Dr. V is known to pace the corridors of the Madurai hospital, gauging the crowd and monitoring the workflow. Now in his 80s, he has started using a walking stick on these excursions. But he still tires occasionally and has to stop abruptly, putting an arm out to the wall for support. On one such occasion, a concerned nurse rushed up to inquire if something was wrong. “Not at all,” said Dr. V. “I’m just holding up the hospital.” The quick-witted response was not a total exaggeration.

Without Dr. V, Aravind simply would not exist. “He is its core and driving force,” says Fred Munson. “He is the one who turned Aravind from a little made-over nursing home into the largest eye care system in the world.” Yet Dr. V knew ...

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