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This morning, as usual, as soon as I woke up I started scrolling through my Twitter timeline. I had forgotten today is January 25th and the Padma awards were due to be announced. But Twitter being Twitter was burning with outrage. ‘How can Rajni get a Padma Vibushan before Kamal?’ ‘Ujjwal Nikkam, really?’ And of course Anupam Kher was the most went-after person in this year’s award list.

In the midst of all this ruins, there was one name that stood out for me, at least. I searched for the official list to reconfirm and there it was, fifth in Padma Vibushan list – Dr. Viswanathan Shanta or Dr.V.Shanta. I am not sure how many of you know her but she has been my role model and an inspiration for many many years now.

Dr.Shanta is the Chairperson of the Adyar Cancer Institute. The Adyar Cancer Institute is one which has both state-of-the-art facilities and is also one of the most affordable (the poor are treated at subsidized rates) cancer institute in India.

Dr.Shanta will be 90 this March but still runs the hospital with such zeal and enthusiasm that she had when she joined it more than 60 years ago.  She has won so many awards (including the Magsaysay and the other Padma awards) but for me, the best thing she has done is inspiring so many others by running the organization and helping out so many people fight this deadly disease called cancer. The institute runs mostly on donations and it has survived like this over 60 years, thanks to her. (Trivia – Dr.S.Chandrasekar is her maternal uncle and Dr.CV Raman is her grandfather’s brother.)

Here are a couple of interviews with her, one to read and one to watch.