M L Saraf is the Messiah of the Poor

Which is the noblest profession in the world? Different people might have different ideas, but a majority of people will agree that the medical profession is certainly the noblest one of all. Do you need any proof of this fact? If you do so, you need not look beyond Dr. M L Saraf. Who is M L Saraf? We shall look at this doctor’s achievements and his contribution towards treating the underprivileged people in Mumbai over a series of articles.

Born in Kolkata (it was Calcutta during those times) M L Saraf had an exemplary academic record. It can surprise you that this man has never stood second in any examination he appeared. When you see the name of M L Saraf of the candidate list, you can start your count from the second rank. The first rank is a foregone conclusion. This prompted his colleagues to refer to him as a human computer.

After finishing his intermediate examinations, M L Saraf enrolled at the G S Seth Medical College for completing his medicine degree. During that time, he had the opportunity to work at the KEM Hospital in Mumbai as an intern. This one year experience changed his outlook towards life. He saw that people from all over Mumbai and its nearby places come to KEM Hospital for treatment. People conversant with the geography of Mumbai and its local trains will understand the hardships these people have to endure.

M L Saraf made up his mind to do his Masters in Paediatric Orthopaedics. He went to the United Kingdom to complete his Masters at Liverpool. There are no prizes for guessing who topped the University at the end of his course. He won the Robert Norman Prize for his thesis on the subject. No other Indian had won this prize since its inception 60 years ago. That was an achievement by itself. Naturally, he got tremendous offers to settle down in Liverpool and lead a luxurious life. Many people had done so before him and since then as well. M L Saraf returned to India to fulfil his ambition of treating the poor.

The first thing he did on coming back to Mumbai was to enrol at KEM Hospital to offer his services. He started treating the poor people from the villages. He had a great interest in psychology. In fact, a paediatric professional should be an expert in psychology, especially child psychology. Using these skills, he gathered that for every person that visits KEM Hospital for treatment, there are ten more who could not afford the trip. This made him decide to venture out to the villages and help the villagers.

He had to take the permission of the hospital authorities to do so. They gave it to him considering the nobility of the deed. M L Saraf started visiting the villages in and around Mumbai. This endeavour had a dual effect. The crowds to the hospital reduced thereby allowing them to attend to other patients. The villages benefited because of his presence.

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Dr. M L Saraf is an all-rounder – to borrow a cricketing term

Dr. M L Saraf has treated a variety of patients in his life. They include the rich and the powerful and the meek and the poor as well. He has treated many numbers of cricketers and other sportspersons during his stint as an honorary medical doctor on the board of the Cricket Club of India. Hence, it would be right on our part to call him as a true all-rounder. We have borrowed a cricketing term but this description suits him to a T.

There are numerous accounts of patients owing to their good health to his efforts and treatments alone. Many people have literally been crippled in their lives before coming into contact with M L Saraf. It is due to his concerted treatments alone that they are able to walk without any physical support today.

He is a true advocate of the Jaipur Foot as well. The makers of the Jaipur Foot consult him at various levels before designing the contraption for the patient. The comfort level of the patient is more important to him than anything else. Dr. Saraf takes great pleasure in treating children. It must be said that he loves children a lot. This made him take up the subject of pediatric orthopedics at the University of Liverpool while doing his Masters. He won the Norman Roberts prize for his paper on this subject.

He could have easily remained in the UK. In fact, the people had requested him to stay back and help them. However, the thought of treating people in his home country brought Dr. M L Saraf to India. One should thank one’s stars that he made this wise decision. India needs him more than any country today.

The Government of India has also recognized his capabilities. Therefore, they had bestowed on him the honor of leading the medical team that attended to the US President Bill Clinton when he came to Mumbai. That is a great honor for him because the US President always travels with his own team of doctors. The very fact that ML Saraf was the head of the team is proof of his capabilities as an orthopedic surgeon.

Other than Bill Clinton, he has treated a host of celebrities like former Prime Ministers, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr. Manmohan Singh. He has also treated the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shankarrao Chavan. Dilip Kumar, the noted Bollywood actor has been a constant patient of M L Saraf.

Dr. Hamid Karzai has also been one of his renowned patients. When people like the Afghani Premier come to India for treatment, they do so because we have some of the best facilities in the world. Under such circumstances, the Government of India chooses Dr. M L Saraf to operate on him. This shows how much trust the Government has on his capabilities. He cannot afford to let this trust down. In fact, he has not seen failure in his life right from the days of being a simple student until date.

A perfect blend of professionalism and compassion!

Once a man has achieved great heights in profession, he is most likely to lose his roots. Even the most common of man starts detaching himself from his once acquaintances and takes to the high pedestal of ivory towers. But, Dr M.L Saraf has proved to be very different from this stereotype. Felicitated with the greatest of honors in the field of medicine and studies, he still chooses to live among and serve the common men.

A brief biography
Born on 27th August 1947, Dr. Saraf was determined to become a doctor from a very young age. No wonder, he graduated with the first rank in F. Y. Sc from Monstuart Elphinstone College in 1964. Next feather in his cap came with the Best Science Student Award from the same college the very next year (1965).

This was just the beginning of his lifelong accomplishments. After completing MBBS from the University of Bombay, M.L Saraf went to Liverpool to conduct his further research studies. There his thesis was declared the best, and he became the first Indian in 60 years to receive the Norman Roberts Award for excellence.

There was no dearth of opportunities for him in clinics abroad. However, Saraf returned to India with his degree and joined the KEM hospital. At present, he is the most sought after orthopaedic surgeon in India.

Have a look at his credentials:

1.He did prove to be the best in his profession
Dr M.L Saraf reached the pinnacle of his career when asked to head a medical team for attending to Bill Clinton (the former president of USA) while he was on his India visit. He was also instrumental in treating Dr. Manmohan Singh (former Indian PM) and assisted in the surgery of Atal Bihari Vajpayee (also, a former PM of India). It was his exceptional expertise in orthopaedic that contributed to such dignified attainments.

On a special request from the Ministry of External Affairs, Dr. Saraf had also treated Hamid Karzai (former PM of Afghanistan).

2. For Indian Army and Navy, he was the chief medical advisory
M.L Saraf was the chief appointed doctor at the Ashwini Naval Hospital and took care of injured army officials. Very few people choose to work under such challenging conditions in army camps. However, this man fulfilled all duties of being an upright virtuous doctor and human being.

3. A doctor to the poor and needy
Dr. Murarilal Nagarmal Saraf has never denied lending out his helping hand to those who knocked at his doorstep. This includes Ministers and delegates to those living below the poverty level.

Saraf was a member of the Narayana Sewa Sansthan and has been actively involved in setting up medical camps for polio patients. He specializes in the treatment of polio and scoliosis.

Dr. Saraf has offered medical service to more than 1,000 orthopaedic patients free of cost.

Felicitations received for his unparalleled service
Dr. Saraf was chosen as the appropriate recipient of the “Rajasthan Ratna Award” and Mama Hazrat award for excellence in the field of orthopaedic studies and surgery. At present, he is a post-graduate professor and heads the Department of Orthopaedics at Bombay Hospital and Medical Research Centre.

Needless to say, Dr M.L Saraf is a perfect blend of compassion and professionalism!