Govindappa Venkataswamy

Govindappa Venkataswamy

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Category: Science

Govindappa Venkataswamy Profile

  • Name:
  • Govindappa Venkataswamy
  • Born:
  • October 1, 1918
  • Died:
  • July 7, 2006

Govindappa Venkataswamy Biography

Govindappa Venkataswamy was an Indian ophthalmologist known for his significant contributions towards the field of eye care. He was the founder chairman of Aravind Eye Hospitals, the largest provider of eye care in the world, and this renowned ophthalmologist dedicated his whole life to eradicate blindness. Aravind Eye Care System, an NGO founded by him performed over 6.8 million surgeries free or at low cost. He personally performed over 100,000 eye surgeries. For his contributions towards the field of medicine and eye care, government of India honoured him with Padma Shri in 1973. He passed away in Madurai on 7 July 2006.


Govindappa Venkataswamy was born on 1 October 1918 in Vadamalapuram, Tamil Nadu. He was simply called Dr. V. He was the eldest of five children in a farming family. Born into a poor family, he walked long distance to study at school, and learnt his lessons by writing on sand bed of a river. Born into a remote village with no doctors for help, he lost three cousins due to pregnancy-related complications during his early childhood. This prompted him to become a doctor, and serve his village people. Following his graduation in Chemistry from American College, Madurai in 1938, he pursued his medical studies. He completed MBBS from Stanley Medical College in Madras in 1944. He also completed MSc in Ophthalmology in 1951.


He served as a physician with the Indian Army from 1945 to 1948, and was forced to leave the service at the age of 30 after contracting a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis. His fingers twisted out of shape permanently and he was bedridden for two years. When he was barred from training in obstetrics, the field which he chose, he chose ophthalmology. He was appointed head of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Government Madurai Medical College in 1956, a position he held for 20 years. He established a rehabilitation centre for the blind in 1966, and an Ophthalmic Assistants Training program in 1973, and he personally performed more than a thousand eye surgeries. He was honoured with Padma Shri in 1973.


In 1976, at the age of 58, he retired from government service and founded Aravind in Madurai, with co-operation from his extended family, which later became Aravind Eye Hospitals, the largest provider of eye care in the world. On his 100th birth Anniversary on October 1, 2018 Google honoured him with a doodle.

Published: October 01, 2018

Updated: October 01, 2018

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