On October 1, 2018, Google came out with a doodle honouring Indian ophthalmologist, Govindappa Venkataswamy, on his 100th birthday.
Born in 1918 in a small village of Vadamalapuram in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, Dr. Venkataswamy was crippled by chronic rheumatoid arthritis at a young age 30. Despite his physical health, he earned a M.D. degree from Stanley Medical College in Madras. He, then, went on to join the Indian Army Medical Corps and worked under the obstetrics department, a short-lived career owing to his severe health condition. Fighting all odds, at the age of 33, he studied ophthalmology and learned the fairly new procedures of the cataract surgery, which was one of the prime reasons of blindness.
Dr. Venkataswamy joined the Madurai Medical College and was promoted as the head of the department of ophthalmology. During his tenure, he introduced a number of programs and workshops for awareness regarding eye health and eye diseases.
Recognizing his work towards fighting blindness, Dr Venkataswamy has numerous national and international awards to his name. He was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1973. A movie titled ‘Infinite Vision’ documents his life and work dedicated to service of the humanity.
Post-retirement, Dr. Venkataswamy, founded the Aravind Eye Hospital in 1976. In his endeavour to eliminate blindness, the hospital started with merely 11 beds and 4 medical officers. Today, it has nearly 4,000 beds making the Aravind Eye Hospital one of the largest facilities in the world for eye treatment. The scale and self-sustainability of the hospital also led to a 1993 Harvard Business Case Study.
Affectionately called Dr. V, he is best known for developing high quality, low-cost service delivery lens models (AuroLabs) that brought back the sight of countless people from across the world. He has performed over 6.8 million surgeries related to eye and its problems and is known to perform over 100 surgeries a day. He passed away on 7 July 2006.
Being a staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo, Dr. V is known to blend spirituality in his daily life. He has also spoken at the Harvard Divinity School on the theme of living a spiritual life in the modern times. He is well known for his selfless public service.
In his words, “You don't have to be a 'religious' person to serve God. You serve God by serving humanity”.