Extraordinary Indians: Doc who charges only Rs 2
Author: A Ganesh NadarPublication:
Date: December 17, 1999URL:
'If you want to serve mankind, go and work among the poorest and most neglected,' Dr Ravindra Koelhe, who has been serving the tribals of Melghat, Maharashtra, for 24 years, tells A Ganesh Nadar.Continuing our series on Extraordinary Indians.Dr Ravindra Koelhe, MD, lives and runs a clinic in Melghat, Maharashtra. His fee is Rs 2 for the first consultation and Rs 1 for the second.Not only is he a doctor and social worker, Dr Koelhe has also taken the government to court for having failed in its duty to protect the Korku tribals of the region.After completing his MBBS, he worked in Melghat for a year-and-a-half only to realise that he needed more expertise to handle the problems of the tribals. So he went back to medical college for an MD in preventive and social medicine."I have now been here for 24 years. In those days there were two public health centres and no roads. Once a week, I used to walk 40 kms from Dharni to Bairagarh to reach my clinic. I used to see at least one tiger every month. Since the last three years I haven't seen a single one," he says remembering his early days as a young doctor.After completing his MBBS from Nagpur University, he decided to work in rural India. An ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave, he was also influenced by Ruskin Bond who wrote, 'If you want to serve mankind, go and work among the poorest and most neglected.'He toured the rural areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and decided that Gadricholi in Maharashtra was the most backward amongst his travels and decided to work there. His mother discouraged him since it was a Naxalite affected area. She told him that Melghat was equally backward and that he should work here instead.Dr Koelhe has been in Melghat since then. It has been 24 years now.