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The light goes away, but leaves a lasting glow

Mr. P Gnanadurai Michael
© CBM
(Right) Mr. P Gnanadurai Michael had a long and illustrious association with CBM in South Asia

An institution builder and a champion of people with disabilities, Mr. P Gnanadurai Michael passed away on Monday (November 16, 2015) in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

Mr. P Gnanadurai Michael and his wife ©CBM
Mr. P Gnanadurai Michael and his wife
Mr. P Gnanadurai Michael leaves behind a rich legacy of work with some of the poorest communities, especially in the area of eye care and blindness.

Offering her condolences to the bereaved family, Dr. Sara Varughese, Regional Director of CBM said: “A large number of people and organisations will continue to miss his presence for the contributions he has made towards changing the lives of people with disabilities.”

“We at CBM will miss him greatly, but his legacy and ideas will continue to guide us,” she added.

Late Mr. Michael, 85, had long association with CBM, most notably as its first Regional Representative in South Asia.

A life less ordinary

Born on the Christmas Day of 1930 in Tamil Nadu, Mr. P Gnanadurai Michael grew up in a family of freedom fighters and personalities dedicated to public service. Graduating from the prestigious Madras Christian College, he worked in various roles with the state government.

But his real calling of working in the area of eye care and blindness found a matching assignment when he was invited to be the first Regional Representative for South Asia for CBM International. This marked the beginning of a 26 year journey, during which as many as 150 eye care health centers, many of them associated with educational and medical institutions, were instituted. 

He also played an important role in advocating for Comprehensive Ophthalmic Health Programmes, Community Eye Care Services, Community Based Rehabilitation Services and Integrated Education and Vocational Training. He also championed the evolution of a cadre of workers like Ophthalmic Auxiliaries, Mobility Instructors, Community Based Rehabilitation Workers, Resource Teachers, Vocational Guidance and Placement officers.

He was instrumental in the creation of prestigious training institutes and hospitals like:
  • The Institute of Ophthalmology of Joseph Eye Hospital, Tiruchirapalli
  • The Institute of Rehabilitation Science, Holy Cross College, Tiruchirapalli
  • The Departments of Special Education in Avinashilingm University for women and in College of Education, Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Coimbatore
  • The Mobility Science Department in YMCA College of Physical Education, Chennai
During his illustrious career, late Mr. Michael played an important role in influencing national policies and programmes on blindness. He served on the National Blindness Control Board and was a part of various Project Coordination Committees for the National Plan for Control of Blindness, Government of India.

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