Indian Journal of Surgery, Vol. 65, No. 3, May-June, 2003, pp. 227
Dr Ramniklal K. Gandhi
Tehemton E. Udwadia
Chairman, Editorial Board, Indian Journal of Surgery
Code Number: is03043
Dr Ramniklal K. Gandhi
Seven decades ago a frail child trudged barefoot to his primary school in a remote village Khanpur, where because of poor family finances he was sent to live under the care of his maternal grandfather. After secondary school, the nearest examination centre for the matriculation examination (equivalent to S.S.C.) was in far away Rajkot. The village raised funds for him to appear the first one from his village to do so. By appearing for the matriculation examination Ramniklal Kirchand Gandhi gave his village its moment of glory and then he settled down to work in his family business. Fate decided otherwise, for when the results were announced Ramniklal figured in the top ten (6th) in the University. Jubilation and pride at this wild-card entry's success went way beyond his village to far off Rajkot where the Maharaja decreed that Ramniklal would take up a medical career whose expenses the Maharaja would fully bear. From that time his star was on the ascendant all the way. The education grant was only upto M.B.B.S. for which he studied at the Seth G.S. Medical College and K.E.M. Hospital Bombay. After the examination he returned to start medical practice in his hometown. When the results were announced Ramniklal Gandhi improved on his matriculation performance by standing first in the M.B.B.S. examination. Such brilliance merited higher stature than practice in a remote village and he registered as a postgraduate student in surgery at his alma mater.
There is no facet of surgical endeavour that Dr. Ramniklal K. Gandhi in the subsequent years did not brighten, embellish, adorn be it the establishment of his chosen field of Paediatric Surgery in India and Asia, his contribution to Medical Education in India, to medical literature, to Trauma Care in this country, the president ship and awards of umpteen Associations and Colleges in India, Asia and the World. He was associated with the Indian Journal of Surgery for 24 years first as Editorial Secretary from 1965 till he took over as Editor in 1980, a position he held for nine years.
To write merely of the honours he achieved as a surgeon and academician would do an injustice to Ramnik, the man. To those close to him Ramnik was the epitome of patience, perseverance, razor sharp intellect, persuasive tact in the "art of the possible". On his frail shoulders have risen dozens of men and women to the highest positions in Universities and National Bodies. Ramnik was no saint. If he disapproved or disliked an individual or an organization he made his feelings crystal clear by word and action.
At the peak of his career when he was ready to savour the fruit of years of toil, struggle and endeavour, fate struck a cruel blow. Dr. Gandhi was afflicted with a particularly disabling form of Parkinson's disease. Lesser men would have become recluses and hidden their incapacity in quiet retirement. Not so Ramnik. The more the disease progressed, the more frail he became, the more vigorously he threw himself into his academic, organizational, institutional activities. And amazingly the more crippling his physical affliction, the sharper became his mind so that colleagues from all over would visit No. 2 India House to consult him. To those who knew him and worked with him, these years of uncontrolled involuntary physical movement, and illness were in fact his most glorious years. In the face of overwhelming odds, supported by his devoted, gracious wife Madhu, he traveled the country for meetings and lectures as vigorously as in his physical prime. I had the privilege to read his Citation when he received the Honorary Fellowship of the International College of Surgeons. One sentence sticks in my mind "More significant than any of his positions and awards, Dr. Ramniklal Kirchand Gandhi, as he stands on the podium before us today, inspires us for he exemplifies the triumph of mind over muscle, strength over frailty, courage above all". A few days back Dr. Praful B. Desai and I met and when R.K.G.'s name came up Praful said a sentence which crystalises the feeling of all who knew him "Ramnik redefined the meaning of the word courage".
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