April, 30th, 2009
Today marks the 111th Birth anniversary of the ‘founder of Manipal’. It is said the name ‘Manipal’ came from Manu-pala – small muddy pool. Others refer to it as a barren land of laterite stones in the 40’s. Today there seems nothing muddy or barren about Manipal as more than 12,000 young men and women train themselves at an internationally recognized University so as to lead professional lives in the future . The first step towards that transformation was taken by a doctor who on his mother’s insistence dropped plans to go to Hong Kong and instead set up Udipi’s first nursing home by 1925 and opened a school for the town by 1942. Not just that.
His entrepreneurship-driven mind and visionary efforts gave birth to the ‘Syndicate Bank’. It was with these achievements in his pockets that he desired to train aspiring doctors. It is documented that people of great stature scoffed and ridiculed him, but the man wanted to realise his dreams. His unbreakable spirit gave birth to India’s first ever self-financing, non-missionary private medical college on the laterite stones of the hilltop that came to be known as Manipal. Free India was 6 years old and like many other states of today, the state of Karnataka was not even formed. Infact by the time the state of Karnataka was born, the energetic man, then 58 years old, had begun an engineering college. The speed with which he was transforming the world around him made it obvious there was no stopping him. People who have been in his presence swear by the enigmatic aura that surrounded him –him, the Late Dr Tonse Madhav Ananth Pai.
Today the journey he started is passing through a destination which is called the Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG). It overlooks running of three well established Universities, close to 20 Super specialty hospitals, more than 1.5 Lakh students and 50,000 employees.
Exactly four decades after India’s first private medical college was established, Dr TMA Pai’s son Dr Ramdas Pai put in his might and efforts to give shape to India’s first Private University. Today the university has 21 institutions, some of them top ranked in the country. He also set up and pushed his group’s flagship hospital in Bangalore apart from hospitals in Mangalore and Udipi. Dr Ramdas Pai’s Son – Dr Ranjan Pai assisted and learnt from Dad’s first global footsteps. The ‘brick and mortar’ campuses apart from India have been established in Dubai, Malaysia, Nepal and Antigua. The Distance Education mode serves several centers across the Globe.
Dr TMA Pai -the grandfather, concerned about the ‘future’ set up a school in 1942- at a time when the voice of ‘Quit India’ was echoing the British-ruled Nation. The grandson-Dr Ranjan Pai’s latest venture – ‘Manipal K-12’ is preparing to set up 5 hi-tech schools by early next year and another 50 by 2015 – a time when India is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies. If the grandfather built an entire medical college and hospital in the middle of no-where, the grandson has set up India’s first retail healthcare business – outlets promoting health and wellness in the middle of ultra-modern shopping malls in metro-cities.
The middle class is apparently concerned over the rising cost of education in India. Among their kids- the younger- often rebellious crowd, Manipal is spelt as Money-pal. From Manu-palla to Money-Pal, the laterite stones have been resiliently holding fort. There is hardly anyone on this earth who is not pinched while setting loose his or her purse strings. Arguably, the government’s socialistic outlook has regrettably promoted such heavy subsidies that common man fails to realise the actual cost of education. Even those who pay their taxes and rightfully demand provision of higher education know that the government’s performance for the billion-strong crowd from a bird’s eye view – is least said-dismal. Thus the grudge when he or she uses the ‘opportunity’ provided by Private colleges at the actual cost of education. Deep down every student who has come to Manipal over the last 56 years knows that he or she could somehow afford and thus used the ‘opportunity’.
There is little doubt that men like Dr TMA Pai were visionaries who thought much ahead of their time.
What else would you like to say if a young doctor worked with grit and courage towards innovative solutions for high-intensity problems like illiteracy, ill-health and poverty. It speaks tons about the wisdom of an entrepreneur who advocated Public Private Partnerships and Women Empowerment at a time when the nation had begun its tryst with destiny with more than half its population struggling to survive. Perhaps, even today all this nation needs is Opportunity-creators to create opportunities; millions are readily and expectedly waiting to grab them.