there has been no looking back since then. Like any other SWAN volunteer, she has helped the institute in various capacities.

“Extremely satisfied” by the time spent at Nethralaya, the people she meets here and the opportunity to serve others, Ms. Mundra and her family recently donated Rs. 5 lakhs towards dedicating a room in the memory of her father-in-law Shri. Shiv Kumar Mundra, and her husband Shri. Sushil Kumar Mundra. This is not the first time the SWAN volunteer, and her family, is donating to Sankara Nethralaya. “The work Nethralaya undertakes is commendable and we consider ourselves fortunate that we are able to help in our small way.”

Nethralaya is deeply grateful for the thoughtful and benevolent gesture from the Mundra family.

Date: 05/01/10
Rededication of Clinical Laboratory
Rededication of Clinical Laboratory
Smt. Sulochana Amma and Dr. Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Clinical Laboratory, Sankara Nethralaya, at the rededication of the
Sri. Nathella Sampathu Chetty Clinical Laboratory on December 31, 2009

Following its renovation, the Sri. Nathella Sampathu Chetty Clinical Laboratory was rededicated by Smt. Sulochana Amma, wife of (late) Sri. Nathella Sampathu Chetty Garu, on December 31, 2009 at Sankara Nethralaya.

Smt. Sulochana Amma lighted the traditional lamp following which she and her family were shown around the refurbished clinical laboratory facility. A detailed document listing the activities and achievements of the clinical laboratory was presented to the Smt. Sulochana Amma and her family, who donated Rs. 1 lakh to SWAN (Sankara Nethralaya Women Auxiliary) on the occasion.

Date: 02/01/10
Screening & Counselling for Senior Citizens
Screening & Counselling for Senior Citizens

Owing to public demand, Navasuja Sankara Nethralaya conducted a screening and counselling for senior citizens (above 60 years) on December 27, 2009. Around 100 people were screened and counseled and 74 people were referred to undergo further medical examination.

All those who came were tested for distance & near vision. Apart from checking the eye pressure, a slit lamp examination was also conducted. People were made aware of their eye conditions and were given eye care tips.

Navasuja Sankara Nethralaya had earlier screened and counseled 137 persons on September 20, 2009. The screening and counselling was undertaken to commemorate World Elders’ Day (October 1).

Date: 30/12/09
Benefit concert by Natyalaya School of Dance

The Seonee hills came alive at the Georgetown Center Auditorium, Austin, Texas, US, as Mowgli and his friends from the animal kingdom recounted one of the most loved tales of the century in a brilliantly-choreographed dance drama by the Natyalaya School of Dance.

Children were at their artistic best, as they took the audience in an enchanting journey of Rudyard Kipling’s famed ‘Jungle Book.’
The performance, a benefit concert for Sankara Nethralaya, was attended by around 300 people. The remarkable efforts by Ms. Vinitha Subramanian & the 24 children from the Natyalaya School of Dance were showcased in every act.

For their incredible enthusiasm in participating in the benefit concert and supporting Nethralaya’s cause, the children were presented with plaques of honor by Sankara Nethralaya and Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust.

Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust, Inc., a registered non-profit organization in the United States of America, was established in 1988 with the sole purpose of supporting Sankara Nethralaya, a charitable, not-for-profit ophthalmic hospital, in Chennai, India. Every year SN OM Trust, with the support from society at large, raises funds for Sankara Nethralaya by conducting various events.

Date: 11/12/09
Sankara Nethralaya, Rameswaram, to offer free treatment
Sankara Nethralaya, Rameswaram, to offer free treatment

Continuing with the Nethralaya philosophy of community service, Sankara Nethralaya, Rameswaram began offering free services to indigent patients from December
1, 2009.

Rededicating the services, at a function on December 7, 2009 at Rameswaram, Mr. TN Hariharan, District Collector, Ramanathapuram, assured all help to Sankara Nethralaya in creating more awareness about ophthalmic care in Rameswaram and surrounding areas.

Welcoming Sankara Nethralaya’s initiative in providing free services at its Rameswaram branch, Ms. Girija Vaidyanathan, Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission, urged for such quality and affordable ophthalmic services to be spread across the district.

Sankara Nethralaya Chairman Mr. V Vaidyanathan briefed the gathering on Sankara Nethralaya and the various activities undertaken by the institute. He laid emphasis on the institute’s pillars — patient care, community services, research, teaching & training — which has made Sankara Nethralaya one of the leading eye hospitals in the country.

Sankara Nethralaya at Rameswaram commenced its services — paying-cum-free —in 2007. Keeping in mind the local needs, the hospital decided to rededicate its services as purely community based, thereby offering eye care services free-of-cost, from December 2009.

The hospital also proposes to step up its teleophthalmology services in the district, in a phased manner. In the initial phase, along with the assistance of social workers from the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, a team consisting of optometrists and an ophthalmologist will conduct eye camps thrice a week. Surgeries too will be performed thrice a week.

Residents attending the camp will undergo a comprehensive eye examination. Those who are prescribed glasses will be provided with one at the campsite. Patients who are recommended for cataract surgery will be taken by the Sankara Nethralaya team to the the main hospital at Rameswaram where a free-of-cost cataract surgery, using intraocular lens, will be performed on them. The boarding, transport and food for patients will be borne by Sankara Nethralaya, Rameswaram.

Date: 08/12/09
‘Social Enterprise of the Year’
Social Enterprise of the Year
Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri. Kapil Sibal (center) presents the‘Social Enterprise of the year’ award to Sankara Nethralaya’s Chairman Emeritus Dr. SS Badrinath in New Delhi on December 03, 2009.

Sankara Nethralaya has been awarded the ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ at the 5th CNBC-TV18 India Business Leader Awards. Dr. SS Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya, accepted the award on behalf of the institute at a glittering ceremony held in New Delhi on December 3, 2009.

The award is presented to an NGO/CSR initiative that has shown uniqueness in the kind of outreach program it has adopted or in adapting a commercial business model for the purpose of social good & community welfare or in the sheer impact its work has had.

Present on the occasion were Kapil Sibal, Honourable Minister for Human Resource Development, Praful Patel, Minister of State-Civil Aviation and Nandan Nilekani, Head, Unique Identification Database project.

The CNBC-TV18 India Business Leader Awards honoured stalwarts of India Inc., who have emerged as legends in business leadership. The India Business Leader Awards are the most distinguished awards for excellence in leadership in Asia.

Social Enterprise of the Year

The winners were judged by eminent personalities like Mr. Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC, Mr. Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries Ltd. Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, Mr. Uday Kotak, and Mr. Raghav Bahl, Founder Editor, Network18.

Date: 30/11/09
Lifetime Achievement Award for Dr. Badrinath
Lifetime Achievement Award for Dr. Badrinath

For his outstanding contributions in the field of Ophthalmology, Sankara Nethralaya’s Chairman Emeritus, Dr. SS Badrinath, was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Madras City Ophthalmological Association (MCOA) on November 29, 2009 at a function in Chennai.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was also given to two other renowned ophthalmic doctors — Dr. ET Selvam and (late) Dr. J Agarwal.

Attributing the success of Sankara Nethralaya to the team work of its doctors and staff, Dr. Badrinath urged ophthalmologists to adopt the concept of group practice promoted by Sankara Nethralaya.

All-India Ophthalmological Society President Babu Rajendran lauded the contributions of the ophthalmologists and described them as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of ophthalmology.

The Hindu

Date: 26/11/09
Awareness talks on Sankara Nethralaya Held in the US
Awareness talks on Sankara Nethralaya Held in the US

In a bid to make people aware of the various activities and initiatives undertaken by Sankara Nethralaya and to mobilize support for the hospital’s community programmes, Sankara Nethralaya’s Fundraising Director, Dr. Tarun Sharma, held a series of awareness talks on Sankara Nethralaya across several cities in the US during his month-long visit to the country in October 2009.

Apart from meeting eminent people from the Indo-American community, including Dr. Sudhir Parikh and Dr. Narsing Rao, Dr. Sharma also addressed a gathering of about 250 people, at the CK Prahalad management power lecture on October 14, 2009 at Dallas, on the genesis and growth of Sankara Nethralaya. The awareness talks were held at San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Dallas, Rochester, New York. Dr. Tarun Sharma visited the reading centre at Madison, Wisconsin, where he met Dr. Ronald Danis and his team. He also participated at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) conference where he had the opportunity to meet Ms. Jane Aguirre, VP, Global Alliances, and one of the officials of AAO to explore the ways in which Sankara Nethralaya could collaborate with the AAO.

"An Eye Opener": Giving the gift of seeing

Awareness event in fremont, california.

Date: 26/11/09
Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata completes 1,000 free cataract surgeries
Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata completes 1,000 free cataract surgeries

When the rural teleophthalmology project was inaugurated in West Bengal on January 23, 2009 by Governor Shri. Gopalkrishna Gandhi, there was a magnanimous gesture made on the occasion to benefit the rural poor of West Bengal. Bellary Iron Ores Pvt. Ltd Managing Director Shri. S.K. Modi, well-wisher of Sankara Nethralaya, committed to sponsor 1,000 cataract surgeries which were to be completed in a year’s time.

In the months to follow, Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata slowly and steadily took its eye care services to the doorsteps of the rural poor. Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata, until October, has been able to conduct 48 eye camps, examining close to 7,000 patients, in various districts of the State. In November 2009, Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata was able to complete the 1,000 cataract surgeries which Shri. Modi had so graciously sponsored. A combined effort by our ophthalmologists, optometrists and other teleophthalmology staff at Kolkata has ensured that the target surgeries have been completed in under a year’s time. Patients who underwent the free cataract surgeries were brought from several districts of the State, including Midinipore, Burdwan, Hooghly, North Parganas, Sunderban etc.

Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata completes 1,000 free cataract surgeries

Eye camps by Sankara Nethralaya-Kolkata include conducting a free comprehensive eye examination, screening patients for cataract and providing spectacles at the campsite. A team of four-five optometrists, along with a fellow consultant and a mobile refraction van which provides spectacles, visit nearby villages on weekends for the benefit of the rural poor.

Date: 17/11/09
Honouring the spirit of volunteerism
Honouring the spirit of volunteerism
Lion Dr. K.S. Lakshmi, immediate past district governor, presents the awards to
Lion S.N. Hari Narayanan and Lion G.V. Raman

Lion G.V. Raman, past district governor, and Lion S.N. Hari Narayanan, past president, were felicitated, on November 12, 2009, by Lions Club of Central Madras for receiving the ‘Friend of Humanity Award’ and the ‘Helping Hands Award’ from the Lions Club International Foundation.

Lion R. Ravindran, president of the Lions Club, Central Madras, welcomed the gathering and explained the significance and uniqueness of the awards.

Lion Dr. K.S. Lakshmi, immediate past district governor, presented the awards to Lion G.V. Raman and Lion S.N. Hari Narayanan in the presence of family and friends at Chennai on the occasion.

Chairman Emeritus Sankara Nethralaya, Dr. S.S. Badrinath, spoke highly of their contributions to Sankara Nethralaya. Describing the two as the “eyes of Sankara Nethralaya,” Dr. Badrinath said, “by honouring you, Lions Club Foundation has also honoured us [Sankara Nethralaya].”

Lion Dr. A. Paneerselvam, Lion Dr. C.V. Ananthasayanam, Lion S. Raghavan, Lion K. Natchimuthu and Lion D. Rajagopalan also felicitated the awardees on a richly-deserved honour.

Lions Club, Central Madras, donated Rs. 30,000 towards the Amarthithi scheme to the Medical Research Foundation.

Lion Andal Rajaram proposed the vote of thanks.

Honouring the spirit of volunteerism
The appreciation letter, signed by LCIF Chairman, Lion Al Brandel along with the Helping Hands Award (top) and
the Friend of Humanity Award (above) medals.

What is the Friend of Humanity Award?

The LCIF Friend of Humanity Award recognizes Lions who have provided exceptional and longstanding service to LCIF through fundraising or publicity, no more than 50 annually.

What is the LCIF Helping Hands Award?

The LCIF Helping Hands Award recognizes Lions who promote greater awareness of and support for LCIF at the club, region, district or multiple district level or through the media.

Date: 09/11/09
‘Best Eye Hospital’ in India
‘Best Eye Hospital’ in India
Sankara Nethralaya has been recognized, yet again, as the country’s best ophthalmic hospital according to the recent Week-IMRB survey. The survey also rated Sankara Nethralaya as one of the ten best hospitals in the country. The 14-city survey was conducted among 704 specialists across 10 specializations and 486 general practitioners.

Date: 14/10/09
Management power lecture, Prof. CK Prahalad
Prof. CK Prahalad

The key strategies required to build organizational capabilities and the importance of accessing global resources to co-create unique experiences with customers formed the crux of the management power lecture by Prof. CK Prahalad in Dallas, US, on October 14, 2009.

Prof. CK Prahalad was at his eloquent best as corporate executives listened with rapt attention while the management guru delivered the “New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-Created Value Through Global Networks" lecture in benefit of Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai.

The event which saw 250 people, including senior corporate executives, management professors, and students, attending, was organized by Sankara Nethralaya, Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust, US, and the Greater Dallas Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (GDIACC).

Earlier on, Director, Fund Raising, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr. Tarun Sharma made a presentation on Sankara Nethralaya and highlighted its achievements and activities, including the community ophthalmology programs and the state-of-the-art medical research facilities.

Sankara Nethralaya Alumni Dr. Arvind Neelakantan, a practicising Glaucomatologist in Dallas, while praising the institution for its Ophthalmology training and focus on Community Ophthalmology Programs, urged the gathering to donate to SN OM Trust and thereby support Sankara Nethralaya in its fight against blindness. Prof. Prahalad, too, spoke highly of Sankara Nethralaya.

On behalf of Sankara Nethralaya, Dr. Tarun Sharma presented Prof. CK Prahalad, Mr. Harry Iyer, president, Greater Dallas Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, and Ms. Shabnam Modgil, FunAsia, with a plaque of Honor for their contributions and for supporting Sankara Nethralaya’s mission for vision.

The programme was followed by a Q&A and a book-signing session by Prof. Prahalad.

Date: 01/10/09
CFC recognition for Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust

Sankara Nethralaya Ophthalmic Mission Trust (SN OMT) Inc, a fund raising organization in the US that supports Sankara Nethralaya, has been recognized, yet again, as an eligible organisation to receive contributions under the Combined Federal Campaign or CFC.

What is CFC ?
CFC is a program under which US federal government employees are encouraged to donate through payroll deduction a certain portion of their salary for a designated non profit organization. Millions of dollars are collected and distributed for worthy causes around the world every year.

How you can help ?
If you are a US federal government employee please designate Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust (No. 68803) as your chosen charity organization for your contributions. If you are not an employee, but know of one, kindly motivate them to designate SN OMT as their chosen charity organization.

For further information on the CFC program, please contact
Mr. SV Acharya
Ph: (301) 529-7377

Date: 24/09/09
Srinivasa Sankara Nethralaya opens in Tirupati
Srinivasa Sankara Nethralaya

Sankara Nethralaya, in collaboration with the Thirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, opened the Srinivasa Sankara Nethralaya in Tirupati on September 21, 2009. Inaugurated by Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, the state-of-the art hospital will not only benefit visiting pilgrims but also provide ophthalmic care to indigent patients from Rayalaseema and other parts of the State.

In its first phase, the hospital will be able to treat around 16,000 patients and perform nearly 6, 500 cataract surgeries. The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister urged philanthropists to come forward and contribute towards helping the institute serve the poor. Ajay Modi, a Delhi-based philanthropist and former local legislator M. Venkatramana jointly contributed Rs.50 lakh to the hospital; Ashok Rathi, a Chennai-based industrialist, has also donated Rs.50 lakh to the institute.

The TTD, along with the Elite School of Optometry, provides a free comprehensive eye camp to the public, especially the visually handicapped people, on the second Sunday of every month in Chennai.

Date: 24/09/09
Screening & Counselling for Senior Citizens at Navasuja Sankara Nethralaya
Senior Citizens at Navasuja Sankara Nethralaya

To commemorate World Elders’ Day (October 1), Navasuja Sankara Nethralaya a free screening and counseling camp for 137 persons on September 20, 2009. Out of the total screened, 125 persons needed further medical treatment.

People who registered were screened for distance & near Vision. Apart from checking the eye pressure, a Slit lamp Examination was also conducted. People were made aware of their eye conditions and were given tips one eye care.

Date: 21/09/09
Sankara Nethralaya-Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited, Manali eye camp
Manali eye camp
Manali eye camp

As a corporate social responsibility, the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited has donated Rs. 10,00,000 to Sankara Nethralaya to serve people in the villages surrounding Manali, where the company is located. The first in the series of eye camps was held at the government primary school at Manali on June 20, 2009. This was followed by three other camps, one at Chinnasekkadu on July 18, 2009, a second at Mathur on August 29, 2009 and another at Periyachekadu on September 20, 2009. There was an overwhelming response by residents for the comprehensive eye screening conducted at the camps and the cataract surgeries which were performed free-of-cost.

A Camps Patients screened Cataract surgeries
First 305 14
Second 151 14
Third 165 11
Fourth 142 16

A day at the camp site

An average day for Sarojama begins at 4 a.m.; her daily chores are followed by a 45-minute drive to Kasimedu to buy fish — her only source of income. Back at Manali, Sarojama joins her fellow vendors as they begin their sales for the day. Sitting on the roadside has meant that the 57-year-old widow is constantly exposed to the sun and dust. “By the time I go home my eyes are burning and I often experience an irritation-like feeling,” she says.

Off late, her eyes have been a cause of concern; she is unable to see far off things, identifying the number board of an approaching bus is no longer as easy as it sounds. She is one among the many who came to the Sankara Nethralaya-CPCL (Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited) eye camp, held at Manali on June 20, 2009, in the hope of finding a solution to her eye care woes. Sankara Nethralaya’s teleophthalmology department conducted a detailed eye screening for 305 patients at the day-long free eye camp and helped diagnose various eye ailments including cataract and other ocular diseases. For someone whose sustenance wholly depends on the number of fish she sells a day, coming to the camp also meant forgoing a day’s earning. “I could not miss this chance. I can’t afford to go to a hospital, neither do I have the money nor the time,” she says matter-of-factly.

Manali eye camp
Manali eye camp

Manoranjitham agrees. “We are lucky that our eyes are being examined for free, not all can afford going to a hospital and paying for the treatment,” says the 46-year-old attender at the Manali government school. She too, like Sarojama, has been complaining of a burning sensation in the eye, and difficulty in seeing.

Both of them represent a significant percentage of people who are the sole breadwinners for their family at Manali.

Sarojama is childless and Manoranjitham’s son and daughter are leading their own lives elsewhere, leaving Manoranjitham and her husband to fend for themselves. Her husband is unemployed and her meagre earnings of Rs. 500 per month, out of which Rs. 200 goes in paying the rent for the house, is all she has to make both ends meet.

While a detailed eye check up at the camp has indicated the need for both of them to undergo cataract, it’s not a case of urgency as they had been diagnosed with immature cataract. Both of them were prescribed glasses, which optometrists said should take care of their eye care worries for the time being. Being the sole breadwinners, they both expressed their desire to be operated a little latter. The cataract surgery with intra ocular lens implantation will be performed free-of-cost soon.

So how does a typical eye camp function in helping people like Sarojama and Manoranjitham?

Manali eye camp
Manali eye camp

The first step involves filling in the personal details in the registration form, following which the patients undergo a basic eye screening test, where an ‘E’ chart, adhering to the WHO approved norms, helps test vision clarity. This screening serves as a filter to identify those who need a more detailed check up and those whose don’t.

The second level of detailed eye examination includes noting patient details in the Electronic Medical Records. Here, a more comprehensive diagnosis is done for cataract, refractive error, glaucoma and other eye ailments. The patients are either recommended for surgery, or are prescribed glasses.

For complex cases where further consultation is required, a teleconsultation is set up with experts at the Sankara Nethralaya hospital in Chennai through the mobile rural teleopthalmology van, stationed at the camp, using satellite connectivity (VSAT) with the help of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Based on the teleconsultation with the senior ophthalmologist, the patient is prescribed further treatment.

If a patient is recommended for surgery then he/she is guided to the next level of examination, where a blood test is conducted to determine BP and blood sugar levels of the patient. Following this, the patient is given a pre-surgery counselling by the ophthalmologist wherein they are told about the impending surgery that will be performed free-of-cost on indigent patients. In fact, patients who are recommended for surgery are brought to SN the very same day and an operation is performed on the next day.Patients who had problems other than cataract were referred to JCOC, the community wing of SN, where indigent patients are treated free of cost.

Manali eye camp
Manali eye camp

A key component of the eye camp is conducting an eye-awareness programme where patients are educated through a video presentation on eye care.

People like Sarojama, are not the only ones who visit the camp, there is 14-year-old Linda who mistook her eye irritation symptoms to the need for wearing glasses only to be told at the camp that her vision was perfect!

Three-year-old Akash was not that lucky. After a lot of cajoling that went in to getting the tiny tot sit still while the optometrist checked his eyes, the news was grim. Akash has myopic error of -9 and -7 in his eyes. Coming from a poor family, a visit to a free eye camp like this ensures that all hope is not lost for people like Akash. He will soon be wearing glasses prescribed for him. Akash’s case highlights the importance of screening school children for refractive errors, which may adversely affect a child’s academic performance.

For 70-year-old Amsa, a widow from Nagapattinam, the case was no different. Having been abandoned by her 2 sons and 5 daughters, Amsa depends on the goodwill of her relatives for her survival. On a visit to Manali, she was brought to the camp by a relative. An examination of her eye revealed the need for a cataract surgery. She was taken to SN where a free-of-cost surgery was performed on her. For residents of Manali, the camp answered their many unanswered questions. A teleophthalmology camp like this one, through support from organisations like CPCL, showcases how technology can be brought to the doorstep of every poor personand how the availability of quality medical care to indigent patients,often an impossible option, can be made possible!

Date: 17/08/09
Donor visits Sankara Nethralaya
Mr. Ramaswamy
Sankara Nethralaya donor and well-wisher Mr. Ramaswamy, Virginia, US, visited Sankara Nethralaya on September 17, 2009.

Date: 23/07/09
Clinton Foundation officials visit Sankara Nethralaya
Clinton Foundation

Scott Taitel and Carlos Fernandez from the William J. Clinton Foundation, New York, visited Sankara Nethralaya on July 23, 2009. Mr. Taitel, who is Director Operations, and Mr. Fernandez, who is CEO of the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative also visited JCOC to know more about the hospital’s efforts in providing quality eye care treatment to indigent patients.

Mr. Taitel and Mr. Fernandez were briefed on the various initiatives and activities undertaken by the hospital. A video presentation on the hospital’s teleophthalmology services was also shown to the two.

The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative recently launched a cataract project in Peru, under which 50,000 cataract surgeries will be performed on the country’s indigent population over the next four years. The visit was to accustom the team on the medical practices that they could incorporate in their programme.

Date: 14/07/09
A celebration, with a difference!
Dr. T. Janardhana Rao

On July 14, 2009 Dr. T. Janardhana Rao celebrated his 70th birthday. The special occasion was marked by a rather special gesture. As a well-wisher of Sankara Nethralaya, Dr. Rao requested his friends and well-wishers to celebrate the occasion by supporting Sankara Nethralaya. And so, the 200 odd guests who attended the event in Melbourne, Australia, where Dr. Rao resides, showed their love and affection for Dr. Rao by making generous contributions to Sankara Nethralaya; nearly Rs. 5 lakhs was raised for the hospital through this act of kindness.

This is neither the first time that Dr. Rao has contributed to Nethralaya nor is it his first tryst with philanthropic activities. Having resided in Melbourne for over 40 years now, Dr. Rao has diligently worked towards the welfare of the Indian community in Australia. His efforts in this regard led to the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi making him the Honorary Consul and 20 years later he was made Honorary Consul General. His bond with Sankara Nethralaya goes beyond the institute; a classmate of Chairman Emeritus Dr. S.S. Badrinath at the Madras Medical College, Dr. Rao attributes the achievements of the hospital to its dedicated team of doctors and staff led under the able guidance of the “visionary” Dr. Badrinath. “It’s not easy to achieve what Dr. Badrinath and Sankara Nethralaya have in the last 30 years,” he asserts. “The hospital is comparable to any other hospital of world standards,” he says.

Over the years, Dr. Rao has worked tirelessly to raise money “every time funding is required” like during the Kargil war, the Gujarat riots etc. Giving back to the community is something which Dr. Rao has been pursuing passionately over the years.

He attributes his success, both as a surgeon and as a philanthropist, to his wife Ms. Vimala Rao. “She has been of immense support. I could not have achieved all that I have without her.” When a team from Sankara Nethralaya interacted with him for this interview, it happened to be his wife’s birthday. And how did the couple celebrate it? Yet another donation of Rs. 1 lakh was made to Sankara Nethralaya. No doubt, then, behind every successful man is a woman and behind every successful organisation, like Sankara Nethralaya, are magnanimous and selfless people like Dr. Rao.

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