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Year : 1991  |  Volume : 39  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 42-44

Presidential Address


Correspondence Address:
Sudha Sutaria

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Sutaria S. Presidential Address. Indian J Ophthalmol 1991;39:42-4

How to cite this URL:
Sutaria S. Presidential Address. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1991 [cited 2023 Dec 11];39:42-4. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/ijo/pages/default.aspx/text.asp?1991/39/1/42/25903

Great days do not come often in people's lives. To­day is a special and memo­rable one in mine. Thank you, all of you for having made it possible. Come with me then on a brief and sen­timental journey so you may know better the heart that heeds you, the mind that leads you.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I take this occasion to express to you my friends from home and abroad, my colleagues, my students and my most revered seniors and teachers, many of whom are happily with us today how much this means to me. The faith and trust you place in me on to do my best and spare no effort. Perhaps in my own small way I may brighten a little more the lamp of our organisation lit by our forebears.

For how can man die better Than facing fearful odds For the image of his fathers And the temples of his Gods?


Although we are all products of life's experiences some people play a special role in each of our lives. As I share with you my moment in the sun, I pay homage to the special influences in mine.

I pay homage to the memory of Dr. S.N.Cooper, oph­thalmologist and teacher par excellence, gentle and noble; we who worked with him are fortunate indeed.

He is not here amongst us any more, but he was, but he has, each year for twenty years and more, a part of this annual gathering and especially popular among the lady wives ! I would like to thank him for leaving behind the strength and fragrance of a beautiful life together that grows and never diminishes. He was my husband Naresh.


Will you be our first lady president ? - a question I have parried again and again. No, I am indeed not the firs', at least not this time. Dr. Miss A.B. Laker an ophthal­mologist from Ludhiana was the first. Sh 3 chaired the fifteenth AIDS conference in 1954 at Nagpur which was later to become my own hometown. I show you photographs of rare value.


As your president during a singularly important year, I have set myself four tasks which need to be done. I do not propose to bite more than I can chew. I offer you three short term goals all to be accomplished during this year of office and the last an on going project.

All these can only be accomplished with your active support and involvement. My goals are not mine alone, they are ours. Let me elaborate.

All of us celebrate birthdays, but Golden am 'versaries are special events. Let us together make 1992 a con­ference to remember both academically and other wise. Our Scientific Committee has already laid out an im­aginative programme with symposia, awards, orations, films and an enormous scope for free papers for the enterprising. Only the trimmings and frills remain.

We also hope to give these celebrations an international flavour. To this end some of our neighbouring countries have been invited to participate. The final shape will soon emerge here at Bangalore.


Next, we would like to recognise those amongst us who unfailingly come to the conference year after year and contribute by their presence and participation. We are evolving a system of points that each one of us may strive to win. The awards will begin with the Golden Jubilee - but for this year I have the pride and privilege to honour three of our colleagues who have been to every conference since 1951 - forty continuous years of active contribution !

They are Dr. Murli Sen Guptha past president of our society from Calcutta. Dr. Gopal Sen, the vigilante of our Accounts - who can detect a flaw of seven naya paisa in a budget of lakhs. Thank you Gopal a for your keen scrutiny - we have come to rely on it. And lastly, another past president Dr. Madan Gopal from a little place called Amaravati whose enthusiasm and dedication are beyond compare. And now Ladies and Gentlemen - a few thoughts on matters I feel strongly about.


We live in a fantastic age. In the last decade of this century we have so much to look forward to. Time gets crowded, communication ' o facile, knowledge and information circle round the globe at the press of a button and every surgeon in his own home can study the perfection of the masters again and again till he acquires the' skills himself.

Who would have thought one could swim in the vitreous, wave the magic wand of an endolaser, change parts in the eye like inn a motor car and bring once again to the glory of seeing and living, those in the abyss of dark­ness?

The miracle of modern surgery is at our doorstep and for many of us an integral part of our daily practice. Here, in the forum of this conference we pass it on. We hope to create a ripple ever expanding that it may reach the farthest removed peripheral hospital and th' !one oph­thalmologist manning it, in the service of those in need. But the ripple can only reach those who are part of the pond.


However, it is this advance in knowledge and technology that is causing a divide. The enormous costs involved make it prohibitive for many of us to be able to share the thrill and excitement of newer surgical adventures.

For many of us there seems to be a state of constant disappointment a feeling of being left out, almost of being ostracised. One part of our community has six slit lamps, three vitreous machines, four microscopes while another institution in the same city is struggling to get battery cells for its torchlights ! The unfairness of it all is demoralising.


I now address myself to those who are young, who have a lifetime of working ahead : come together, pool your­selves and your resources, pool your knowledge and enthusiasm and travel on this modern and exciting path in unison. Together, you can have it all.


What shall we do with those who have it all and will not use it ? I now address myself to those involved in training and teaching, especially in the smaller colleges, I urge you shed your shyness, resolve your egoconflicts and reticence. Join the young and eager, keep abreast. We the AIOS offer the best there is, from our country and abroad. After all what are these courses and workshops for? If the annual All India Conference is too big and too expensive, every late offers its own updates of a very high order. You owe it to the student in your charge to extract the most and give the best. It is a shame that we still turn out ophthalmologists who have never used a slit-lamp nor made a cataract section. We cannot be punished for it but are we not traitors to the country any the less ?

The end product of formal teaching is so variable all over the country. I wonder if it could be categorised A.B.C. much like professional pilots. They are all pilots but he who flies the President of India certainly does not belong to the same category as the cargo flier dropping sup­plies.

It is no shame, in fact it is good to know our own limitations, when our capabilities are not fully exploited, either for want of training or equipment. Let each one of us recognise these, each in his or her own way and seek expert advice without shyness or delay. It is infinitely more expensive to lose an eye and may be a reputation than to try and economise. I hate to admit it, but our attitudes are too casual, our approach to the patient perfunctory at times. Let us not justify or seek excuse. Let us correct the situation.


A word about equipment : We must know more about the equipment we buy. A working and conceptual knowledge is essential before we make a heavy invest­ment. Most times it is the simple things that go wrong, a plug doesn't fit in the socket or a fuse has blown which could easily be replaced. You must have heard of the Arab Sheikh who went into the desert in his million dollar Mercedes. It stopped and wouldn't move, the night went bye and in the morning came an American in his ram­shackle Jeep and offered to help. He looked the beauti­ful car over, touched it almost reverently, opened the bonnet, took a spanner, tightened a nut and gave a whack - Hurrah! the limousine started. In settlement, the sheikh was surprised at the sum of ten thousand dollars. Explained the American, it was only two dollars for the twist and the thump - the rest was for KNOWING what to do. So my friends, would you rather be the Sheikh ?

In India we cannot, just cannot afford the luxury of ignorance. Self sufficiency is the name of the game. Before you invest, better be warned than be fooled. Let us recognise that so much of our equipment comes from abroad with no guarantee or manuals. Spares and re­placements are not easily available - some agents in our country have no scruples about delays in servicing at exorbitant costs- we ophthalmologists used to being trusted and trusting, ourselves have been taken for a ride too long.

I propose to set up a Recommendation Cell - A body that will look after the specific needs of a doctor.

We shall standardise on three or four of available equip­ment, weigh them against the costs and after sales service, recommend the best buy for specific needs. A doctor in a tehsil place wanting to switch from a loupe to a microscope does not need motorised controls and x-y couplings. We will give guidelines and makes it possible for him to decide WHICH ONE to buy.

In fact in England there is a magazine called "WHICH" tha'. constantly monitors the market for domestic ap­pliances and household goods. It gives its verdict without fear or favour. Because of its honest analysis of available goods - the bad point and the good, the British consumer swears by it.

There is no reason why we in the AIOS cannot provide a consumer guidelines to our members. We have fallen for sales talks, gimmickry and glossy pictures often enough. It is time we protect our doctor who spends several years of savings on equipment from coming a cropper.

Let's get our values right, if we want to get better ophthalmology to the masses of our country, we need reliable equipment at fair prices - with least failures and faults. Surely it is possible to strike a balance.


Now, I place before you my last thoughts. I hope they will be with you for a long time.

We have nine or may be twenty one million blind in our country. About 4000 of us in the AIDS. There are as many still outside our fold or even more. About 50% of eye surgeons in our country are underemployed.

There are 365 days each year of which 52 are Sundays and let us say 103 are holidays and other days.

Are we willing, each one of us to do one free cataract operation in, our clinics each day of the remaining 200?

Alternatively, will each one of us be prepared to give one week of our lives for the next ten years to working for cataract blindness wherever and whenever asked ?

Even so, it is too little too late.

Nevertheless, the ball is squarely in our court. May I count on each one of you to join in this endeavor ? Then let us form a volunteer corps and tackle the problem on a war footing. You will find a little card in your kit bag - fill it up and hand it in. We will call for you when we are ready. The AIOS is working on it. I am sure you will not fail, the hoping trusting millions waiting to see the LIGHT.

I thank you, all of you once again for such patient listening. I am sure you will enjoy this conference to the fullest. That will be the truest reward for the organisers Dr. Murthy, Dr. Chamraj and their team as also for us.


  [Figure - 1]


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