Sportspersons have a very deep connection with orthopedic surgeons. This is because they invariably break a bone or two during the course of their sporting pursuits. Dr. M L Saraf has the distinction of being the honorary consultant at the Cricket Club of India. In addition, he was also on the board of the Mumbai Race Club treating sportspersons of their bone injuries.
ML Saraf has served many distinguished offices in his career. He has treated prominent naval officers and their wives during his stint with the Indian Naval base in Mumbai. He has also treated various celebrities and film stars as well. One can go on with the list of luminaries he has treated. However, he prefers people to remember him more as the messiah of the poor.
Having realized the plight of the poor people from the villages surrounding Mumbai, he made up his mind to relieve their pain. He saw that maintaining proper hygiene was the main issue for these villagers. Hence, he emphasized on this aspect during his visits to the villages. He made it absolutely clear to the villagers that the cure to their orthopedic problems lies in their own hands. Cleanliness can keep many a disease such as polio away.
This is the main reason the poor people of the villages adore him and treat him as God. However, M L Saraf has his feet firmly on the ground. He understands that he is a human being in every respect. His main duty is to serve the people of India. This is the main reason he came back to India after completing his Masters in Liverpool. An ordinary person would never have come back at all. He would have taken this opportunity to stay abroad and build a huge fortune and name as well. ML Saraf is made of different stuff.
He is a great orthopedic surgeon. One should also know that ML Saraf is an excellent teacher as well. He believes in sharing knowledge whereby his classes are the most popular among students at Seth G S Medical College. ML Saraf wants his students to become experts and treat all patients with single-minded devotion. He explains that the blessings of the poor people are any day better than the thousands of rupees you might earn treating the rich and the mighty. He does not mean to say that one should not treat the rich at all. After all they too deserve equal attention. This is what Dr. M L Saraf emphasizes. According to him, they deserve equal attention. However, many doctors neglect the poor and give extra attention to the rich and mighty alone. Dr. M L Saraf makes these points very clear in his lectures to the students.
He always says that God is the person who gives life to people but doctors are those who save lives. Hence, the role of a doctor is the most important one. People should keep this point in mind when treating people.
Dr. M L Saraf and orthopaedics are synonymous with each other. Every orthopaedic student in India would definitely have heard the name of M L Saraf. An acknowledged master in the subject, he loves to teach as well. He believes that people may come and go but the science of orthopaedics will remain forever. One can only keep on adding to it. If he is able to inspire people to take up orthopaedics as their major subject, he considers himself to be a successful man in life.
Many people know him as an orthopedic surgeon par excellence. However, very few people have seen the philanthropic side of his personality. When we speak of philanthropy, we are not referring to the charitable donations that philanthropic people make. M L Saraf specializes in a different kind of philanthropy. He is a doctor and he believes in treating people. He uses his expertise in orthopedics to help and support poor people.
He spends at least a day every week in the villages on the outskirts of Mumbai treating poor children and other people as well. The greatest part of his service is that he does this activity free of cost. In fact, he arranges for the medicines and other support equipment such as calipers for the children from his own sources. He treats rich people as well. Dr. Saraf convinces such rich patients to donate generously to help him in these endeavors. Now, who can say No to such a great person. Here is a doctor willing to forgo one day earnings and go to the villages to serve people. If the rich can help him they consider it their privilege.
Not many people in the world have such philanthropic dispositions. Where do you think he developed this streak in life? It can surprise you that he picked up this idea of serving the poor when he was doing his internship at the KEM Hospital in Mumbai. He noted that the poor people had to struggle a lot while travelling in the famous Mumbai local trains to reach the hospital. He understood that for every villager who came for treatment there were at least a dozen more who could not afford the journey. This is because the villagers lose their salary for the day they travel to the hospital. Now, they could not afford to lose their salary even for one day. As it is they were living a hand-to-mouth existence.
M L Saraf saw the sufferings of the people and decided to do something about it. What could an orthopaedic surgeon do? He could go to the village and offer treatment. This is precisely what he decided to do after becoming a full-fledged orthopaedic surgeon. True to his words, he made it a point to travel to these villages regularly with the sole objective of providing the best orthopaedic care to these poor villagers and their children. His aim was to have a polio-free Mumbai. One must say that he has succeeded to a great extent as well.
It is difficult to find people like Dr. M L Saraf in the world today. An orthopaedic surgeon par excellence, he is a philanthropist to the core. In addition, he has the burning ambition of giving back to society. This is evident from the way he imparts knowledge to the students about the finer aspects of paediatric orthopaedics. This subject is very close to his heart. He is a great orator who can speak for hours on this subject. People flock to hear his lectures on this subject. No one ever goes back disappointed after listening to his views on the subject.
As far as accolades and accomplishments are concerned, there are very few equals in his field. Naturally, you feel elated and satisfied when people recognize your efforts and appreciate them. The Government of India has recognized his efforts by bestowing onerous responsibilities on him. He had been chosen to operate on noted luminaries such as Dr. Hamid Karzai, the Premier of Afghanistan. In addition, he has proved his expertise by treating Indian political heads such as former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Shankarrao Chavan. He has also provided valuable inputs to the team that operated on the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Under such circumstances, it should not come as a surprise that the Government chose him to lead the medical team attending to the health of the US President Bill Clinton on his visit to India. That is a great honor in its own right. These are tremendous achievements. In addition, he has served as honorary Medical Officer in various organizations such as the Indian Navy, the Cricket Club of India, The Mumbai Racecourse, etc. He has also performed his role to perfection as external examiner to various medical Universities. He had also served the Indian Medical Council in various capacities.
How do you normally expect such a person to feel? Of course, he feels honored but he has gone on record saying that serving the poor underprivileged children of India gives him more joy and satisfaction than anything else in this world. He understands the pain and trauma these children go through as they contact polio at a very young age. This made him take the vow that he will eradicate polio from India completely. He has been an active campaigner of polio vaccination. If Mumbai has a diminishing number of polio cases today, a lot of credit has to go to M L Saraf. He has played a great part in bringing awareness among the people about the benefits of vaccination.
He has been a great advocate of the use of the Jaipur Foot. He feels that this contraption can give hope to innumerable amputation victims. He has played a great role in refining the design of the Jaipur Foot so that it provides the greatest comfort to the wearer.
His contribution to the field of orthopaedics is unparalleled in Indian history. Under such circumstances, you can call him as the true son of the soil.