Mumbaikars gather on August 15 to embrace a free of cost pediatric cardiac Hospital in their midst
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” There are hundreds of individuals who are selflessly, arduously, and devotedly working at the grass root level, uplifting the society in some way or the other, be it health, education, water, sanitation, environment, moral, social or any other social cause. However, when likeminded individuals collaborate on issues they are passionate about, and when they come together under one thought – the unity of thought that India is One Nation, and that the issues plaguing every corner of the country is equally important – then together the impact created is much greater and a lot more farfetched than an individual’s effort, no matter how big or small.
Conceptualised as a platform to bring together passionate people committed to the cause of nation building through various societal initiatives, ‘One Nation’ was established as an initiative in Bangalore on the eve of 67th Independence Day. ‘One Nation’ aims to bring together visionary social leaders and senior corporate professionals to collaborate towards building a strong and prosperous nation. Hosted by Sri S M Krishna, Former External Affairs Minister, Government of India, the maiden conclave brought together those striving to build the nation through Free Nutrition, Free Education and Free Healthcare.
After successful conclaves in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, the One Nation Conclave in Mumbai was hosted by Padma Bhushan Sri Sunil Gavaskar, in partnership with the Aditya Birla Group was organised at the Mumbai Cricket Association Club on August 15, 2018. The theme of the conclave to mark the 72nd Independence Day was ‘Healthy Nation, Wealthy Nation’. The event, which took place in the divine presence of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, an eternal witness and inspiration for these projects, drew a cross section of people from across Mumbai and India, focussed on how the society and the individual as a part of the collective whole can come forward to better the lives of children with congential heart disease.
Healthcare needs a paradigm shift in the country. The healthcare services bear severe inequities, and the private sector is becoming increasingly inaccessible due to the inflating costs of care. Therefore, the need for not-for-profit institutions and their contribution to the areas of basic services such as education, healthcare and nutrition is paramount, to further the efforts of the Government is a perceptible need.
The programme commenced with opening remarks from the host Mr Sunil Gavaskar, former Indian cricketer who welcomed the gathering. He shared his views on how it is important for citizens of the country to rise to the occasion, and support the cause of according the right to a healthy childhood, to children. His remarks were followed by the introductory address of Mr A Balasubramanian, Chief Executive Officer, Aditya Birla Sun Life Asset Management Company Limited. He outlined the objective of the One Nation Conclave in Mumbai -compassionate healthcare – and said, “Health of a child is the true wealth of the nation. We must introspect to see how each of us placed in various capacities can make a difference to them”. He highlighted how the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development and the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals for Pediatric Cardiac Care cross paths, as both Institutions work towards bettering the lives of the weaker sections of the society. In his address, he spoke about the upcoming free pediatric cardiac hospital – The Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care and Training in Pediatric Cardiac Skills in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai. The Hospital will be inaugurated in November 2018 to treat infants and children with Congenital Heart Diseases (CHD), with patient screening already underway.
Sri Balasubramanian also mentioned another noble initiative – ‘Chaitanyam Institute for Human Excellence in Healthcare’ in Thane which will nurture the caregivers, the ones who touch life, therefore need to be moulded differently in an environment that blends compassion with competence, empathy with efficacy, selflessness with responsiveness, and nobility with ability. ‘Chaitanyam’ will offer specialised courses for nurses and paramedics, and will be offered completely free of any cost again.
The keynote address that followed next was delivered by Mrs Rajashree Birla, Chairperson of Aditya Birla Center for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, which oversees the CSR programmes and projects of the Aditya Birla Group. Mrs Birla highlighted how investment in healthcare for the poor is an absolute necessity and spoke of the Centre’s initiatives with the primary healthcare centres in 5,000 villages across India and the world, in providing vaccines to prevent any communicable diseases. She appreciated the new model of healthcare of the NGOs emerging to deal with the large number of cases in congenital heart defects surfacing in Maharashtra and India. In her closing remarks she offered her partnership on behalf of the Institution to the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani chain of hospitals.
The next set of talks were delivered by two key members of the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals, set up by the Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust. The first hospital was inaugurated at Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh in November 2012, and the second hospital very close to the national capital New Delhi, in Palwal, Haryana in November 2016. Over 6,500 free pediatric cardiac surgeries, and over 65,000 little hearts have been mended between both these hospitals. The vision is to create in Mumbai a National Institute of Pediatric Cardiac Sciences, as the Government of India states that the commonest defect at birth is Congetinal Heart Disease. Almost one in every 100 children are born with congenital heart defects, and 23,600 children are born every year in Maharashtra alone. The burden and pain of CHD is a cruel and unfortunate reality today, as there is a prevalence of 25 million of the country’s population living with this disease.
Dr Ashish Katewa, Director of the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals, Naya Raipur in his gripping presentation spoke of how timely treatment can help extend an infant’s life by six decades. He underscored the need to protect India’s children from premature death and disease. Dr Katewa said, “When one operates a 70 years old man with a sick heart, one hopes to add another 5 to 10 years to his life. He is past his productive years and his contribution to the society will be limited. Whereas, if one operates a one year old child with a correctable cardiac defect, one is adding 70 years of productive life.
If we were to monitise this impact, there is a 200 fold return on the initial one time investment. In simper terms, if the society invested 2000 USD (cost of surgery for a typical congenital heart defect), the lifelong return is expected to be 4 millions USD (calculated from per capita GDP).” Dr Katewa is probably the youngest doctors in the world to have performed over 5,000 pediatric cardiac surgeries!
The occasion was also marked by the presenting of a specialised stethoscope by Mr Arvind Thiagarajan, a Scientist from Bay Area, California who was fortunate to have been mentored under late Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. Sri Arvind has invented the device to diagnose any abnormalities in a child’s heart. The world’s first intelligent stethoscope integrated with ECG leads connects through bluetooth to a mobile application and displays real time the heart sounds, ECG waveforms and any cardiac murmurs present. The smart steth called ‘ViScope’ can be used even by non-medical people to screen children with congenital heart diseases at the point of care, in rural areas.
The next speaker was Mr C Sreenivas, Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Health and Education Trust. He spoke of how it is important to create an ecosystem of preventive, curative, training and research to be able to deal with a defect like CHD. He elaborated on the efforts to prevent the early onset of this disease by addressing the nutrition concerns of pregnant mothers through the Divine Mother and Child Program, which has already screened close to 10,000 rural pregnant women, 26,000+ children from Government schools and Anganwadis, through many skilled doctors who volunteer their time and effort towards this noble cause, across four States in India. Sri Sreenivas spoke of the establishment of the hospitals as an investment in to healthcare and not an expense. He highlighted the future steps of this Institution with other hospitals that would come up in the next few years.
The wonderful evening culminated with Santoor Maestro Padma Vibhushan Pandit Shivkumar Sharma who enthralled the audience with his melodious music effortlessly. The packed room of people who had gathered from all walks of life, dutifully and passionately sang the National Anthem and affirmed their support towards children with congential heart disease.
Bengaluru – ONE NATION YOUTH INSPIRATIONS!
August 15 2018, the 72nd year of Independence saw many youth in the garden city of Bengaluru wind their way to ONE NATION YOUTH – Inspirations 2018 organised at Auditorium of RV Dental College, a popular dental school in Bengaluru.
The landmark event was hosted, managed, coordinated, executed and celebrated by the young alumni of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Group of Institutions. Over 800 youth from various colleges participated, along with invited guests. The unique event was a platform for youth to deliberate and develop solutions for the present day social issues. As guests and youth arrived they were greeted at the registration desks and given a tour of the exhibition of activities undertaken by the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Group of Institutions, Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospitals and Annapoorna Breakfast Programme.
Among the guests were some remarkable people who were being felicitated for their service to society, Mr Babar Ali – the world’s youngest headmaster who started a school at Murshidabad at the age of 9. Dr Shankare Gowda, known as the 5 Rupees doctor, has served thousands of patients in the district of Mandya and continues to help. Ms Ashwini Angadi, Founder of BELAKU Academy for the Blind and Mr Nawaz Shareif, Founder of People for Animals, Bengaluru.
The evening began with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by the Chief Guest Sri T B Jayachandra, Former Minister of Karnataka and other invited guests. Sri T B Jayachandra in his opening remarks urged youth to embrace service and selflessness, as only then society can transform. He cited the example of the people being felicitated and said that, despite greatest adversity facing them, they had found their greatest purpose in life.
This was followed by the One Nation Youth inviting youth to serve fellow beings. The felicitation ceremony began with a video chronicling the life of each of them. The youth were asked express their learning from these icons. A very responsive audience expressed their thoughts saying “one doesn’t have to be rich or important to make a change”. “People doing good will always face criticism, but they always move ahead”. A group of lawyers said they would like to make legal aid accessible to those who cannot. A professor who came with her students expressed, “We are caught up in bookish knowledge and do not spend time on issues that truly matter “. “Saving water, giving shelter to rescued pets”, “Showing concern for all life”, were all various responses from youth. The Annapoorna Breakfast Programme and the Divine Mother and Child videos inspired the youth to become volunteers for service.
Brother Vijay Sai and Brother Natesh Shetty began the next session on the science of happiness and how the daily DOSE of hormones play an important role in the wellbeing and happiness of individuals. The audience responded with a loud ‘Yes’ when asked if they wanted to experience happiness by serving others. Connecting with others, empathy for people in need, crystallising dreams into goals, set the session up for setting SMART goals and the next interactive session. This session had youth in the audience break out into groups and talk about a societal challenge and how to address them using SMART goal technique – Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Actionable, Realistic and Time Bound. The 15 minutes discussion saw a host of ideas generated by the youth like planting trees, reviving arts and crafts of India, distributing 1 lakh Kannada language books, prevention of suicide, sexual harassment, reduce use of plastic, saving water, spreading hygiene among children and many more such ideas came up from the youth. They were asked to further develop their ideas and connect with each other and develop a SMART plan. The HOPE video with its tagline of “Our hunger is to stop their hunger “inspired many youth to serve the hungry.
Major General V P S Bhakuni in his speech, stressed on the importance of being united, fighting corruption, creating leaders for a new India. Speaking about the SAI student, he highlighted that with their dedication and commitment and Love for Swami, these young men and women are determined to make a change and take India to greater heights. He administered the oath for youth and in unison the hall echoed with the sounds of youth taking up service and making India a great nation.
After the grand felicitation ceremony and the highly energetic and insightful discussions, it was time for the cultural programme. Sri Mandolin U Rajesh and his team played to a full gallery and Vande Mataram got everyone into a patriotic fervor. SAI’s ANGELS, the brass band of the Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institution, Muddenahalli Campus performed next, and with piece of music they played, the entire hall reverberated in thunderous applause. The audience paid a tribute to the ANGELS by lighting up their mobile phone torches. The atmosphere was electrifying and with a fitting tribute to Independence Day, the event concluded with the National Anthem.