City’s top neuro surgeon Dr Lokendra Singh in a candid talk with Nagpur Today told that he hailed from a middle class family. His father was a middle level executive in AG’s office. He further said that his father was the first one to migrate from a village to a city. He informed that his grandfather was a farmer, and his parents, like everybody else in those days, had a dream of seeing their son become a Doctor or an Engineer. This was an ultimate dream for them.
Fulfilling dreams of parents
In pursuance to that Dr Lokendra Singh studied hard and passed his XIIth standard. After successfully clearing his Medical Entrance Examinations, he was selected to do his graduation in Medicine (bachelor of Medicine) or MBBS in Jaipur (Rajasthan). He started his MBBS education in the year 1974. He informed that the financial condition of his family was tight. Since his father was only a middle level executive in Accountant General’s office, the salary then was not much to meet the requirements of the family and his education. However, Dr Lokendra Singh lived a frugal life and completed his MBBS. He recalled that the life then was not a bed of roses, but he struggled through the difficult circumstances and times. He was then selected for studies in Masters of General Surgery.
First Job full of woes
After completing his Masters degree in General Surgery, he applied for a job. He was selected as Assistant Civil Surgeon in Rajasthan after clearing the relevant Public Service Selection Examination. He was posted to a dispensary at a very remote village called Banswara in south Rajasthan. This is where he experience real hardship leading to frustration. The entire staff of the dispensary included one doctor (Dr Lokendra Singh), one compounder and one servant.
Hardly did anybody visit the dispensary. He could not practice all that he studied. Leave alone surgery, even normal patients did not come to him. The local villagers chose to go directly to the compounder to get medicines. The villagers chose to go to the compounder probably because the compounder was an older man, while Dr Lokendra Singh was then a very lean and lanky young man. He had a very boyish look, so the local patients preferred to go to the compounder who looked more senior and was posted in the village for a pretty long time. However, this caused a lot of heartburn and frustration.
By then he was married and had a daughter. He then decided that enough is enough. He decided to do something which would help him escape this hell. Dr Lokendra then started appearing in various examinations and entrance tests. However, he could not be selected anywhere. This was because, though he was very good in theoretical part, his practical knowledge was nil.
The Making of an expert
It was then that Dr Lokendra Singh sat back and decided that he needed a specialization which alone could put him in hot demand. Since he had studied some Psychiatry, he decided to pursue his Master’s degree in Neuro-Surgery called the M Ch (Magister Chirurgiae) in Neuro-Surgery. He started his endeavour by appearing for entrance examination all over India. However, here too he was not selected since he did not have any practical experience.
Tryst with destiny
With renewed vigour and enthusiasm, he applied everywhere again. He was called for giving an exam in Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, a medical and research institution located in Chandigarh. After giving his exam, he was awaiting his results. Meanwhile he met a Professor of Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. The professor asked him about why he had come again to appear in the exams, at which Dr Lokendra Singh explained how he did not get any practical experience while he was theoretically sound. At that, the professor told Dr Lokendra Singh that he had a job which was only for two months. He warned him that after that he would be able to help him. Now, Dr Lokendra Singh was in a dilemma. The present job was a permanent Government job, while the job offered was not. In order to get into the job, he would have to resign from this present permanent job. When his friend and other acquaintances reprimanded him for thinking of resigning, his wife told him that she was with him and would live in any condition that he would keep her. His father whom he fondly calls Babuji assured him of all support and encouraged him to resign and go for the new job.
Dr Lokendra Singh then resigned and took up the new job. He was given an extension of another two months and again an extension of two months (in all 6 months). By then he had acquired all the practical skills of surgery. So when the next entrance examination arrived, he applied for and was selected. He was then appointed as Trainee Neuro-Surgeon. He completed his training and worked for two more years in Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.
Destiny brings Dr Lokendra Singh to Nagpur
After completing his two years of service in Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, when he wanted to move to a better hospital, his Professor, who had become his mentor, advised him not to go after money (lucrative or monetary benefits) now, and advised him that he had to learn a lot and that he needed to work under some good doctor who was also a good teacher.
Coincidentally, Dr. G.M. Taori (M.D.FRCP (C)) had written to that professor asking him to send some good neuro-surgeons. So, that Professor asked Dr Lokendra Singh to go to Central India Institute of Medical Sciences and Hospital in Nagpur. When he arrived at Nagpur Railway Station, he had asked some auto rickshaw drivers if they could take him to CIIMS Hospital. However, no Auto rickshaw driver recognized the hospital and went on to tell him that there was no hospital by that name here in Nagpur. When Dr Lokendra Singh told them that he wanted to go to Dr Taori’s CIIMS Hospital, the auto-wallahs immediately told him that he should have told them earlier that he wanted to go to Dokya Cha Dawakhana (Hospital treating mental illness). Soon he was in CIIMS. He came and met Dr Taori. But was greatly disappointed since the man he saw was attired in very simple outfits and was moving in chappals, while he expected a man in full suit. Dr Lokendra Singh assumed that since Dr Taori was a foreign returned doctor who had completed his FRCS, he must be attired accordingly. However, much to his dismay, Dr Taori was attired in a simple shirt, a simple pant and chappals instead of shoes. Dr. Lokendra Singh informed that he had almost decided not to join this institution whose director was attired like that. After speaking to Dr. Lokendra Singh for some time, Dr Taori asked Dr Lokendra Singh if he would like to see the Hospital, and Dr Lokendra Singh who was in two minds to join the institution, and thought to himself what harm was there in having a view of the hospital since he had come from a long distance. Dr Taori, it seems, took Dr Lokendra Singh to the Operation Theatre and told him, as, “This is your area of expertise so have a look”, and left the place. The first thing that Dr Lokendra Singh saw was the register to ascertain how many operations or surgeries were performed. He got impressed at the number of surgeries in his field of expertise, and was he happy. This prompted him to decide to join the hospital. Dr Lokendra Singh then went to Dr Taori and told him about his decision to join the hospital. Dr Taori then told him that he would pay an amount as salary which was lesser that the salary he got as a Trainee Surgeon in Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. However, since he would get to practise his skills in neuro-surgeries, he accepted the salary and joined CIIMS.
Dr Taori had asked Dr Lokendra Singh, what were the things he could do well. Dr Lokendra Singh honestly told him all the things he could do well. Dr Taori then secretly verified the facts from the mentor-Professor from Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh who corroborated what Dr Lokendra had asserted. This pleased Dr Taori since, on earlier occasions, many predecessor doctors had claimed to do many things which Dr Taori learnt that they could not do.
Few touching moments
After finishing the formalities, when Dr Lokendra Singh lifted his suitcase and was about to go out, Dr Taori asked him where he was going, to which Dr Lokendra Singh replied that he would book into some hotel or lodge. At that, Dr Taori told him to remain in the hospital and come to his chamber at 7 pm. He then called some peon named Bandu and asked him to put the suitcase of Dr Lokendra Singh in his car. Anyways, Dr Lokendra Singh had a detailed tour of the hospital and came to the chamber of Dr Taori at 7 pm. Dr Lokendra said that Dr Taori asked him to sit in the front seat with him in an old Fiat car. After moving for some distance, the keys of the Fiat fell down even as the car was on and moving. Dr Lokendra Singh realized that the car was as old as the person driving it. Dr Taori then took Dr Lokendra Singh to his house and told that henceforth it was his house and that he would be living with them. In spite of the pleadings by Dr Lokendra Singh of not intending to trouble Dr Taori and his wife, Dr Taori insisted and gave the room of his son (who was in Wardha doing his MBBS) to him. Dr Lokendra Singh informed that he really enjoyed the three meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner at Dr Taori’s house. When after a few days Dr Lokendra Singh decided not to trouble Mrs Taori and started taking the food himself, Dr Taori was very pleased that the young boy was courteous and feeling at home.
Going abroad and returning back
After working for some years, Dr Lokendra Singh wanted to go abroad and complete some advanced course and get his FRCS in Neuro-Surgery. Dr Lokendra Singh did go and completed his advanced course and got his FRCS in Neuro-Surgery from London. Once he got his FRCS, offers of Consulting Neuro-Surgeon poured in. He received many lucrative job-offers. One fine day, Dr Lokendra Singh received a telephone call from Dr Taori asking him whether he would be returning back to his hospital now as he was highly trained and an FRCS. Dr Taori also told him to let him please know accordingly since he had not appointed anybody till then and the cabin or chamber for Dr Lokendra Singh was still kept vacant. It was then that Dr Lokendra Singh decided that this doctor who had taken care of him like his own son should not be deserted, and he returned back.
Dr Lokendra Singh informed that when he returned back to India, he was the only Neuro-Surgeon in Maharashtra and the fourth FRCS Neuro-Surgeon in India. Dr Lokendra Singh has acquired Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS), Master of Surgery (MS), Magister Chirurgiae (M Ch), Diplomat of National Board (DNB) and finally Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) in Neuro-Surgery from London.
After coming back, Dr Lokendra Singh said that he developed the Operation Theatre and had performed many operations. Dr Lokendra Singh is now invited as Faculty in many National and International Conferences.
His message to the youths
Dr Lokendra Singh advises the youths, “India is on the verge of becoming a world power soon if we play our cards well. Try to build a corruption free society. Corruption is like white ants or termites. Corruption eats our country’s dignity, self-respect, resources and confidence.” According to Dr Lokendra Singh, the youths are capable and strong enough to make our society and our country a corruption free society. He urged the youths to do things which would make our nation proud.
By Samuel Gunasekharan