An Indian philanthropist and revolutionist for the tribal development, Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan is known for contribution to the upliftment of forest tribes, mainly Soligas in the Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka. His social service honoured him with Right Livelihood Award and the Padma Shri.
Early Life and Education at a Glance
Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan was born in village Yemalur of Bangalore. He decided to become a doctor at the age of 12 when he went with his father to a village hospital and his father deceased because of the lack of proper medical facilities. He pursued his medical studies and graduated from Bangalore Medical College in the year 1973.
Career and Later Life
One of his friends accompanied him to the Ramakrishna Ashram at Basavanagudi where the teachings of Swami Vivekananda made a huge impact on him. So, Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan joined the health institutions of Ramakrishna Mission after graduation which provided him with the opportunity to travel to the several tribal regions of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka. All these visits to different tribes and the biography of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who worked in Africa, Dr. Sudarshan got motivated and turned into revolutionist for the tribal development. Instead of taking up his medical practise in cities, he approached Dr. Narasimha who was working for the tribal people of Nilgiris. Much of Dr. Sudarshan’s philosophies were derived from Swami Vivekananda’s teachings which state “They alone live who live for others, rest are more dead than alive”. In 1980, as an integrated tribal development project, Dr. Sudarshan started the Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK) and then founded Karuna Trust in 1986 for integrated rural development.
Works of this Great Revolutionist for the Tribal Movement
Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan started his clinic in a small hut but initially it was difficult for his team to bring the tribal people to his clinic as they were afraid of the new medical techniques. Dr. Sudarshan mainly devoted his treatment for the various cases of snake bite, Pneumonia, Tuberculosis and respiratory infections. The main disease spreading amongst the Soliga Tribe was Sickle Cell Anaemia. Dr. Sudarshan created a low cost electrophoresis machine for the treatment in the Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC). He also developed Dental Healthcare and Cancer Control in the PHC. He not only diagnosed patients but also trained the tribal girls nurses and they were posted at the tribal sub-centres. Dr. Sudarshan also provided quality healthcare to all tribal people living below poverty line. Slowly, the treatment and the medical facilities became successful. Hence, starting from health to education, empowerment and livelihood support, Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK) became a comprehensive tribal development programme. The immense happiness Dr. Sudarshan used to derive was from reviving the patient from heart and lung failure and treating the patients with cataracts and seeing them leave the hospital with full vision.
Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan is a man with high discipline. His day starts at 4:30 a.m. with morning yoga, meditation and prayer along with tribal school children and then he visits every individual patient in the ward. He completes his lunch by 2 p.m. along with the children. After that, till the evening he devotes his time for the surgeries. But he has a fixed time of an hour from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. when he does his study of updated medical facilities.
Awards and Achievements Received for his Social Service and Works
- Right Livelihood Award (1994), for his social service and showing how tribal culture can contribute to a process that secures the basic rights and fundamental needs of indigenous people and conserves their environment.
- Padma Shri Award (2000)
- Rajyotsava State Award for social service (1984) – Government of Karnataka
- Ashoka Fellow
- Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice (2014)
There are ample examples of people around us who move back and decline to rise up when faced with any tragedy, but only the real heroes take those opportunities to fight with that adverse situation which pulled them down. Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan is truly a person justifying the above statement.
Some of the famous quotes by this great social worker are:
“To eliminate disease you have to remove poverty. The only way to do that, I have realised, is to organise the people for their rights.”
“The so-called civilised society has a lot to learn from the tribals.”
“There are no pills for poverty.”
He spent his major part of his life in Clinical and Laboratory diagnosis along with supervising, monitoring, teaching and doing research with his team members and turned out to be a true revolutionist for the tribal development. There are no pills for poverty.
Written By: Hetal Kabra