A single sitting of chemotherapy costs about Rs 90,000, a full-fledged cancer treatment runs into lakhs of rupees. For the poor who want relief from this killer disease it is a double whammy. They either face the prospect of denial of quality care or are deprived of timely care. New India – an initiative by a Bengaluru based couple is looking to change things around for poor cancer patients. They began by donating 50 acres of land for cashless cancer hospital on their daughter’s birthday. Y Maheswar Reddy has more.
In a distinctive and commendable initiative, Bengaluru based leading businessman Mr. Vijay Tata and his wife Mrs. Amrita Tata celebrated their daughter’s birthday in a memorable way for many, especially for the benefit of underprivileged sections in society. They announced the launch of their dream project, “New India” - a self-funded NGO, and gifted Rs 200 crore towards building of cashless cancer care hospital for underprivileged.
Actor Emraan Hashmi graced the occasion with his presence. The unique attribute about NEW INDIA is that it is self-funded and it won’t accept funds from anyone. The couple has been sheltering 40 kids for six years and their dreams of serving society only got bigger and New India was born. “We have provided shelter to 40 kids and looking after their needs, including education. We want to support them to realize their dreams,’’ says Vijay Tata. New India, a nonprofit organization will be completely self-funded by Mr Vijay Tata and Mrs Amrita Tata and will focus on creating hope for the underprivileged. It aims to cater women, children, critical illness and a stop-rape initiative to bring justice to rape victims and help them resurrect their lives. As part of this initiative, the couple has already pledged 50 acres of land worth Rs 100 crores in Attibele-Anekal Road, Bengaluru to the Trust. An additional Rs 100 crores will be used towards construction of the super-specialty cancer care hospital. Here, all underprivileged cancer patients from across India will be treated completely free of charge. This will be the first cashless hospital across India. “We want this facility for helping the patients from economically weaker sections. Patients from creamy layer will not be treated at the cashless cancer hospital,’’ Vijay Tata said.
Inaugurating the NGO, Bollywood actor Mr. Emraan Hashmi said, “I have very closely seen the pain that cancer patients and their family go through. New India’s initiative to create new hope for poor cancer patients is worth appreciating and I am glad that individuals like Mr Vijay Tata and Mrs Amrita Tata are coming forward to take this novel step. Being a parent of child who suffered from cancer, I know the trauma and difficulties of parents when their children are affected with cancer. I am the opinion that parents should have awareness on the care to be taken during the treatment.” Mr. Vijay Tata said, “A small step can transform into a milestone and development is always bottom-up. Our Honorable Prime Minister’s vision on healthcare for all inspired me. Our major thrust today is to work for improving the life of our people who are below the poverty line. The need of the hour is to give proper guidance and free timely treatment to them. New India is a national movement and underprivileged cancer patients across India will be treated free of cost. We are sure that this cashless cancer hospital will be able to alleviate the agony of these people up-to a certain extent at-least on the monetary side. A Nation’s progress lies in its ability to provide health and care to its people. A healthy India is our aim.”
Mrs Amrita Tata said, “To make a difference, one has to be the difference. Many people want to work on these lines but we have been fortunate enough to be able to execute this initiative on my daughter’s birthday. We want to give back to the society and we have already taken the first step. New India wishes to provide a holistic care and solution for cancer patients, which include free treatment and after care. We will also be aggressively working towards other social causes for women and children.”
The entire hospital will be of 150 beds and will be completed in different phases. The initial phase will be ready by December 2018. It will be state of the art infrastructure with renowned oncologists and consultants on board. The entire hospital project will be designed by a UK-based Architect and Engineering firm, BDP, formerly known as Building Design Partnership. It is a firm of architects and engineers employing over 900 staff in the UK and internationally. Entire project from planning to execution will be executed by BDP. This project is funded by Vijay Tata and Amrita Tata, leading entrepreneurs from Bengaluru who are on a mission to make a difference and touch lives through this new age initiative – New India and its underlying movements. This NGO aims to work together with partners and local communities in various parts of the country at the grass root level to understand the key issues and work in best possible way to eradicate or minimize the cause. The NGO is open for collaboration with local NGOs and volunteers across the country to make this a mass movement. Though the organization is self-funded, it seeks the support of fellow Indians to spread the message, support the cause and volunteer in the New India Movement.
What motivated Vijay Tata to come up with this unique project? “I lost my mother to cancer. My sister is a breast cancer survivor. Recently, I had been admitted to hospital for a severe stomach pain. It was tough for doctors at the hospital to diagnose the cause of the stomach pain. One of the doctors said that cancer could be one of the reasons for the severe stomach pain. Being an affluent person, I can afford to have treatment at the hospital but what about the poor people who find it difficult to make both ends meet? I started mulling the idea of having a cashless hospital for the lesser children of God. Initially, there was some resistance from my family but later they extended full support to me,’’ says Vijay Tata with a smile.
Really a unique and meaningful way to celebrate a child’s birthday – bringing smiles to the faces of many more children. Bravo.