Thursday, 6 August 2020

Against All Odds

Updated: September 18, 2010 12:57 pm

Dr Anil Kumar (36), the first blind acupuncturist of India, has a flourishing practice in Delhi and innumerable fans—even some allopaths, who vouch for his medical acumen.

 When you see him deftly inserting hairpin needles into hands or toes of patients he looks perfectly normal and there is a strong possibility that you may not be able to make out that he is blind since childhood. Meet Anil Kumar (36), the first blind acupuncturist of India, who has a flourishing practice in Delhi and innumerable fans—even some allopaths, who vouch for his medical acumen. He has several distinctions against his name including an entry in Limca Book of Records and a special award from President of India.

                With a degree from Indian Board of Alternative Medicine in acupuncture, Kumar is a living example of how the indomitable human spirit can surmount the most difficult of odds to accomplish their goal. Kumar, needless to say, has achieved what he always aspired for.

                But a decade and half back, he had almost given up on his dream of becoming a doctor after medical colleges told him that it was impossible for a blind man to be an allopath.

                He was quietly pursuing a course on secretarial practices from YMCA when his destiny put him back on track. A chance encounter with an amateur acupuncturist in a chartered bus in 1996 put him on course to becoming the first totally blind medical practioner of New Delhi.

                VP Singh, an employee in Ministry of Communications, part-time acupuncture practitioner and fellow traveler in the chartered bus offered to treat Kumar’s blindness. Since Kumar (then 22), who lost his vision to Meningitis at the age of six had exhausted all other streams of medicine, he saw no harm in trying the hairpin-needles therapy.

                Singh failed to restore his vision but kindled his interest in the alternative therapy which originated in ancient China. “He treated me for 8 to 10 days. Though he could not get me the vision back, but I somehow fell in love with the therapy,” Kumar recollects. Singh guided him to Indian Board of Alternative Medicine in Kolkata which runs a four year degree programme in acupuncture.

                When Kumar got in touch with the Board initially it refused to admit him due to his disability but Kumar’s assurance that he would not seek any special facilities and arrange things on his own, convinced the Board authorities. In 1998, he boarded a train for Kolkata. This was the first time that he embarked on a journey on his own. Till then his mother Hardevi, a housewife, was always at hand to guide him. She always motivated him to walk on an unchartered territory and do what nobody else had done before him.

                In Kolkata, he stayed in a PG hostel. Being visually challenged, he identified meridians on rubber models.

After finishing his four-year degree, he also completed six-month internship with the Board. In June 2002, he returned to Delhi and setup his acupuncture clinic in trans-Yamuna area (East Delhi).

                Sometime around this time, Kamlesh Mudgil (42), a television anchor who was bedridden due to paralysis, was brought to him. Mudgil was in great pain. Dr Anil cured her through acupuncture. Today Mudgil is fit and very happy. Ask her how fit she is and she breaks into dance.

                Dr Anil’s name figured in Limca Book of Records for 2003 as the only visually-challenged acupuncturist in India. In the same year, then Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam honoured him with a national award for being a role model for persons with disabilities.

                Dr Anil has not looked back since then. Today he has a flourishing practice in Greater Kailash (South Delhi) and Yamuna Vihar (East Delhi). Every other day he visits a patient who is bed-ridden and cannot come to his clinic. He has also been visiting Apollo Millennium hospital to treat patients there.

                There are hundreds of paralysis, hyper-tension, knee pain, arthritis, asthma, constipation and epilepsy patients who vow for his competence and skills. Suresh Agarwal, who has been cured of a prostate gland, says Dr Anil did a miracle on him. Dr JS Gambhir, an allopath and director of City—a multi super specialty hospital located in Karol Bagh—says he has started believing in alternative medicine after seeing the work of Dr Anil.

                Every once in a six months, Dr Anil travels to Mohanpur, a village on Ghaziabad-Haridwar road where he organises a free camp for poor villagers. He is still single and looking for a match. “I hope to find a suitable match soon,” is what he mumbles when you question him on his status.

                Son of a retired Railway employee, Kumar has two brothers and two sisters. There are half a dozen of students at any given time training in his clinics. He runs an internship institute approved by the Indian Board of Alternative Medicine. “Around 500 students have interned from my institute till now,” Kumar voices with an assortment of pride and confidence.

                Deepak Parvatiyar, a former journalist-turned-NGO advisor who has got into film making, has shot a 25-minute-long documentary called The Wizard of Needles on Dr Anil Kumar. The documentary was screened in India International Centre (IIC) last month.

                Parvatiyar, a journalist with an experience of over 20 years in print and electronic media, says he was inspired to make the documentary as he was swayed by Anil’s zest for life. “His life story is very inspiring and I am sure the documentary will inspire people never to lose hope and faith.” The documentary was shot over a period of about two years in Delhi, Kolkata and Bijnor.

                The acupuncture points are located along 12 identified channels, medically called meridians, through which vital energy and blood flows in the body. It basically helps increase blood flow in the ailing part of the body gradually treating the disease.

                “In acupuncture, one needs to recognise the points of the nerve endings. If you know your job, it is not a difficult thing to do,” Kumar says matter-of-factly.

By Narendra Kaushik

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