Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy

“I owe it to my roots”

Dr Ajay Rane

Dr Ajay Rane

He was living the dream life. Success, fame, wealth and a loving family, Dr. Ajay Rane had it all. But after a decade of his stay in the United Kingdom, he knew something was amiss. He was not comfortable spending his life only to further and fuel his desires. A doctor by profession, he was cognizant of the positive change his skills and experience can bring into other people’s lives. 

“I just could not go on leading a selfish life. I realized it was time for me to give back. 80 per cent of the world’s population does not have the things that most of us enjoy. Access to quality healthcare facilities, being one of them,” says Dr. Ajay Rane, Director of Urogynaecology Department at Townsville Hospital and Professor at James Crook University, Australia. That’s when this doctor, who was then among the youngest consultant doctors in the United Kingdom, headed to rural Australia.

His focus was sharp. He wanted to work towards improving the health of women – both through his practice as well as through research. “Women in rural areas, irrespective of how developed a nation is, have a disadvantage over their counterparts in urban areas. Globally, most of the research and advanced medical facilities are available in big cities,” adds Dr. Rane. Rural Australia offered him a good life as well as an opportunity to bring about change. This was 1996.

In his decade and half long journey in Australia, he has set up a pelvic health unit which is at the forefront of research and treatment in this field and has to his credit, the only sub-specialist Urogynaecology service in the country. His hard work and contribution to the field was recently recognized by the Australian Government, who conferred him with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM).
But he credits the success to his roots. While Dr. Rane was born in United Kingdom to an affluent family, at the age of five, his parents decided to move back to India. Interestingly, the reason which made his father move back was the desire to work and help the people in rural India. They settled in a small village in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. “I used to take a bus to my school which was twenty five kilometers away from home at a place called Bhusawal,” says Dr. Rane. And while he had a comfortable life, his parents made sure that he was not out of touch with the reality and that everybody is not that lucky!

“I saw the inequalities that exist. The enormous amount of trauma that women have to go through and it’s from womb to tomb. I did my undergraduate medical degree in Pune and in the second year chose gynecology as my specialization. Post which I got selected for a research project at Oxford University and then started practice in UK,” says Dr. Rane.

While in Australia, he also had a keen desire to do something in India. That’s when he decided to set up a fistula unit at K G Hospital in Chennai in 1999. “I was associated with the hospital for ten years and today it has its own team and functions perfectly. That was the objective. We wanted to set it up, train local doctors and then let them run the facility. We even sponsored training programmes for these doctors outside India,” adds Dr. Rane.

He however continues to run an orphanage, close to the hospital, which now has 53 children. They are girls who have been abandoned by their families. “I will continue to run this place. This project is close to my heart,” he says. Even though he does not plan to move back to India in the short-term, but he does not rule it out either. The culture, history and values, he feels, are unparalleled in the world. “And India today is a super-power in the making. One of the best places to invest,” he concludes.

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August 2013

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