This Festival Season, Give the Gift of Vision


The organizers at the Second Annual Sankara Eye Foundation Gala on Sunday, December 20 at India House, from left: Raghavender Nednur, Shankar Perumalla, Murali Krishnamurthy, CEO (SEF),USA, Rajender Aparasu, and Drs. R.V. and Radha Ramani, founders of the Sankara Eye Care Institute in Coimbatore, India.

By Vanshika Vipin

HOUSTON: On December 20, Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF) held their 2nd annual Gala at India House, Houston. Like last year, the event hit the right notes, with around 150 guests in attendance, creating awareness about the visually impaired and the importance of eyesight for living in today’s world.

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Drs. R.V. and Radha Ramani, founders of the Sankara Eye Care Institute in Coimbatore, India.

Dedicated volunteers that embodied warmth and humility coordinated this significant fundraising event.  The eloquent Dr. Rajender Aparasu made every guest feel welcome and the Chief Guests for the event were honored with flower bouquets on stage. He announced the first music performance of the night on stage by the Swaramadhuri group.  Young girls aged 8 to 13 sang the opening invocation ekdantaya vakratundaya beautifully and enthralled the audience.

The program started with Dr. Nik Nikam. He provided an insightful talk on visually impaired people and the value of eyesight. He explained in simple ways how to describe an object to a visually impaired individual. He made his point to the audience about how important eyes are for living in this world, by stating that 70 percent of information comes through this gateway. After the well-received talk, he humbly urged everyone to donate for this noble cause, making sure that even a small donation of $30, can help sponsor a cataract surgery.

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Murali Krishnamurthy, CEO (SEF), USA

Subsequently, the stage saw another imminent personality of the eye-care foundation, Murali Krishnamurthy, CEO (SEF), USA. An electronics engineer by profession and a lover of Carnatic music, he is the founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Indian light musical group “Pallavi”.  The group has performed in numerous events across California for the past several years. He offered tribute to his uncle for empowering him to start the Eye-care Foundation and also thanked the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, which showed him the focus in his life. Both had an enormous effect on Krishnamurthy. He stated that SEF has carried out 1.3 million free surgeries and has become the largest eye-care provider in the world with a goal to achieve 20/20 vision for the people of India by the year 2020. He thanked the dedicated volunteers and generous donors for these achievements. Before ending his speech, Krishnamurthy sang a soulful song, “Jyot se jyot jalate chalo” which stands for the main theme “give the gift of Vision”.

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Dr. Nik Nikam

The chief guests were then called on stage. The founders of Sankara Eye Foundation, Dr. R. V. Ramani (Founder and CEO), followed by his wife Dr. Radha Ramani (Founder and Hon. Director) spoke to the audience, subsequently.  This power couple started their first clinic in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, which is now the Foundation’s main Headquarters. Dr. Ramani has won the Role Model of India Award in 2000 from the President of India, apart from several other awards. He described the many achievements of SEF and the multiple ways in which people can help be a part of the organization, by volunteering or by sponsoring. He further explained various challenges faced by people with curable blindness and the multitude of services Sankara Eye Foundation offers to patients in rural India. The new and upcoming hospitals will greatly help to reach different parts of the country. In an exclusive interview with IAN, he urged the youth to come forward and take part in this noble cause.

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Houston organizers with the founders.

In the end, a short film was shown to showcase the patient care in Sankara Eye Hospitals across India.  This was a true testament of high-quality and free eye care services with real people sharing their experiences in the Sankara eye-care centers. The audience was moved.

The food was a lip-smacking Hyderabadi banquet, provided by the popular Mayuri Restaurant. Nayak Productions, LLC, sponsored the audio-visual. DJ Rishabh Nayak created an incredible yet subtle environment for sound for singers and speakers.

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Photos: Roy Photography, Dr. Nik Nikam, Damodhar Jammili.

Generous Houstonians helped SEF raise close to 20 thousand dollars in donations and more are coming in daily, for both Hyderabad and Indore hospitals. There is a million dollar matching challenge by an anonymous donor for each of these hospitals.

Raghavender Nednur gave the vote of thanks. He thanked the dedicated and capable volunteers who did a tremendous job in helping put the event together in three weeks, and he also thanked the Houston media for their support.

Some events that SEF Houston plans for future are, Raas-Garba, Dandiya and a superstar celebrity musical concert. It will definitely be worth the wait, as Houstonians have always come forward with their generous hearts to support the right causes.

Become a part, make a difference, and reach Sankara Eye Foundation at