Building up a charitable hospital in Derah Dun
During our search for the house where Santhal was born in Mussoori we met Bali Deol, a good friend of Suhurdrapo in Derah Dun, who apparently wants to build up a hospital. He has already bought a piece of land and has sufficient finances too.
It was clear to Susanne and me that we had to pursue this line. So we drove to Derah Dun and arranged a meeting with Suhurdrapo for dinner. He lives near the S.P. Singh Institutes, Balawala, Derah Dun. We did not have any idea who we would be meeting, a student or older gentlemen. Suhurdrapo called us somewhat later, his driver was in town and could collect us. So he has a driver, does not seem to be hard up. So we hurried to get out of our travelling clothes, have a quick shower and get into some decent clothes.
The driver picked us up in a large new Honda, and drove out of Derah Dun along smaller roads and after quarter of an hour stopped and blew the horn in front of a large iron gate until the guard opened it. It was dark and we could only make out large buildings in the distance, well maintained green gardens and many, many young women, who were standing around in groups or going to and fro. We got out and followed the driver, who hastily walked towards one of the buildings and we ended up in an office. One older woman and two students welcomed us. We did not quite know why we were here.
We were accompanied into a large inner court, where there were very many students. We wondered again what we were doing here and our companions did not know either. They thought that we wanted to see the institute. Only the older woman knew a Suhurdrapo, that was Mr. S.P. Singh, and the student added that we should rather call him Mr. Singh. He is the manager of this college, the "Sandar Bhagwan Singh Post Graduate Institute Of Biomedical Sciences and Research". This college trains paramedical personnel, like physiotherapists, pharmacists, pathologists, radiologists, microbiologists, etc? Mr. S.G. Singh, the father of Mr. S.P. Singh, had initiated the college ten years back. He died two months ago. The college has 1200 students in the meantime and we were standing in the middle of the campus and living quarters of the female students.
Slowly we understood... Now it was getting time to meet Suhurdrapo, I mean Mr. S.P. Singh. His driver brought us to his residence, a large two-story building with a long drive that reminded me of a mansion in the Southern States.
First we chatted with Suhudrpao's mother, who told us that her grandchild had needed to see a physician because of a stomach ache. Short after Suhudrpao came back with his son. Suhudrpao is in his late thirties and was dressed casually, his son had very long curly hair, as is the custom for a Sikh, who never cuts his hair. I told how we were searching for the house where Santhal was born and met Bali, a friend of Suhudrpao. I also told him about our journey and my desire to build up a hospital in India.
Suhudrpao told us about the recent death of his father, how he was a farmer and left Pakistan, when India was divided after independence. His father became an advocate for farmers' and workers' trade unions and had a dream to do something for the education of youth.
Ten years ago he started the college, which is named after his grandfather S.B. Singh, for the training of "paramedical" specialists and that without capital! By consistent reinvestment of the study fees this college has now grown to 1200 students. The charity principle consists of the wealthy half of the student's fees financing the other half, the underprivileged, but talented students. The fast growth of the college impresses me because in only ten years the college is apparently the most renown in North India.
During our discussion the servants regularly served delicious snacks. And Suhudrpao made sure that my whisky-glass was never empty. Susanne had gone upstairs with the younger daughter and conversed with the women over female topics.
Suhudrpao carried on to tell that he was planning a charity hospital with 250 beds in the town center of Derah Dun. He already had acquired a piece land for this purpose. At the moment building drawings are being sketched by the same architect, who built the Apollo Hospitals (largest private hospital chain in Asia).
Initially only the building of an outpatient clinic with 30 beds is planned. The building should be finished by 2006/2007. Suhudrpao believes that physicians from Derah Dun will work there for weeks or years without payment, because they feel obligated to the community. He wants to supply them with free accommodation. Also he imagines that foreign physicians would like to work here.
We continued our discussion over dinner. Mutton mughlai (spicy lamb in thin sauce), Pepper chicken, Matar panir (green vegetable with fresh cheese) and as supplements Roti (round, flat bread), rice, Popadum ("crisp bread" made from chick pea flower), Raita (yogurt with cucumber), salad and as dessert sweet delicacies.
From my work in India I advised the consideration of some important points. The physician should be well trained and understand the mentality and living conditions of the patients. With foreign physicians the language problem is a very important point. Suhudrpao was grateful for this, because he is not medically educated and has not spent much thought about the running of the hospital. According to his opinion, the building must first be standing so that the restr can develop from this. That seems to be the way this family do things, because his father had built up the college in a similar way. We want to stay in contact and Suhudrpao would be pleased about physicians and nurses joining in on his project.
After an extremely interesting and fulfilled evening, Susanne and allowed ourselves to be taken back to our grubby hotel by his driver. The hotel manager had been waiting for us completely excited, because we had had dinner with the local celebrity, Mr. S.P. Singh, and muttered something about the laundry being finished punctually tomorrow.
Telephone (Office): 0091-135-2685753
Webpage of the Sardar Bhagwan Singh Post Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences and Research
A couple of photos taken from the page http://www.sbspgi.com