Dr Subhadra Jalali

This interview was conducted by Ms. Rajashree Kallapur and article written by Ms. Bindu Sukeshini

Dr. Subhadra Jalali is the Director of Retina Institute, Newborn Eye Health Alliance, (NEHA) and Director- Quality, at L V Prasad Eye Institute Network. She has been associated with LVPEI since 1991. A brief summary is put forth to inspire women and to unleash their limitless potential.

Dr. Subhadra has been involved in the selfless service of repairing the blind eyes of scores of children & elders for over three decades. A peep into her inspiring life and career tells us that an empathetic heart is carved at an early age based on personal experiences and affirmations which shape our future and prepare us for a higher role. Though she lost her family in a terrorist attack in Kashmir, her bubbly talk and lively attitude do not ever hint of such a tragic past. In fact, she is an epitome of positivity. She says “I have no grief or anger at anybody, satyam shivam sundaram is my mantra. Stay calm, do your work, and spread happiness and love.”

Dr. Subhadra owes her success to her father and husband who have been her allies and a great source of encouragement in her life and career. She recalls how her grandfather impacted her through his philosophical approach to a purpose driven life. She left no stone unturned to accomplish her goals and reach her full potential. Be it working long hours to improve the lives of blind new born babies or to take care of her family and children in the same stride. Her 10-year-old son would tell others that “Mumma is repairing the eye of a baby, do you want the baby to be blind?”

Dr. Subhadra chose the road less travelled and went on to become India’s first woman among retina surgeons for new born babies despite dissuasion from her male counterparts that this role is for men and not women.

She is a compassionate and empathetic Doctor who understands her patients’ deep-rooted anxieties and address them like a friend. When she was a student at PGI, Chandigarh, there was a 10-year-old girl from a poor family, who had lost one eye, and that eye looked white and small and her face looked disfigured because of it. She had been taken to all the famous eye hospitals by her father, however there was no cure for her. When she was brought to Dr. Subhadra she too gave the same prognosis however saying that they could give the girl a cosmetically good appearance by putting in an artificial eye. The artificial eye costs Rs. 100 only and the girl was fitted with the eye. The joy and glow on the girl’s face on seeing her artificial eye was a sight to behold. At that point Dr. Subhadra realized that this girl was traumatized and stigmatized everyday by the society around her and her self-confidence had taken a beating as well due to it. And suddenly just by virtue of looking at the patient holistically and providing a cost effective and simple solution, Dr Subhadra gave a huge bout of self-confidence to the girl. “Simple solutions can bring so much joy. That day I realized my role is not just to give medicine or perform a surgery, but it is to understand the patient as a whole.”

Dr. Subhadra’s response to work-life balance is that it is about weaving everything together. “Family, work and the rest of your life is all one package. Do not try to compartmentalize or try to take from one and give to the other. Mix everything, get everybody together, your boss, your children, your mother-in-law.” She has not missed a single parent teacher meeting as her kids were growing up,

Dr. Subhadra opines that the media and the society keep on instilling the idea that working mothers are bad. She goes on to says that our family especially kids must be exposed to our work so that they do not have a myth that mummy everyday dresses up to go to party or enjoy outside. “Kids must learn to appreciate their mom’s contribution to the family and society”

When asked what she would advise to the women through this interaction, Dr. Subhadra said, “Plan wisely, organize things well and enjoy every role. Multi tasking is in a woman’s blood as we can do a lot of things.“

She also advises women “take charge of your safety yourself rather than depending on others, whether it is keeping a pepper spray handy, learning kung fu, arranging a known driver or requesting the management for an escort/security to drop home if working late at work”.

Love and enjoy what you do, even if you are sitting in a corner and meditating. Be truthful to yourself and the people around you and all will fall into place, is the conclusion to this inspirational interview with Dr. Subhadra Jalali.

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