Today Dr Bhan passed away. This short statement is one of the heaviest statements I have ever written.
I can never write a tribute to him. Because his lessons shall never end. They are everlasting. In me. In many.
In 2008 I changed job. From a very safe and comfortable world of vaccines, I treaded into drug development. Drug development for Neglected Tropical Diseases. Non-profit.
I was told that I must work with Department of Biotechnology closely for my work. I knew no one there.
I went. One day. Because I had to. To meet the Secretary of Department of Biotechnology. Dr MK Bhan.
He was a legend. I had never met him before.
I had heard of him. A legend. A very strong administrator. A visionary. A scientific giant. A famous pediatrician. He had discovered a strain of a Rotavirus in India.
He called me in within a few minutes of my appointment.
I entered. His chamber. He looked up. And he smiled. And said “Welcome. I hope you have some time because I want to discuss something with you.”
I was so astounded by his tone of familiarity with someone he had never met before. I began to fumble. In introductions.
He got up from his chair. And led me to a sofa in a corner. And for the next hour or more, he spoke of his vision.
Institutions. India. THSTI. CDSA. I took copious notes. He spoke. “You must meet JP. You need to seat with Rajat. You will have to understand what Shinjini’s thoughts are.”
I was overwhelmed by his vision. By his thoughts. But mostly by his kindness.
The Organization I worked for would fund towards establishing good clinical trials practices. Build capacity. I asked “Sir, in terms of funding.”
He stopped me. “We are not talking of funding. We are talking of thought partnerships. We will do this together. As thought partners. On money, leave that to me. DBT and other government institutions will fund it.”
Many meetings and vision documents later, CDSA was born. Clinical Development Services Agency.
In later part, when I returned to my familiar world of vaccines, I began my work on Rotavaccine and Pneumococcal vaccines. There were times I would go to seek his advice. He never preached. He just planted thoughts. And with a smile would say “Think. You will have to find the solution yourself.”
I will never write an obituary for Dr Bhan.
For as long as I cherish the values that he demonstrated so well. Respect, Humility and Inclusiveness.
Scientists have come. Scientists have departed. Scientists will come. Scientists will go. For scientists are not God. They are humans.
Scientists who come with the traits that Dr Bhan demonstrated in life live forever. In generations that carry forward his teachings. Beyond Science.
Respect. Humility. Inclusiveness.
On this Republic Day, India has lost one of her finest children. But his contribution shall make India proud of her son in the world of Science and humanity.
May Sir Rest In Peace.