Dr SS Badrinath – Legacy of a Visionary Leader

One would easily agree with the view that a leader broadly plays the role of an organisational architect – driving and synergizing its visionary blueprint with its systems, processes and operating fundamentals.  I would, however, go that extra bit and advocate the view that a leader largely shapes and perhaps even constitutes the organisation’s soul.

In other words, a leader essentially can create a lasting legacy for the organisation through the spirit, energy and thought that s/he helps foster within the organisation.  As we delve on this point, I am tempted to think – how do these leaders build and shape their people, and literally transmit the ability to preserve and enhance the sanctity of the legacy into the next generation?  What really sets their organisations apart?

I believe the leadership of Dr. SS Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya (SN), and ET Corporate Citizen Awardee 2007, offers a fine illustration. Having founded the hospital with nothing but donations (he did not believe in taking a loan, as that would imply “making money” for repayment) with a vision for quality eye care – especially for the poor masses, he has fostered over three decades a world class institution which is also Asia’s only ophthalmic hospital with ISO 9002 certification. On a typical day, around 125 surgeries are performed in the hospital, on patients from all parts of the sub-continent and over 50% of the cases are supported free of cost.

Of course, commitment of this magnitude requires a solid foundation – and for Dr. Badrinath this foundation is his focus on research. Sankara Nethralaya has several research departments, each dedicated to a specialized area such as genetics, histopathology, microbiology and ocular pathology. These departments are recognized worldwide for their path-breaking research publications that appear regularly in medical journals. The hospital’s National Institute for Research in Visual Sciences and Ophthalmology is dedicated to pioneering world-class research and innovations in nano-technology and stem-cell applications relevant to eye care. Dr. Badrinath has also initiated some novel technology-enabled practices like teleophthalmology and mobile ophthalmology that literally take eye care to the masses.

Dr. Badrinath stepped down in 2007 and passed the baton to Dr. Lingam Gopal, as an affirmation of his belief in nurturing younger talent and fresh perspectives. I would reckon it takes little exploration to understand the legacy that Dr.Gopal has inherited from his mentor – an institution that thrives on team work, well organized processes validated by quality standards, high professional standards, an incessant emphasis on research and learning – and above all else, an unwavering commitment to service.

Now wouldn’t you consider this the legacy of a “visionary” leader?

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One Comment on “Dr SS Badrinath – Legacy of a Visionary Leader”

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