Friday, October 19, 2012
What does it take to become an 'institution'? A sense of purpose, for starters. And the stick-to-it-iveness to ensure that the zeal does not falter. For Sankara Nethralaya, the first was clear: to bring world class eye care to India. Since 1978, they have been doing just that, and along the way, they have been bestowed with several awards: 'Best Eye Hospital in India', 'Business Superbrand', 'Social Enterprise of the Year', 'Best Managed Charitable Organization' are some of them.
Is there a contradiction? A 'business superbrand' from a 'charitable organization'? The efficiency with which Sankara Nethralaya is run is vastly different from the majority of charity organizations. True, they are backed by some of the biggest names in India, but that backing has been hard earned and well deserved. Sankara Nethralaya sees about 500,000 patients every year and performs about 40,000 surgeries. Patients come from all over India, as well as from neighbouring countries. In fact, this hospital has had to set up an exclusive, dedicated information centre at the Chennai Central Railway Station, because there are quite a number of people who just get on to a train and come to Chennai, knowing that the Nethralaya would not turn them away merely because they did not think about making an appointment.
Over the years, the charitable organization has also become reputed for its academic excellence, offering Fellowship programmes in a few opthalmic super-specializations. It has also expanded beyond this campus in Chennai. Apart from a couple of other satellite centres in Chennai, Sankara Nethralaya is now present in Bengaluru, Kolkata, Rameswaram and Tirupathi. The CU Shah Eye Bank, set up in 1979, is a pioneer in driving eye donations across the country (here's the link, if you wish to sign up!). With so much happening at this institution, it truly lives up to its 'Nethralaya' - 'Temple of the Eye' - name!