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Jaipur Foot : The real story[continued]

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Addiction in 15 minutes:

By 1981, D R Mehta IAS, had outgrown Rajasthan. Greater responsibilities beckoned him to Delhi. His doting elder brother Surendra Raj [SR] Mehta however found DR unenthusiastic about the new job. SR found out it was the attachment to BMVSS. "What will become of the project? Could you help me out?" he asked. S R Mehta was a busy man in his own right. A metallurgical engineer who graduated from the University of Wales in Cardiff, he held a senior position in industry. He had little time to spare. But his admiration for and devotion to DR overcame him. "I can go over for 15 minutes every day," he offered. "No more."

"Oh, good!" exclaimed DR clapping his hands. "That'll do. I can go in peace." To keep up his commitment SR vowed to eat his lunch only after he had visited BMVSS at SMS Hospital garages. But he was puzzled as to how 15 minutes a day would help. He found out soon enough.

"Little did I realise what an addiction it was," he says with a chuckle. "25 years on, I can't think of a day without getting a fix at the centre."

The mission runs deep in Mehta family veins. There is yet another brother, Virendra Raj [VR] Mehta. He too is a civil servant who had a decade long spell with the Asian Development Bank at Manila, Philippines. While there, he set up a prosthesis centre along the BMVSS model, using its technology.

That kind of dedicated volunteerism has made BMVSS a highly admired, respected organisation all over the world. Its annual budget is about Rs.7.00 crores, more than half of which comes from India's Ministry of Social Justice.

Faith in assured, continued support drives D R Mehta-now retired from service- to build a large centre for BMVSS at Jaipur's Malaviya Nagar. It is almost ready. It will centralise all activities, including research. Chief amongst that is evaluation of polyurethane in place of rubber, for the foot. They are also collaborating with North Western University, USA to eliminate use of plaster of paris. This is in the end, a big litter quite apart from being a recurring expense. In the new technique, they will work with reusable materials.

Here's a moment: Building workers are scurrying about in the new centre. Masterji and D R Mehta are sitting, fussing over little Yash of Dehra Dun, down from the hills for a refit. He was run over by a van as he played in his lane. He is just over five and as he is constantly growing, will require frequent replacements. D R Mehta, then looks up and says quietly, looking into the distance: "There is always money available for well conceived, well executed, transparently accounted social work. It needs some effort yes, but the money always comes through."

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