Working ceaselessly for India’s development
Working ceaselessly for India’s development

Secunderabad: Dr A R K Pillai, the 90 year “young” founder of Indian Development Foundation (IDF) is a great motivation to young minds across the country.  Having worked as a writer, a doctor, an academician, a government employee, a philosopher and also a journalist, Dr Pillai is full of positive vibes and compassion for human life. "Let’s care for our fellow beings and make this our gospel for life. Let’s edify and sublimate our lives!" he quotes.

Mortified by the practices of casteism and untouchability, he left home at the age of 14. Lying motionless due to starving for two  days at a railway station in Mumbai and no one to help, he gained a consciousness after a cup of tea was offered to him by a leper. “Out of all the people who passed by, only one person whom everyone had  made an outcaste due to his disease, was kind to me. It moved me from within and I decided that day that when I would grow up, I will pay back my gratitude by serving those suffering from leprosy”, he recollected.

Rocks were hurled, thorns were laid but surpassing all the difficulties, he reached zeniths in every profession he took up, got married to Shyama and was blessed with a baby boy soon after. “I was definitely lost in the rat race of the external world of becoming big, that I had forgotten the promise I made to myself until one night my wife reminded me of it “he narrates. Resigning from his posts, Dr Pillai studied in medical colleges of Mumbai and Germany to become a Dermatology specialist. 

Utilising the contacts he had made in his journey and convincing them to fund the noble cause, he established the (formerly) Indian Leprosy Foundation in 1975. When asked about the activities he undertook at the foundation, he told The Hans India “I wrote about the myths surrounding leprosy and lepers, educated school children about it to spread the message to their neighbourhood and helped in treating as many leprosy patients as I could.”

Many social reformers and eminent personalities from all walks of life like Saint Mother Teresa, architects of our constitution Dr. K M Munshi, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and former President Abdul Kalam appreciated the efforts put in by Dr. Pillai to eradicate Leprosy from the country. “It was an honour that I was appointed as a member in  M.S Swaminathan’s Commission on Leprosy Education and was also approached by the German Leprosy Relief Agency (GLRA) to be their Public Relations Advisor”, gleams Dr. Pillai Sanjay Ram, the project coordinator of IDF in Hyderabad tells The Hans India that ‘Today with a million volunteers across the country and several successful programmes like the Bala Gurukuls designed for encouraging the late bloomers or the Student Leadership Programme designed to nurture and encourage young, aspiring students from all backgrounds to become trailblazers in their profession, Indian Development Foundation (formerly Indian Leprosy Foundation) aims to light up many more lives in the country’.

By Maitreyi Tadepalli