Quite unbelievable but it’s true, that in India we have the highest number of children born with severe auditory impairment: on average, 4 newborns in 1,000 births cannot hear. And every year millions of babies get added to our demography. Fortunately, modern biotechnology has come to the rescue in the form of the cochlear implant, an electronic device that bypasses one’s ears and stokes the auditory nerve that sends signals straight to the brain. It works as a permanent cure for hearing disability.
Listen to Padma Shri Dr Milind Kirtane, among the world’s topmost ENT surgeons and whose record of embedding the cochlear device in children is unparalleled:
‘Deafness is as severe a handicap as blindness, perhaps worse. In the words of Helen Keller, â€œBlindness separates people from things, but deafness separates people from people.â€ Children born with profound deafness are often normal in every other aspect. If their hearing is restored, they can achieve everything that normal children can. Cochlear implant is the answer in many such children, but is often out of their reach due to their huge financial implication. By giving them the gift of hearing, Aditya Birla Group (ABG) has transformed their lives, and the lives of their parents and the entire family. ABG’s initiative has helped them join the mainstream of society and become contributing citizens.’
His assistant Dr Nishita Mohandas avers: ‘ABG’s contribution has kindled the spirit of humanity, opening a whole new chapter in their lives. Indeed, ABG is a powerful, compassionate force of good.’
What have we done?
From a world of silence, from the inability to hear, getting one’s cues only from actionsâ€¦ enabling the transition from this state of despair to a world wherein one can now respond any which way to the sound of music, is able to share stories with one another, stories of adventures and misadventures, through speech and sound, is our one big humble CSR endeavour, being fulfilled under the aegis of the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development, chaired by Mrs Rajashree-ji Birla. The unflinching financial support of Essel Mining and Aditya Birla Capital go a long way too. Each cochlear implant has a huge implementation cost coupled with the surgery. The underprivileged can barely afford it.
Parents of over 200 children whom we aided with the cochlear implant surgery and upgrades by Dr Kirtane, had felt cheated in life when their children were born deaf and dumb. Life, they felt, had thrown a lot of curveballs. They could not connect with their children. Today their lives have undergone a 180-degree change for good. It’s touching to see the unmistakable whiff of joy as both parents and children witness the glorious moment of transformation.
Our commitment to the cochlear implant project continues. Furthermore, ABG reaches out to over millions of people through its 24 hospitals, 6,000 medical camps, and other healthcare initiatives. Numbers count a lot, yes. Yet, the gurgle of laughter of these children means much more.
Dr Pragnya Ram
Group Executive President, CSR, Legacy Documentation & Archives
Aditya Birla Group