Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy, ophthalmologist and founder of the Aravind Eye Hospital, was honoured by Google on his 100th birthday with a doodle. Born on October 1, 1918, in Vadamalapuram of Tamil Nadu, he was known as Dr V to his colleagues and patients. Venkataswamy was a visionary ophthalmologist, who dedicated his life to eliminating needless blindness. Despite being stricken with rheumatoid arthritis at an early age, he learned how to perform surgery to remove cataracts, one of the major cause of blindness.
Working towards the cause, he set up eye camps in rural areas, training programmes for ophthalmic assistants and also set up a rehab center for blind people. Acknowledging his contribution, the Government of India conferred him with the Padmashree award in the year 1973.
His ambitious venture, Aravind Eye Hospital started as an 11-bed facility in 1976 but has since grown and spread across the nation and serves a huge number of people in need. Doctors mortgaged their homes and donated their own furniture in order to finance the facility initially. Out of the 11 beds, six were devoted to those patients who could not pay for the treatment and the other five beds to those paying only as much as they could afford.
Having performed over 100,000 successful eye surgeries throughout his life, Dr V believed, “Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must also be the joy of doing something beautiful.”
The doodle appears half blurred and half clear with the caricature of Dr Venkataswamy at the center, representing the vision of the ophthalmologist to help save people’s eyesight. It is an appreciation of the beauty of his endeavours and his role in helping people see the world better.
He died on July 7, 2006.