There are few who dare to dream and fewer who make that dream a reality. A 65-year old woman, who lost her husband at the age of 23 due to lack of medical treatment, has today set up a hospital to make sure everyone doesn’t suffer the same fate as she did.
Subhashini was born in a poor family of farmers in West Bengal. She was married in an early age of 12. At the age of 23, her husband passed away due to lack of good treatment for an illness at a government hospital. He was a poor labourer. Subhashini was left all alone with her kids. She decided that she would not let anyone else face the kind of difficulties she had to face due to lack of healthcare.
For the next 20 years, She washed dishes, polished shoes, worked as a construction labourer and for 20 years she sold vegetables at Kolkata’s Park Circus, never spending a single penny on life’s luxuries – all this because she had not given up on her dream of building a hospital.
“I used to earn about five paise. Two paise was for rent, two paisa was for eating and I used to save one paise,” she recalls.
The only silver lining in Subhasini’s life was her eldest son Ajoy. He was a good student but she couldn’t afford his schooling. So she sent him to an orphanage. Ajoy became a doctor.
By late 1993, a small temporary shed had been put up on one acre land bought by Subhasini from her life long savings. Her son Ajoy and another volunteer doctor were ready to start work after they finished their shifts at another hospital.
The first day they managed to treat 252 patients. Subhasini had to hold back tears as she watched patients line up outside the shed. “But this is not enough,’’ she told Ajoy. “We need to build a proper hospital.’’
So she went back to the streets to sell vegetables. Her elder son Sujoy, who had graduated from college, joined her and together they began earning more and saving more. Ajoy began knocking on corporate doors and soon funds began to trickle in – from local residents, companies and charities – and on February 5, 1995, the foundation stone for a proper hospital was laid. A year later, on March 9, 1996 the two-storey Humanity Hospital was opened to the public.
It is today spread over three acres and has the best of doctors and medical equipment. Major surgeries for the poor are done for less than Rs.5000 and minor ailments are treated for under Rs.10.
Today Ajoy and his three siblings are Subhasini’s pillars of strength. He attends to the patients in the hospital, his wife feeds them and his sister is a nurse there. With Ajoy at the helm of affairs she now spends most of her time tending to the sick or looking after her grandchildren, but she’s quick to point out that her mission is not over yet.
Even at 76, Pradip Burman, the zestful chairman of Mobius Foundation radiates a contagious enthusiasm when he is talking about sustainability. The environmental crusader, better known to many as the great-grandson of Dabur founder Dr S.K.Burman, has devoted substantial attention towards promoting the concept of sustainability in all aspects of life. He refuses to conform to the convenience and comfort in today’s world which ultimately adds on to the adverse effects of climate change.
Talking to The Logical Indian, Burman emphasised why sustainability as a concept is indispensable for us. “We ought to be aware of what lies ahead of us. Soon we will finish the oil, iron, tin, and coal, and our next generations will be left with nothing. Recycling, banning plastics, stop felling trees for paper… This should become a part of everyone’s lifestyle,” he urges.
Traditional wisdom and modern research
A mechanical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, Burman had always nurtured a keen interest in helping the society, as evident from his graduation project of designing a sonic aid for the visually challenged, which detected obstacles in the way using ultrasonic wave signals.
As an executive for the nature-centric company Dabur, Burman has always opted for natural alternatives to solve his everyday problems like taking Ayurvedic medicine to cure his Arthritis. He later launched the veterinary wing for Dabur – Ayurvet – which provides nature-friendly solutions for animal health care.
A patron of the ancient scientific wisdom of India, Burman always hailed the confluence of “traditional knowledge and modern research”, which he advocated as the Ayurvet motto.
As part of the CSR initiative of Dabur, Pradip Burman founded SUNDESH (Sustainable Development Society) which has been tirelessly working for last 25 years in remote villages for uplifting the rural communities in an environmentally sustainable way.
An advocate of sustainability
Burman believes that sustainability is the indispensable mantra for the world at present. Due to uncontrolled utilisation of the planet’s resources by human beings, the world today stands at a juncture of destabilisation. Today the human race has reached the pinnacle of progress but the advancement is happening in a very unsustainable manner.
Through energy-efficient use of everyday essentials like transport, communication, altered habits of diet, clothing and daily living, some crusaders of sustainability try to reduce their carbon footprint. Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is one of the forerunners toward sustainability goals.
Mobius Foundation aims to change the sustainability dynamics
In 2015, Burman paved the way for the start of Mobius Foundation, focused on sustainability. Named after 18th-century German mathematician August Ferdinand Mobius, the famous Mobius strip has an important philosophical significance. The extraordinary shape symbolises balance and union.
Similar is the essence of Mobius Foundation which wishes to enhance the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” principle to a widespread basis in India, helping generations to come.
Founder Pradip Burman wishes to achieve notable development in education, population stabilisation and renewable energy projects.
A dream school in the making
At Coorg, Pradip Burman’s Mobius Foundation is constructing the World Environment School, Coorg (WESc) where the curriculum will surpass the boundaries of books and classrooms, with a special focus on hands-on learning in close collaboration with the environment. Amidst the pristine natural beauty of Coorg, the school will nurture young minds to grow up into future green leaders. As of now, the school will be open to teenagers, welcoming students from standards 6 to 12.
Needless to say, World Environment School will be the first-of-its-kind not only in India but also in entire South Asia. The school is expected to start from March 2020.
The school promises to nurture the responsible behaviour of citizens of our future.
The Sustainability Conference of 2019
In 2019, the Mobius Foundation has planned an international conference, on the lines of the celebrated earth summits over the past decade. The 2019 International Conference on Sustainability Education (ICSE 2019) aims to bring together environmental activists, practitioners of sustainable development as well as climate change experts to help develop a sustainability-focused curriculum.
It is surmised that the conference will give a platform to innovative concepts of Sustainability Education including an essential change in the existing education system ensuring a wholesome personal development for a student.
The Sustainability crusader
The Mobius founder strongly believes that it is high time to sprout sustainability awareness among a society drowning in consumerism and unknowingly doing irreparable harm to the planet, every second. The best way to achieve this goal is through education which is available to all. At present, the education system is predominantly career-oriented, making the learners a victim of materialism, and thus, their dreams are also outlined in those colours.
Living beyond the limits
When asked about his wish to attain the age of hundred, he strongly asserts that more than becoming a centurion, he wishes his life and work continue to better the society even in his absence. “I have lived my life. I wish that whatever I start before I go, will continue – for the betterment of my country,” says Mr Pradip Burman.
He is also a trustee of the Climate Reality Project – India (affiliated to Mr. Al Gore of the Climate Reality Project Foundation, USA). Climate Reality Project, India, has been actively engaged igniting the spark and spreading the message of climate change amongst educators, policy makers and civil society. The India branch looks after more than 500 trained Climate Leaders, and more than 900 volunteers spread all over the country.
In his journey, Pradip Burman has been a beacon of hope for millions, motivating many to join the movement for sustainability. We wish he continues his tireless efforts for promoting sustainability awareness and inspire generations to come.