Hi Everyone! My name is Vivek Nimgaonkar, and I just finished my junior year at Penn. I am in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Life Sciences and Management Dual Degree Program, studying Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences and BEPP (Business Econ. And Public Policy) and HCMG (Health Care Management) at Wharton.
This summer, I am going to be following my interests in health care to the city of Madurai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. There, I will be working at Aravind Eye Care Systems. Aravind was founded in 1976 as a small 11-bed operation by a “retired” ophthalmologist determined to install lacking eye care facilities in south India. Nearly forty years later, Aravind is a world leader in eye care, performing some 4 million operations each year. The brilliance of Aravind is its pairing of mission and innovation. With a mission to eliminate needless blindness in India, Aravind serves a relatively low-income patient base by providing the bulk of its services for free or at prices unimaginably low by American standards. The hospital is able to accomplish this by leveraging economies of scale, performing an enormous number of surgeries and procedures so that per-unit fixed costs are driven down. I am really looking forward to getting to know Aravind and learning about how the system has accomplished so much over the past forty years.
But first, I have to get there! I am sitting right now in JFK, having taken a painfully early flight from Pittsburgh (home for me). My Air India flight to Delhi later today with my fellow Aravind interns, Olivia and Busra, is still hours away, but I can already feel the adventure of India approaching. My parents were both born in India, and so I have traveled there to visit family a number of times. And yet far from reducing uncertainty about the journey ahead, I think that my experiences in India have made me acutely aware of how little I really know about the country. With more than a billion people, over 400 languages, and diverse topographies that range from the snow-capped Himalayas to the arid Thar Desert, it is impossible to feel that you know India. I can’t wait to begin to explore Madurai and unravel a few more of India’s many mysteries.