' Dr G K Hebbar: Balancing Profession and Passion with Elan

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Dr G K Hebbar: Balancing Profession and Passion with Elan
By Florine Roche

July 19, 2011

He may be the ‘odd doctor out’ and therefore is referred to as the ‘mad man’ by other doctors. However, such an acronym does not offend him as he prefers to go by his conviction rather than by any other extraneous considerations. He is Dr Gopalkrishna Hebbar, popularly known as Dr G K Hebbar both to his patients and to the agriculturists from all over Karnataka, who know him as the editor of the farm magazine “Sujatha Sanchike”, being published from Mangalore.

An ENT specialist and an editor of an agricultural magazine may be a rare combo and that is what separates Dr G K Hebbar from the rest of the ilk, apart from many other qualities unique about him. He is one of the very few doctors in Mangalore who issues a receipt for the money paid for consultation and hence has incurred the displeasure of other doctors ‘for setting a bad precedent’. It is gratifying to know that Dr Hebbar has been able to do the balancing act of both these varied fields with flamboyance and easiness for the last 17 years and enjoys it thoroughly. While talking to him one can gauge that he is passionate about his baby “Sujatha Sanchike” which has now blossomed as a young woman of 17 and is inviting askance glances from those who matter.

“I have grown with it and it is my baby and I am passionate about it. I have been involved in every stage of its development in the last 17 years”, says Dr Hebbar. “I am a Saturday editor”, he further explains when asked how he has been able to juggle with these twin responsibilities of managing his profession and his passion for bringing out the monthly agricultural magazine. Though Dr Hebbar is not into active agricultural writings he sits with his editorial team every Saturday and overseas all aspects related to the publication of the magazine.

The idea of starting the magazine had come from his father and brother who are agriculturists. His father was the first BSc Agriculture graduate from South Kanara when he graduated from Banaras Hindu University. He was also the pioneer as far as rubber plantation in Karnataka is concerned. But the idea became a reality only when he was sold the title of a monthly magazine called “Sanchike” for Rs. 2500/- from one of the persons who came to his clinic seeking advertisements. Only later did he come to know that he was deceived because it was not a registered title and that is why it was named “Sujatha Sanchike” when he got it registered. “I learnt a lot in the process of taking a few beatings here and there”, he says benignly with satisfaction write large on his countenance. It was a black and white one sheet (4 page) fortnightly to begin with in 1994 and was distributed free of cost to the rural addresses found in the telephone directory. Subsequently it became a monthly and over the years it has kept pace with the developments in the media by becoming a full-fledged colour magazine.

Young and Blooming

The magazine functions from its office at “Suprabhatha” in Bejai Kapikad and as Dr Hebbar puts it “believes in giving useful information and not just giving volumes of information. When it comes to agriculture if there are some good ideas which are proved successful we publish”. It is not that the magazine blindly subscribes to anything coming to it. Their reporters visit different places and if they are convinced that the particular idea works and can be emulated only then the magazine publishes the articles. From a loss making publication Sujatha Sanchike is now expecting to make profits and these profits will be ploughed back to improve the infrastructure and through that the quality of the publication. Sujatha Sanchike, over the years has been able to garner the attention of farmers from different parts of South Karnataka and even from many parts of Kerala. Apart from topics of agricultural practice, newer methods of cultivation the magazine also covers simple health related topics such as preparing ORS, giving first aid in case of accidents, burns and also cooking tips are provided for the readers.

Dr Hebbar says marketing an agricultural magazine was not easy initially because its readership is confined only to rural areas and the magazine can be sold only those who can read. So it was decided to promote the magazine during Krishimelas and other agricultural related events and the idea really yielded good results. However, he laments that these days obtaining a stall in krishimelas is beyond their reach. He suggests that government should make provisions for farm publications to set up a small stall wherever farmers congregate so that awareness can be created among farmers through such publications.

Dr Hebbar says the farm magazine of which he is the editor, has given him the fulfillment of ‘giving something back to the society’ from which he has benefited immensely. He adds: “Every day we eat our food without bothering to know where it comes from. We have to realize that if we are able to have food, someone else has taken pains to produce it. People will realize this sooner or later”.

It is not that Dr Hebbar has new found love for agriculture or the rural life. He hails from a rural village - Neria, near Belthangady. However, he had his education from St Aloysius College Mangalore. He chose the medical field drawing inspiration from his uncle Dr Harish Hebbar, a Colon and Rectal surgeon, now based in America. He did his MBBS from KMC Mangalore/Manipal and also dabbled in teaching. In between, he had to make a trip to Moscow in 1984 and the experience there brought him face to face with reality. Dr Hebbar had to accompany his sister to Moscow for a limb lengthening procedure as she was the first Indian selected for this treatment. It was a long procedure of selection and Dr Hebbar spent 7 months in Chennai learning Russian before proceeding to Russia. “The Russian experience was an eye opener for me as life was not easy there. Living in minus 40 degree temperature teaches you many things”, he tells me.

Experience – The Best Teacher

If this was his Eastern experience he went to America as a Research Fellow at the world famous House Ear Institute, Los Angeles. During his 1 ½ years stint in America he obtained advanced training in latest techniques of ear surgery. On his return to India he began to work as a private consultant by setting up a modern ENT clinic. Dr Hebbar was the first doctor to introduce computer in his clinic in Mangalore way back in the 1990’s. “The American experience was another eye opener to me and the exposure of the East and the West helped me put a sturdy foundation for my life and career. I took good points from both the worlds”, he asserts. In America he had the privilege of meeting former American President Ronald Regan, who was a client of his boss John House.

Dr Hebbar regrets the trend of specialists donning the role of general practitioners as people approach specialists even for minuscule problems and as such specialists are not able to devote much time to investigate serious problems in detail as it is time consuming. He says “when 50 people are waiting for us outside one cannot concentrate too long on a single patient. As a result quality has taken a severe beating”. His basic mantra of success is based on the belief that a doctor has to give quality treatment. “Without quality treatment patients will not come to us. People are also going to recognize if you are doing honest practice. If we can give quality practice to the people we are bound to succeed”.

His client base includes patients from South Kanara and also from Kanhangad, Kasargod and Kannur. Patients from South Kerala form a major chunk of patients for doctors in Mangalore. He is candidly admits “without patients from Kerala we are nothing” and says that for some reasons patients from these parts of Kerala trust the doctors from Mangalore. He also says these outstation patients need more care and attention as they come from long distance whereas local patients are casual patients.

Dr Hebbar is not associated with any medical colleges or hospitals as he feels “he is free from obligations and is able to work on his own terms”. When asked what is it that prompts him to issue a receipt for the consultation fees he collects, something which no doctor follows in Mangalore, he gives a quick riposte “at the end of the day one has to have a good night’s sleep”. He says he took a leaf out of the book from physician late Dr K P Ganeshan, who always issued a receipt to his patients. “I have invested lot of money in buying good equipments by taking bank loans so that I can provide quality and advanced treatment to my patients. Because of these modern equipments people come to me. It does not make sense if I don’t show any income when I repay the bank loan. We should respect the law of the land and I feel it makes good business sense to be honest by paying say, 30% of the earnings towards income tax and have a peaceful sleep at the end of the day. There was a time initially when I hardly used to earn Rs. 200 or 300 a day, I had to repay my bank loans and over that I was giving a receipt, often wondering whether I was doing the right thing. But I stuck to my scruples and have no regrets”, he says with gratification writ large on his face.

Honesty is the Best Policy

He also feels that good name is the USP for any doctor and says he has been honest in his dealings with the patients. There are instances when he had ruled out surgery recommended by other doctors and patients have recognized this quality of his. Dr Hebbar is greatly troubled by the present trend in the field of education. He says “the education field is cornered by the ‘education mafia’ just like the land mafia. Today a MD seat for radiology is sold at Rs. 1.5 crores under the table, which an average person cannot afford to pay. So people who have money pay and get into the medical field and as a result the quality of people who get into this field is bad. Moreover, universities these days don’t accept bad results and therefore pass their students by adopting different yardsticks”.

When it comes to his own routine, Dr Hebbar is a fitness freak who jogs, runs and cycles to keep him fit. His wife Uma is a home maker. Son Kishan is studying law and daughter Nandini is doing her PG in Cultural Studies. He likes to spend time in his spacious garden located at Hat Hill watching the chirping birds, a rarity these days. Dr Heber has no regrets in life at all and takes life as it comes. People feel despondent only when they compare themselves with others, he argues. He is a happy-go-lucky chap, pursuing varied interests since his student days and says “life has to be lived in its fullest”. Ultimately he says “each day gives you something to look forward to” and I must say I fully agree with him.

Contact Dr Hebbar : 0091 -824-2423077
Email :

Comments on this article
Thevi, MalaysiaTuesday, April 10, 2018
Dr Gopal Hebbar is one of a kind. Good Mannerisms, skills and great personality- the kind of doctor one would choose. I knew him as a friend introduced by mutual friends while studying Medicine in KMC Mangalore. He tutored me a few times and I remember for my viva voce- I was the only one I am told who answered all Questions asked by the Examiners- thanks to his few lessons.
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Maruthi Shah, Hyderabad/AnanthapurWednesday, December 19, 2012
It feels great to know about inspiring personalities like Dr.Gopala krishna.Sir...hats off to you.You are true inspiration for the youngsters like us.
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Dr.Shaji Issac, BangaloreMonday, December 17, 2012
Excellent service model to humanitythanks
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Sham Sunder, RaichurThursday, December 08, 2011
Its good to know such a great person. Congrats doctor. Request to let us know how to subscribe to your magzine.
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Ray Fernandes, Mangalore/DubaiWednesday, July 27, 2011
Dr.G.K.Hebbar is a great person, a noble soul, an a generous Doctor, with a Humane Heart.
He is very health consious, and his physical exercising ability every morning should put all other Doctors in Mangalore silent in words that they call him.
His way of life speaks in volumes as a genuine person.
There is lot to learn from this Man
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kmanwar, mangalore-DubaiSunday, July 24, 2011
Congrats...Dr.GK Hebbar is a very humble sincere and very intelligent person I met him six to seven years before, he has treated my wife’s ear problem. I appreciate his good qualities of honesty, simplicity and dedication towards his job. Further I like to congratulate for editing the farm magazine “Sujatha Sanchike” Dr. Hebbar, InshaAllah I will come along with my wife mostly in the month of September 2011 to see you. Wish you all the best, God bless you
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B Chandrakanth Rao, MangaloreSunday, July 24, 2011
This is how you make a name for yourself - by giving your best to the people who least expect from you - a medical doctor's helping hand for the cause of empowering agriculturists!Best wishes to the good doctor to take his passion and profession to greater heights.
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AR Kunil, MangaloreThursday, July 21, 2011
Gops, one of our LH Clan members, is a multi-faceted personality. He is a great family man., at work, he is 100% dedicated, may be the previous night he was awake till 4am but very prompt at the surgical table with same dedication. He does different exercises to see that his hand is not shaky while performing micro-surgeries. He is a great company for us friends at LH get-to-gather. He loves dancing and keep on dancing till his stress level come down to the norm and he doesn’t care whether anybodies around him. He edits agri-mag, gyms, cycles, adventure-tours, freaks at parties and what not. We love his company.
Gops! Keep rocking!! Wish you all the best!!! God Bless!!!!
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Neria Harish Hebbar, Tarpon Springs, FloridaWednesday, July 20, 2011
@Donald Roche - Nice to hear from you, Donald. Thought Florine Roche may be related to you when I first read the article. Live in Kudla? I'll try and look you up the next time I come.
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Sanjay, BelthangadyWednesday, July 20, 2011
Feeling good to write that he is from my native place Belthangady.Quality, inteligence and simplicity to be learned from Dr Hebbar.He operated my Sister(Mrs Bharathi) for bad growth inside the nose.He is 'GOD' like Doctor for her.
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Donald Roche, Mangalore/MangaladeviWednesday, July 20, 2011
Hi, Harish, thrilled to see your comment on your nephew, Dr.G.K. Hebbar. Remember me ., P.U.C classmate. Last I saw you 35 years back. Often i used to enquire about you with Dilip (who is no more). Six months back I met Dr.G K H.your nephew there also I enquired about you and conveyed my regards. Dr.G K H. He is good Dr. no doubt. I used to read 'Sujatha' when I happen to visit my father in laws place. Kudupu.
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Jude Rego, MangaloreWednesday, July 20, 2011
Not only is Doctor proficient in the above, Cycling, trekking, Dancing and what not are is forte. Keep up the good work in all you do. On behalf of the LH gang, I wish you all the best.
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U.M.SHETTY, BANGALOREWednesday, July 20, 2011
We rarely find such good doctors in the present world .. He is really a good doctor .. let god give more strenth for him to serve the people
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Rudolf Rodrigues, BantwalTuesday, July 19, 2011
I am impressed reading the story of Dr. Hebbar. He is really an out-of-the-box thinker. Everybody knows how people are resistant to change and humanbeings like Dr. Hebbar are the one who inspire change. He is 100% right when he says "we have to realize someone has to take pains for us to have our food". I concur with his views and the day is not far off when food and water will gain importance over everything else! I am very much impressed with his frankness when he says the quality of professional education is going down due to commercialization. Also, a very rare thing to observe both of a surgeons kids in non-medical professions!!
I salute you Dr. Hebbar, you are different.....tusi great ho!! simple living & high thinking!!
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Dr.Madhyastha H, hungarcutta/JapanTuesday, July 19, 2011
Quality, inteligence and simplicity to be learned from Dr Hebbar.
god bless him
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Albert Gonsalves, Mangalore / U.A.E.Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Keep up the good work Dr. We are all really proud of you. God Bless U and u're family.
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Dr Dhananjaya Bhatta , UdupiTuesday, July 19, 2011
Dr GK Hebbar is a nice Doctor He has treated me when I was small for my ear problem and I appreacite his services Hes a good man indeed I am sure God will make him more prosperous and good in coming years Hes a great individual more than a DOctor and I am sure he will be the No1 Doctor in town in Mangalore in near future in coming years
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Rudolf Rodrigues, BantwalTuesday, July 19, 2011
I am impressed reading the story of Dr. Hebbar. He is really an out-of-the-box thinker. Everybody knows how everybody is resistant to change and people like Dr. Hebbar are the one who inspire change. He is 100% right when he says "we have to realize someone has to take pains for us to have our food". I concur with his views and the day is not far off when food and water will gain importance over everything else. I am very much impressed with his frankness when he says the quality of education is going down due to commercialization. Also a very rare thing to observe that both his kids are into non-medical professions!!

I salute you Dr. Hebbar, you are different.....tusi great ho!! simple living & high thinking!!
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geoffrey, hathillTuesday, July 19, 2011
From the article it's evident that this doctor belongs to an endangered species, a species that dedicates services to pateients just at one clinic and issues receiptts for payments received is surely on the brink of extinction!
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Raghu, Mangalore/USATuesday, July 19, 2011
Good work Gopal. We are proud of you.
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Neria Harish Hebbar, Tarpon Spring, FloridaTuesday, July 19, 2011
Nice to see a recognition of Dr. G. K. Hebbar in your paper (a disclaimer - Gopal is my nephew). He is truly a "people person," who has the gift to see the glass as half full rather than half empty. When one seeks good qualities to appreciate in others one is a contented Gopal has that unique ability (and that is the reason he is able to sleep well at night!). He is driven and focused in his professional work, building a reputation as a topnotch surgeon, specializing in microscopic ear surgery and pioneering in many fields, never before offered in Mangalore. In addition, he is a man who seems to enjoy all that is offered to him and enjoy it to its fullest potential, outside the realm of his professional world - be it editing a magazine about agriculture, riding long-distance on his bicycle or learning Russian in order to spend months in the frozen tundra of Russia!
Kudos to the "mad doctor," who has carved out a life for himself that is full and interesting. And those accomplishments and balance hebhas found in life are worth envying and emulating.

Sent from my iPad
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vivian tauro, mangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
u are a good doctor
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Naeem, mangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
He is a special doctor for me
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prasanna, mangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
good doc, always available.
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Royston Prabhu, KSATuesday, July 19, 2011
Very Interesting. Congrats Doc and wish you all the best in both your professions.
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Vivek, MangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
I know personally Dr.G.K. Hebar as patient and Sujatha Sanchike as a reader. I like to appreciate Dr. G.K heber’s concern towards patients ad society. Also I like to congratulate team Sujatha sanchike ,(specially for Ashwin Rao ) for your remarkable efforts to bring pioneer & successful farm magazine in costal Karnataka
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Vivek, MangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
I know personally Dr.G.K. Hebar as patient and Sujatha Sanchike as a reader. I like to appreciate Dr. G.K heber’s concern towards patients ad society. Also I like to congratulate team Sujatha sanchike ,(specially for Ashwin Rao ) for your remarkable efforts to bring pioneer & successful farm magazine in costal Karnataka
Comment on this message     

Ivan Frank, MangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
Dr. Hebbar, I was very happy and thrilled to read your interview in Daijiworld. You are definitely a Doctor par excellence. You have indeed done a marvelous job in editing the farm magazine Sujata Sanchike for the benefit of the farmers and also turning it from a loss making publication to a profitable one. It is high time that we too gave more importance to physical fitness like you do.You stand out with your golden qualities of honesty, simplicity, determination, and dedication.Wish all well and success in the years to come.
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Naresh, MangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
Dr. Hebbar is great personality and made his remarkable indentity in ENT field. Specially for VERTIGO problems.Under his guidance me and many of my friends and their parents were treated very well and VERTIGO is under control. Tx Florine for nice artcle.
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Aveline Pais, Mangalore/MumbaiTuesday, July 19, 2011
Keep up the good work doctor. We are proud of you. We need more dedicated, professional persons like you.
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subhass m rao , mangalore/mumbaiTuesday, July 19, 2011
Gopal anna..i hope you have not forgotten me..subhass rao whittefish exports ..I am extremely happy to read this writeup ...sorry I have not contacted you for long after our prem's episode..I will come to have your darshan next best opportunity..my cell # is 098334 17200 .. pls advise yours..
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Concepta Fernandes, MangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
Dr.Hebbar is a unique person. I did get a chance to interact with him for a radio programme in 90's. I had the honour of being invited for a function related to 'Sujatha Sanchike' at the Town Hall in Mangalore years ago. It was then I came to know about the other side of the 'professional doctor'. Definitely, listening to one's heart and following it is not an easy accomplishment. Dr. Hebbar, you deserve all the appreciation. Good job Florine.
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jerry, belmanTuesday, July 19, 2011
like ur article doctor ,really like meet some time but as not patient as a well wisher or learn some thing from u on plants etccc .keep it up good luck ,all the best wishes to u and ur fly ,pls add ur email id or phone no ,thanks
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Thomas, MangaloreTuesday, July 19, 2011
He is an amazing doctor i have ever met. He has lot of questions to ask before prescribing medicine.
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