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Showing 1-10 of 23 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 47 reviews
on October 22, 2011
When Pavithra first produced and brought to the world her acclaimed documentary film, Infinite Vision, I was stunned with the quality and emotional impact that the film brought forth. The depth of scholarship, insight, and pure inspiration that Pavithra and Suchitra have provided in this new book with the same title is stunning. If you pick up this book to read a business case for an extraordinary organization, good for you, but you will miss 90% of what this inspirational work is about. Transformation is about a shift in mindset. To simply take the work and try to duplicate it is bound to be frustrating. The mindset of Dr. V is what the profound lesson is about to me. That mindset created the culture which allowed the current Aravind to emerge. It was not planned and controlled into existence, it emerged from the will of those who envisioned it. What is the core to a culture of innovation? What mindsets are critical to its emergence? This book is inspirational and can provide the foundation for transformative conversations that have the opportunity to create social justice in our world. Embrace this book, internalize it, and create the conversations that can heal our world. This book has that spirit within it. Not many do. I highly recommend Infinite Vision and suggest that it be offered to anyone interested in creating a better world. Can one person make a difference in this world? From what I have seen, the resounding answer is yes. If each of us takes this challenge, there is no doubt in my mind that we can make it happen.
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on November 2, 2011
Don't miss this book, Infinite Vision. It's about one person, "Dr. V.," who revolutionized healthcare for those who cannot see. But it's equally about us, about everyone. It's about our creativity when we don't set limits. And about how it can spread, even globally. It is about our higher potential. <Also see [...] Saybrook University, where we teach about everyday creativity.>

If you ever had cataract surgery, take note. You know what it is like; seeing or not seeing can change everything. In India, some have used a derogatory term for a blind elder, "a mouth without hands." Can you imagine?

Infinite Vision tells how Dr. V helped reverse this tragedy. The book is personal and inspiring, and it also gives operational details and a recipe for success. Dr. V, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy, a surgeon in South India, began, as a post-retirement project, what became the largest eye surgery operation in the world. And where a great many needy people now get eye surgery for free. His is a required case study for Harvard Business School, has been honored by Bill Gates (Award for Global Health) and many others. His Aravind organization has attracted visitors, promoters and collaborators from Seva Foundation to the International Lions Club, from Dr. Brilliant to Ram Dass to Wavy Gravy. Why? Here's a goodhearted doc moving from a clinic for 11 people to a massive medical movement which has brought hope to the 12 million blind people in India. A movement now spreading around the world. And a man who said, whose stated goal in life was, "to give sight for all." Now Aravind, is doing just that! Here is the story.

The recipe: Good person, hard times, a crippling arthritis that changed his career goals, a fundamental desire to help others. Deep spiritual roots, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, in Pondicherry, India, astonishing spiritual leaders. And let it be said, with all respect, that this could also have been another of the World's Great Wisdom Traditions. Here, to be sure, is our True Vision. Our True Creativity.

And an ability to reach out. To involve others. To collaborate, to share and learn--and this includes sharing with groups that might be called "competitors" in other settings. Instead we learn to thrive together. To have a new bottom line of compassion and love, not profit or loss. Yet to find a greater monetary profit in this approach than in that of the so-called competition.

Dr. V never married nor had a family. Yet a fascinating side note is that a full 21, yes twenty-one, of his relatives have now become opthalmologists! And all are helping. Talk about family spirit (and the human spirit).

Best of all--and this is sometimes hard for us Westerners to believe--here is the Gift Economy. This is what can happen when we move from grasping and getting to caring and giving. Those folks weren't fooling in the Bible (or elsewhere) when they said that we who give will receive in turn. (Actually, we may also live longer as well--which is another interesting story! Here is a new world view we need badly today.

As Dr. V. said, "When we grow in spiritual consciousness, we identify with all that is in the world...It is ourselves we are helping....ourselves we are healing."
Is InfiniteVision a religious tract? Not at all; it is a business plan--one set in an engaging personal story. But a business plan with a different bottom line, a different way of operating. A different way of living. No wonder Harvard Business School took note. And so should we.

Do buy this book, by all means! And also give it to your own doctor. I have done so myself. Let me dedicate this review to my ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon, Gary Aguilar, M.D., in San Francisco, who has volunteered his services each summer, in places including Guatemala, Peru, and China, to help people who could never see otherwise. Whose lives have been changed. He too is part of this story. What a gift. What a role model. May each of us, in turn, help this influence to spread.
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on April 7, 2015
A book that touched the very core of my soul! It is riveting story of Dr.V, a man who had a dream of becoming an obstetrician but whose dream was shattered because he was struck with crippling arthritis and was bedridden for two years with unimaginable intense pain.. Dr. V sees this not as an accident, but a calling - he was to become a legendary eye surgeon who lit the eyes of millions in India and around the world. he himself has conducted eye surgeries successfully on over 100,000 people.He started out from a 11 bed facility to build Aravind, the largest eye care facility in India that is based on 3 guiding principles: turn no patient away regardless of whether they can pay or not,give high quality care to all and do not go after government sponsored funds, foundation monies or philantrophy. His vision, his reliance on spirtualism as the corner stone of his success, his awareness for the plight of the poor who need help and his ownership to seek out solutions, indeed makes him unique in history. It is a must reading, it will change you and when it changes you, it will change the world that you see around you.
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on November 16, 2011
In trying to understand the world and make it a better place, I have been seeking to find some basic, universal principles. Infinite Vision seemed a likely place to find those nuggets of wisdom and insights that I was looking for. I was not disappointed. It is a truly epic story grounded in the experiences of Dr. V, his family and the clinic, hospitals, outreach he catalyzed and called Aravind, which has cured and prevented the calamity of blindness in India, and other countries throughout the world, touching the lives of millions. At his core, Dr. V was a very spiritual person who sought to do his own inner work and simultaneously the outer work of tackling one of the major preventable causes of human suffering. His accomplishments seem miraculous, but they also can be seen as embodying some of the basic principles of life and spirit, that when you serve others and the greater good, the Universe will conspire to assist you. There are many lessons to be learned from this story. It is vividly written with a wealth of details clearly illuminating the humanity and complexities of Dr. V and his family and the struggles that they faced inwardly and outwardly.
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on March 10, 2012
In 2009, when I took my aged mother to the Aravind Eye care hospital in Coimbatore for a cataract surgey, I was struck by the kindness, courtesy and professionalism of the staff, right from the front desk clerk to the nurses and doctors. What is more, it didn't cost an arm and a leg to do the initial consultation, the surgery and the post-operative care. As one who is born and brought up in India, I tend to take indifference and lack of courtesy as part of life in our hospitals. I wondered then as to how come this hospital is so different from others I have encountered in India before.
When my mother's surgey was complete, I remember seeing a big photograph of Dr.V in the main hall and also pictures of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Little did I know the true story behind the institution and the vision of its founder. Now that I know the full story from this brilliant book by Pavitra Mehta and Suchitra Shenoy, it makes me proud that we in India, that too in my home state Tamilnadu, could create something so original, innovative and of such high quality. It makes me inspired to strive for better all the time and also specially, for the right, humane reasons.

The authors show that Aravind is an unconventional model, built on the power of integrating innovation with empathy, sound business principles with service and external change through inner change. Though all this sounds esoteric, the extensive data related to Aravind's performance over the past 30 years shows that it has been achieved in reality and what more, it is a model that can also be duplicated independent of the presence of the eminent personalities of the founding team of Aravind. Dr.V, the founding father of Aravind, believed in the following: "to be of service to others is to serve ourselves. Our limitations do not define us. Embedded in the human spirit is a wisdom and strength that can rise to meet our greatest challenges'. This was enough to make him start at age 58 a 11-bed eye clinic in Madurai with no money, no biz plan or safety net and turn it into the largest eye care provider in the world in three decades. It is difficult to enumerate here all the revolutionary things Aravind has pioneered over the years. That is why one must read this book.

The most important take-away from this book for me is the business model of Aravind. The revolutionary departure points in this model are as follows:
Service to the poor as the primary goal
Maximizing service instead of profit
Patients choosing either to pay or not for the service.
The enterprise built on the principle of 'Do the work first and the money will eventually follow'.
Applying the McDonald's and Burger King's service model to attain consistency, reliability, low costs and clear standards
Training their competition in all the key areas for success in the same business!

It is a real challenge to all the well-intentioned people of this world to try and see if this can be the new business model, especially in areas of fundamental needs of humanity. I believe that another enterprise - Narayana Hrdalaya - in Bangalore has applied many of these principles successfully in the realm of heart surgery. Perhaps, this is the way forward for developing nations in the area of healthcare.

Finally, it is also important to understand the spiritual inspiration from Sri Aurobindo in Dr.V's efforts and how he creatively applied them in Aravind. 'Man is a transitional and not a final being' is central to Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. Since Man is a work in progress, Aurobindo emphasised the ecumenical approach of Aspiration, Rejection and Surrender as a means to achieve transformation. Dr.V creatively applied it as follows: He saw Aspiration as a commitment and determination to move in the direction of one's highest purpose - that is curing needless blindness all over the world. He saw Rejection as not allowing mental prejudices to cloud one's thinking and not limiting oneself to small things but aspiring for higher. He saw Surrender as overcoming the pull of the conscious and rational mind and making crucial decisions through the inexpressicable logic of his deeper awareness of the unconscious.

This book is highly inspiring and is important in the way it integrates the ideas of innovation, creativity, courage and spirituality.
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on January 13, 2012
"At first glance, it seemed a venture far too quixotic to be effective. But when intuitive goodness is pitted against unthinkable odds, it stirs the imagination and awakens possibility."

This is the spirit in which Pavithra Mehta approaches her history of the world-famous vision care center her great-uncle founded in South India 35 years ago. It is a truly astonishing story -- one with profound implications for development throughout the Global South.

"Today, the Aravind Eye Care System is the largest and most productive blindness-preention organization on the planet. During the last 35 years, its network of five eye hospitals in South India have treated more than 32 million patients and performed more than 4 million surgeries, the majority either ultrasubsidized or free." Equally important, Aravind also serves as a global resource center for opthalmology, training one out of every seven Indian eye doctors, consulting on management and technical issues with eye hospitals in 69 countries, and operating a state-of-the-art research center.

In 1958, Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy reached the mandatory retirement age of 58 in his government post and retired to Madurai, a celebrated city of one million people in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Inspired by his guru and the deeply felt spiritual values he had long held, he enlisted his brothers and sisters (virtually all of them opthalmologists like him) to help him found an 11-bed eye hospital. Dr. V (as he was widely known) set the fledgling nonprofit hospital on course to provide cataract surgery to all who needed it, regardless of their ability to pay.

He and his family implemented a staggered fee schedule, charging market rates to those with the ability to pay and a heavily subsidized rate to those with limited means, but worked free of charge to those who could pay nothing -- allowing every patient to choose his or her own level of payment. (A future President of India once received free care.) Miraculously, this approach allowed Aravind to earn a profit from its earliest days until the present. Surplus funds permitted Dr. V. to build first one new eye hospital, then three more, and later to fund a manufacturing plant for intraocular lenses and a world-class opthalmological research center.

The quality of Aravind's eye care services and of the lenses produced in its factory match or exceed the standards of the West. In fact, a recent study compared Aravind's surgical outcomes to those of the members of the Royal College of Opthalmologists of the UK -- and "found Aravind's complication rates to be less than those of its British counterparts." Similarly, when one senior Aravind surgeon lectured on corneal ulcers at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, "the faculty adviser told his residents, `The amazing stuff you just saw -- don't try it here. We don't have that kind of expertise.'"

Today, Aravind employs 3,200 persons. Dr. V passed away in 2006 at the age of 88, but his younger brothers and sisters remain involved in Aravind -- although they have passed the reins of management to first one and then a third generation of this truly remarkable family. (Aravind currently counts 21 opthalmologists in Dr. V's family among its staff.)

Aravind's business model is unique in many ways. It's a nonprofit that consistently turns a profit. It subjects the most modest and obscure processes at work in the hospital to exacting statistical analysis -- everything from the manner in which custodians clean the floors to the number of sutures its surgeons employ -- and as a result has attained a level of efficiency that would bring smiles to the faces of the most demanding Japanese plant manager. It shares its management secrets (and they are many) with all comers with an openness and a willingness to train competitors that is simply extraordinary. It pioneered the use of eye care "camps" -- one-day events staged in towns and villages throughout the state of Tamil Nadu to generate large numbers of surgical patients, busing them into the nearest hospital in the Aravind system.

Dr. V's daily journal, assiduously updated throughout his days at Aravind, reflects the breadth and depth of the questions he never stopped asking. For example, "How was Buddha able to organize in those days a religion that millions follow[?] . . . How did the disciples of Christ spread their mission around the world[?]" Yet Dr. V also frequently spoke of his dream to bring efficiency, consistency, and low cost to eye surgery the way McDonald's did to hamburgers. Aravind remains today a pure expression of the vision and the spirit of unending inquiry that he brought to the venture from the outset.

(From [...]
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on December 19, 2011
In my mind, this book succeeds Jim Collins' "Good to Great" as the next leap forward in our thinking on strategy. Collins' book pointed out the importance of values, and this book shows how it is not enough to just talk about values - whole systems can and should be experimented with to bring those values to life. The ideal goes hand-in-hand with the practical.

There is a lot of unclear thinking bandied around in the philanthropic and social entrepreneurship sectors, and this is the first time that I've seen an approach that avoids the false dichotomies, taking instead a unifying perspective and finding value wherever one looks. For instance, utter "McDonalds" and most people pucker their mouth in distaste. And yet, the same McDonalds inspired the intrepid Dr. Venakataswamy to revolutionize eyecare in the developing world by bringing a consistently high standard of service to eye hospitals. Practical action was combined with heady idealism to serve up a dangerously effective cocktail of change, led from within.

There is plenty in this book to satisfy the curious mind about the details, while preserving the essential driving force behind Dr. V's drive - his focus on that which is beyond what can be intellectually grasped. Every few pages, there are snippets from Dr. V's journal which the authors serendipitously discovered deep into their writing process. There is something in those snippets and how they've been offered that shook me up in a powerful way, reminding me of my own abilities and purpose. A book that can shake people up to honor their deepest abilities and creativity is worth its weight in gold. And this one is being sold for less than $15!

In reading about the limitations that Dr. V and his team faced, I believe readers will see a reflection of themselves, for we all come with great limitations, and even greater strength to transform them into blessings. I am deeply grateful that the authors gave of their invaluable time to gift this book to the world.
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on April 15, 2014
One of the most inspirational books I have read in a long time. After watching Pavi Mehta speak about Dr. V and Aravind on a You tube video, I decided to get the book more in hope of learning the "management" philosophy of Aravind Eyecare Hospital system. To my surprise, the book was more spellbinding than the video. The management aspects are also well covered. I recommend the book to anyone running a non-profit (or a for profit) organization - a lot to learn from an organization that refuses to take government grants or to fund raise and that allows their patients to decide what money they want to pay, if any! I plan on re-reading the book on a regular basis.Thank you, Ms. Pavi Mehta (and your co-author) for telling the story so lovingly.
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on December 8, 2011
This is the best description I have ever read of the magic that created the Aravind Eye Care System. It came out of the remarkable clarity of one man-Govinda Venkataswamy-"Dr.V." who saw how to connect treatment of blindness in the rich with the cure of blindness in the poor in an ever growing, self sustaining system. That powerful clarity made it possible for all to understand and support it. It caused many of DR. V's family to dedicate their lives to this effort. Hundreds of doctors, scientists, administrators and people of every diverse talent volunteered their services. With this flowing narrative Pavi Mehta and Suchi Shenoi let us experience Dr. V's vision and make it our own. Richard L. Litwin MD
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on June 20, 2013
A 57 year old retired ophthalmologist in India with crippling arthritis had a vision of making the treatment of needless blindness available to everyone. He started with an 18 bed small hospital which he saw grow to 7 large hospitals in southern India treating millions with high quality eye care regardless of their ability to pay. 2/3 pay nothing, and yet the system collects enough from those who choose to pay to make the entire enterprise self-sustaining without any outside help.

Lessons and methods of providing cheap, high-quality care pioneered there are being used in developing countries around the world.
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