right in our midst, we are witnessing a rarity. On the 4th
of April, Dr GN Rao, founder-director of LV Prasad Eye Institute
(LVPEI) is passing on the baton to a worthy successor, Dr
Ravi Thomas. Dr Rao is doing this when his leadership and
abilities are still respected, not when people are waiting
to see him go! In fact he planned this change of guard a
few years ago and has worked diligently and systematically
to facilitate an orderly succession.
graduate of Guntur Medical College and the All India Institute
of Medical Sciences, Delhi, Dr Rao received advanced professional
training (from Tufts University) in the US. After working
as a consultant and adjunct professor of ophthalmology at
the University of Rochester, Dr Rao returned to India in
Rao and his wife Mrs Pratibha founded LVPEI in 1987 as a
not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide eye
care of highest quality to all sections of society irrespective
of their financial status. Right from the beginning, the
institute's focus was on providing quality eye care even
to the underprivileged. Under Dr Rao's leadership and guidance,
LVPEI undertook original research into eye diseases and
vision-threatening conditions that afflict vast segments
of the third world countries. Over the years, Dr Rao and
his colleagues at LVPEI worked diligently to develop a replicable
model of quality eye care delivery that can be emulated
in India and other third world countries.
represents many qualities that are not usually seen in India:
a can-do attitude, a no-nonsense approach, a desire to excel,
and an environment that recognizes, nurtures and rewards
competence and performance. And the results are there for
everyone to see. In the 17 years since its inception, LVPEI
has emerged as a world-class institution and its faculty
and services are recognized across the world for their professional
are many such great success stories in India, and all of
them have common features. They teach us that the culture
of an organization and incentives are important, and the
people whom an institution serves are paramount. We need
not and should not be satisfied with a few islands of excellence.
We have it in us to make all endeavours truly successful
in terms of the real value they add to society. Success
need not be a zero-sum game in which someone always has
to lose to the same extent that another wins.
are lucky to be in the twenty-first century when most human
predicaments are amenable to sensible, practical solutions.
Only incurable infections, old age, death, and taxes have
no remedies! But we need to acquire the capacity to adapt
the best practices everywhere, and replicate successes.
And we can do that while preserving the best in our own
culture and civilization. The city, which witnessed the
disgraceful CGHS scam, also has the LVPEI, and many outstanding
non-profit institutions like the Mahavir Hospital whose
pioneering work in control of Tuberculosis is a model of
public-private partnership. There is much to learn from
them, and rejoice in their successes.
all, we need to propagate a sense of common fate, binding
us all. If someone, somewhere suffers an injustice or avoidable
suffering, it haunts all of us, and hurts all society. We
need to foster excellence not merely for self-actualization
or a sense of obligation to the community, but in order
to help ourselves as potential beneficiaries of such successes.
That is the ultimate lesson in humility. We need each other
and the good work of countless people to fulfill our potential.
By recognizing and respecting excellence, the society at
large benefits - just as feeding the milch buffalo and nurturing
it with care benefits the milk vendor and consumer.