Dr. T.S Kanakala is Asia’s first female neurosurgeon to break the myth that only men can do surgeries. When Kanakala opted for neurosurgery in the 60’s, she took her first step towards a challenging world said to be ruled by men. She was born in Chennai and was one among eight children of Padmavathi and Santhanakrishna, the Deputy Director of Public Instruction.
It was a struggle back in 1960’s when medical profession was majorly a male world with only a handful of women practitioners. Kanakala broke the male bastion with her will and hard work. At that time when women were never admitted to the master’s program in general surgery, she was one among other two women who were admitted to the M.S. general surgery.
She was never given a chance to hold a knife as male doctors would alone perform surgeries. She took the final exam six times as the external examiner failed her every time she appeared. Crossing many hurdles and witnessing favoritism in a profession that treats the human body as equal, she finally earned her MS in surgery.
Life was not easy for Dr Kanakala even after she received her MS degree. Her academic papers were always put under a microscope by her fellow researchers in the United States. She was posted at Government General Hospital, Chennai before she volunteered to serve the Indian Army at the end of 1962- 63 India-China aggression.
It was only when the assistant surgeon was on leave and she got a chance to prove her skills and learnings and formally became a surgeon under Dr A. Venugopal. Later she learned and honed her skills under the guidance of Dr B. Ramamurthy and became first woman neurosurgeon in Asia.
Apart from working full-time at Government General Hospital, she also worked with the Adyar Cancer Institute, Epidemiological Research Centre, Hindu Mission Hospital and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. She also worked with numerous organisations that helped the people who could not afford good healthcare facilities.
Efforts for society:
Dr Kanakala is not only brave and dedicated but very compassionate too. After retiring from GGH in 1990, she started the Sri Santhanakrishna Padmavathi Health, Care and Research Centre, named after her parents in Chrompet. The foundation offers several services, such as free medical – checkup and yoga classes.
A life completely devoted to medicine and helping others, she chose to remain single. Her dream is to develop deep brain stimulation kits for stereotaxic surgeries locally, so the treatment can be made easily accessible.
The Logical Indian team salutes Dr. Kanakala, a winner of life time achievement award for doing things differently from others and devoting her time, efforts and earnings for the betterment of the society.
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.