Address by Governor at the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Vision Foundation of India in Mumbai
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Vision Foundation of India at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai at 6.00 pm on Saturday 24th February 2018
Padma Bhushan Shri S. Ramadorai, Padmabhushan Smt Rajashree Birla, Dr Kulin Kothari, Managing Trustee, Vision Foundation of India, Shri Navinbhai Dave, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Vision Foundation of India, Padma Vibhushan Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and all the eminent accompanying artists, captains of industry, music lovers, well wishers of Vision Foundation, ladies and gentlemen,
Greetings for a pleasant evening to each one of you.
I am indeed delighted to be here to acknowledge, applaud and convey my appreciation to the Vision Foundation of India on the most significant occasion of its Silver Jubilee.
During the last 25 years of its meaningful existence, the Vision Foundation has done remarkable work in restoring vision and correcting the vision of thousands of people.
I was impressed to note that the Foundation extended the benefit of its state-of-the-world facilities free of cost to more than 2 lakh 35 thousand needy people coming from the socio-economically weaker sections of society, especially people from rural areas, tribal areas and slums.
I congratulate the Vision Foundation on this occasion. I will particularly congratulate and compliment renowned Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Kulin Kothari, who through the ‘Rashtriya Netra Yagya’ and other initiatives brought light in the life of thousands of people across the country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
According to an estimate, of the 37 million people across the globe who are blind, over 18 million are from India. Due to large population base and increased life expectancy, the number of blind, particularly due to age related disorders like Cataract, Glaucoma, etc is likely to increase.
Apart from blindness, low vision affects as many as 45 million people in India. We need collective efforts to prevent, preventable blindness and to correct low vision.
The Constitution guarantees the citizens the Right to Vote. Likewise, we must guarantee the people the ‘Right to See’. It is the most precious right of every human being. It should be our collective endeavour, endeavour of the government, private sector, doctors and service organisations like the Vision Foundation – to restore to the extent possible, the ‘Right to See’ to every affected individual.
The incidence of diabetes is increasing at an alarmingly pace in India. Our lifestyles have changed drastically during the last few years. Nearly 20 percent of diabetics have diabetic retinopathy. This, again, is an emerging area that needs serious attention and strategies for mitigation from the specialists and eye care professionals.
I seriously feel that there should be screening of all children in our schools, especially in rural areas, to check and detect the vision defect among children. Early detection of eye problem will help prevent loss of vision.
There are so many eye banks in our country. But there is lack of enthusiasm among people about eye donation. We need to launch a movement to encourage people to pledge their eyes, so as to provide vision to the visually impaired. A similar effort is needed to restore the hearing ability of the people suffering from hearing impairment or deafness.
As Chancellor of 20 Universities in the State having enrolment of nearly 3 million students, I have asked students from colleges and universities to come forward for voluntary organ donation. We need more efforts to promote organ donation, and particularly eye donation in our country.
Today it has become mandatory for Corporates in India to allocate 2 per cent of their profit for social causes. I think, Corporates and NGOs like Vision Foundation of India can together do a lot, to improve the delivery of healthcare in general and eye care in particular to the large majority of our people.
I congratulate the Vision Foundation of India for its wonderful work in the area of reducing avoidable blindness and wish it Godspeed in its future endeavours.
All of us are eager to listen to the Santoor performance by Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, the world renowned Santoor Maestro. Some of the top artists are providing accompaniment to him. I convey my appreciation and applause to all of them and wish you all an enjoyable musical evening.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!