Good people build careers. The great ones, build the nation. This is the principal theme in the storyline of Surgeon R Admiral V.K. Singh. The man has chosen one of the noblest routes to reach his personal summit of greatness : Making healthcare more affordable for everyone, without sacrificing quality - especially those who need it most.
The nobler the summit, the more demanding the climb. Surgeon R Admiral VK Singh’s saga is no different. His is a mission fraught with roadblocks and adversities from the very start, given the gargantuan scale of the task. India is, after all, a huge country; A land where resources, systems and support are perpetually in short supply. It was a mission not for the faint of heart, calling for extra-ordinary grit, commitment and discipline.
The seeds of those traits were sown early, when VK Singh volunteered to be paratrooper and mountaineer to prove his mettle in the army. It was the culmination of a childhood dream, for Mr. Singh had always nursed a desire to join the Army as doctor. His dream came true after passing from Armed Forces Medical College. His father, too, played a big role in instilling a code of strict discipline and focus based on sparkling, timeless values. And his simple upbringing in a humble hamlet - without basic comforts that we tend to take for granted such as electricity – steeled him from within to take on bigger hardships in life.
It was a rare culmination of influences that, together, moulded VK Singh’s personality – instilling in him stellar virtues like courage, resilience, and above all, sensitivity and respect for humanity at large. “The army stint taught me comrade ship. I feel everyone should have a stint in army to understand what it is”, recounts Mr. Singh. The stage was set for bigger things.
The big turning point came in 1971, in the after-math of the war. As VK saw people dying left and right, his own helplessness in saving their lives left a deep impression – one that revisits him to this day. As the euphoria of independence ebbed, and as a new reality set in, what remained were those heart-rending visions from the war. The resolve to do his bit to make lives better only grew stronger.
The big moment came with innovatiocuris. A labor of love of a true humanitarian and visionary, Surgeon R Admiral V.K. Singh’s new-edge venture was born with a lofty purpose: That of blending expertise, innovative models and lean management processes to deliver healthcare at an optimum cost. It was a much needed disruption in the healthcare space. Dr. Singh’s big dream had finally saw light of day.
Like all life-defining journeys, VK’s odyssey was not without its moments of setback. The country’s legal and political landscape, in particular, left a bitter aftertaste in his mouth. From sheer ineptitude to red-tapism to sloth, it has been more of a dealbreaker than a rainmaker.
With every dark raincloud, of course, comes a silver lining. In VK Singh’s life, the rays of happiness have come in the form of his articulate imagination and his eloquent pen (or, as it were, the laptop keyboard) – one that has seen him script several seminal books.
His writing career, too, has a prelude. After he quit his uniform on attaining the exalted position of Surgeon R Admiral - and having received an award from President – VK Singh embarked on a grand mission of travelling to 39 countries, including a stint at the United Nation on deputation. It was during his travels that he decided to write books to pen down his kaleidoscopic experiences.
Not unlike braving odds to get innovatiocuris off the ground, getting his first book published, too, was a challenge that Mr. Singh took on with courage, and triumphed over. VK Singh’s literary oeuvres found warm reception in the USA. He tasted success early, when his first book won an international award. Today, it has a special Indian edition as well. VK’s books primarily deal with healthcare innovation, optimization of healthcare delivery cost and maintaining stringent quality benchmarks. They have been adopted by several business schools in their curriculum.
How does it feel like to look back on a journey with so many diverse milestones? And which are the moments that bring him the greatest joy? Along with Awards received from the President of India (for services rendered in Zambia during hostility with erstwhile Rhodesia and commended by the government of Zambia as well), it is his special relationship with the Army Uniform that makes his chest bulge with pride and satisfaction. In his own words, “I served so long in uniform and attained such a position and publishing my books after superannuation had great sense of happiness and fulfilment.”
And what are your future goals? What are the future milestones that the man wants to cross? Says the Admiral, “I want to provide primary health care in rural India where I was born at optimum cost and use healthcare innovations and technology to do so.”
Life has bestowed upon him precious pearls of wisdom, but if you ask him, the meaning of life itself is best left for rumination in posterity. The highest mantra of his life is to be a good Indian and a responsible citizen. Going by his own yardstick, VK is leaving behind a sparkling legacy. How would he like to be remembered? His answer is as prompt as it is clear : “To do something for country, and for the ‘have-nots’ in healthcare.”
Any message to readers through Voice of Healthcare Platform? “Share your experiences through various knowledge platforms like VOH”, says VK.
Amen to that.
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