Major strides in two key fields

Print edition : February 11, 2005

The PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore. -

Coimbatore's charity trusts have ensured that the district has a unique place in the areas of higher education and medical care.

PHILANTHROPY is an integral part of Coimbatore's corporate culture. The city is home to more than 65 trusts set up by industrial groups. Although started as tax shelters, these trusts are now self-sustaining and have set up a number of educational institutions and hospitals.

This spirit of Coimbatore was evident in the conviction of P.S. Govindaswamy Naidu, a pioneering industrialist and philanthropist, that others should share in his good fortune. No wonder PSG's fortunes were divided into five equal parts - four went to his sons and the fifth to a trust named after him. Formed with a corpus of Rs.2 lakhs, the PSG Trust brought to Coimbatore the concept of higher learning, which has grown from strength to strength.

The PSG institutions, which cover the entire gamut of learning, became the rock bed of Coimbatore's industrial development. The most popular course is the PSG College of Technology's sandwich course, which combines classroom education with practical training in an industrial unit. Says R. Krishnamurthy, former president of the Coimbatore District Small Industries Association: "This rapport was beneficial in two ways. The students, by working in the industries, got inspired to start industrial units, and the industry benefited from the projects the students did for them."

The PSG College of Arts and Science, set up in 1947, offers 29 undergraduate and 21 postgraduate courses with 16 of its departments offering MPhil and PhD programmes. In 1999 the National Assessment and Accreditation Council gave it five-star status. It has also got the ISO 2000 certification. The first college in Coimbatore to get autonomous status, in 1978, its experiments with syllabi and courses paid off. It was the first college to make compulsory a certificate course for undergraduate students. It follows a choice-based credit system and a cafeteria system under which 80 per cent is the main course, 10 per cent inter-disciplinary study, 5 per cent personality development and 5 per cent extra-departmental.

The Dr. G.R. Damodaran College of Science, set up in 1988 by the GRD Trust, focusses, among other things, on emerging areas and experimental learning to equip students with skills to face challenges in a rapidly changing world. The NAAC has given the college a five-star rating. The college has tied up with over 10 business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in Bangalore to train students to converse with an American accent. It is the only college operating an FM radio station, which broadcasts 13 hours a day on educational issues.

The GRG Trust, set up by G.R. Govindarajulu, was set up with the objective of furthering women's education; the Trust's 13 institutions have over 13,000 students.

In the ICU at PSG Hospitals in Coimbatore-

Another organisation devoted exclusively to women's development is the Avinasilingam Education Trust. Started in 1952 by Dr. T.S. Avinasilingam, freedom fighter and Education Minister of Madras Presidency, it has grown into a deemed university.

The 50-year-old Coimbatore Institute of Technology (CIT), founded by the V. Rangaswamy Naidu Educational Trust, is a government-aided autonomous institute having 3,000 students. According to its director Dr. S.R.K. Prasad, the institution has one of the best facilities. Backed by large industrial groups such as KCP Ltd, Krishna Industrial Corporation and Jeypore Sugar Company Ltd, the CIT is affiliated to Anna University. According to principal Dr. R. Prabhakar, the CIT's strengths are its strong academic-industrial interaction, a highly qualified faculty and high-quality research and consultancy.

The Amritha Vishwa Vidyapeetham, a deemed university, was set up in 1994. Its disciplines include engineering, medicine, management, pharmacy and humanities. According to corporate relations dean C. Parameswaran, the institute has one of the best facilities in the world, including the supercomputer Param 10000, high-speed wireless link and internally controlled cable network. The institute offers four foreign languages in its engineering and management streams. According to Vice-Chancellor Dr. P. Venkat Rangan, important to the institute are industry collaborations for research, inter-disciplinary research and institution-industry-government partnership. Last year, the institute got 180 chief executive officers from the best global companies to discuss research partnerships. With a thrust on bioinformatics, biomedicine and biotechnology, the institute is the only Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) centre in the country in bio-medical engineering. All its campuses (in Coimbatore, Kochi and Bangalore) are satellite-linked. Several common classes take place through e-lectures.

The Kumaraguru College of Technology, now in its 21st year, has been ranked among the best in the country by the Indian Society for Technical Education. The institution surrenders 25 per cent of management quota seats and takes students from the common entrance examination in order to get the best. It has an excellent placement record - over 300 students who would complete graduation next year are already placed. The college has also earmarked a 1.5-lakh-square-foot built-up area for an STPI (Software Technology Park of India). The college, which has a TIFAC project in textile machinery design, is also setting up a patent information system resource centre.

Catering to the changing needs of industries are the management schools. The PSG Institute of Management assigns to a faculty member and a group of students the job of working out an effective administrative schedule for companies seeking to equip themselves to face international competition. It also helps them outsource human resource and impart soft-skills such as inter-personal communication. To give students some exposure to the ground realities and also try out basic management concepts, the institute has initiated a project to assist self-help groups in managing their finances and marketing their products.

The PSG Institute of Management is doing extremely well with excellent placements. According to its principal R. Nandagopal, the institution is trying for accreditation from the American Management School Association; it is also working out an international partnership with Tolido State University in the United States, under which while the degree will be awarded by the U.S. university the faculty will be drawn from both institutions. Providing a global touch to the international business programme, PSG collaborates with Alliance Francais and the Japanese Consulate to teach students the French and Japanese languages and culture. Says Nandagopal: "The general growth of Coimbatore is feeding the growth of educational institutions."

The Jansons School of Management was founded by T.S. Natarajan three years ago as a residential business school. According to its director Prof. S. Ganesan, the school, which has standards on a par with international institutions, has an excellent rapport with industries. Affiliated to the Bharathiar University, the institute is focussed on the changing needs of Coimbatore's industries with an entrepreneurship growth cell, an executive development centre, an industry interaction cell, a language laboratory and a management research centre. It also offers courses in emerging markets and family business. Jansons, according to Ganesan, provides one of the best facilities - each student is given a laptop, all classrooms have Internet connectivity and examinations are conducted online. Jansons plans to set up two institutions outside India. According to Ganesan, several foreign universities are coming to Coimbatore and the local institutions are looking to international collaborations for value-addition. Placement, he says, has never been better, particularly from financial institutions.

Educational institutions are booming in Coimbatore as the city has a good employment generation potential, with several IT and textile parks likely to come up in the next few years.

THE Lakshmi group has championed the cause of health care in Coimbatore. Set up in 1952, the Kuppuswamy Naidu Charity Trust for Education and Medical Relief is working on a no-profit basis. It is one of the five centres in the country for the detection of, and education on, cancer. Its doctors conduct detection drives in rural areas. The hospital concentrates on preventive medicine. It has a rural centre at Veerapandi, on the outskirts of Coimbatore, with "total family" as the basic concept. Its neo-natal ward is one of its kind in South India.

Another trust hospital with state-of-the-art facilities is the K.G. Hospital, started in 1974 by Dr. K. Bhakthavatsalam. Over 10 per cent of the beds are reserved for patients requiring free treatment. Bhakthavatsalam, a surgeon, is all for preventive medicine. His pet project is performing, free of cost, cataract operations. Under this project, a doctor goes with a team to remote areas, identifies people with cataract, brings them to the hospital, performs the operation (including the lens implant), and provides them with medicines.

The PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research was set up 15 years ago. According to its principal Dr. S. Ramalingam, the hospital has all departments except radiology and oncology. Its clinical services are highly scientific as the stress is on academics. Nearly 40 per cent of the patients here are treated free of charge.

The Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital (KMCH) is a corporate multispeciality hospital that cross-subsidises treatment cost in order to serve the poor. It specialises in the treatment of asthma, interventional cardiology, de-addiction, diabetes, andrology and orthopaedic rehabilitation. With its state-of-the-art technology and super-specialist doctors, the KMCH performs such specialised procedures as stenting, fallopian tube recanalisation, chemoembolisation and laparoscopic and thoracoscopic.

KMCH's Department of Physical Medicine consists of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and orthopaedics; it has a department for artificial limb manufacture. Its comprehensive rehabilitation schemes are affordable and are among the best in southern India. The department specialises in pain management for patients with spinal cord injury, arthritis and osteoporosis.

The 500-bed hospital has more than 40 medical disciplines managed by over 100 highly qualified medical specialists. Over 1,000 in-patients and outpatients are treated every day at the hospital. The hospital's infrastructure includes MRI, CT scanner, angiography with DSA, mammography, laser equipment, video endoscope, operating microscope, laparoscopic equipment, auto analyser and 4-D ultrasound. The KMCH, established on an 18-acre plot, has 10 operation theatres and investigation areas.

KMCH is recognised for organ transplant programmes by the Government of Tamil Nadu. Several kidney transplants and corneal transplants from live donors and cadavers have been done here. KMCH is also recognised by the Tamil Nadu government to undergo heart and lung transplants.

KMCH is actively involved in preventive health programmes. It regularly conducts free medical camps at the hospital and in the rural areas in association with Rotary clubs and other service organisations. Fifty per cent concession is given for the treatment and procedures at the hospital for camp patients. Health education programmes are conducted with the help of KMCH doctors in various schools, colleges and industrial establishments on a regular basis. KMCH also has two satellite centres and a rural health centre at Veeriyampalayam to serve the poor.

Coimbatore is also well-known for its exclusive super-speciality hospitals - Vikram Hospital for ENT; Ganga Hospital for trauma, orthopaedic and micro-vascular surgery; Gem for laparoscopy, Mesonic for paediatrics, Rao Hospital for assisted reproduction and endoscopy; and Eye Foundation and Sankara Eye Clinic for ophthalmology - which offer world-class treatment at affordable rates. A unique feature of these superspeciality hospitals is that the promoter family is wholly involved, either medically or administratively.

Set up in 1978 with 17 beds by Drs. J.G. Shanmuganathan and Kanakavalli Shanmuganathan, Ganga Hospital is today a 150-bed hospital with one of the world's best facilities for trauma-induced reconstruction of open injuries of limbs with bone and soft tissue defects, primary bone grafting in open injuries, interlocking nails (treatment of long bone fractures of limbs), spine surgery (microdiscectomy, removal of tumours, complex spinal fixations, tuberculosis, paediatric spine, deformities due to scoliosis and kyphosis, and so on), spinal trauma, total joint replacement and global reconstruction of open injuries.

According to Dr. S. Rajasekaran, a specialist in spine surgery, trauma and orthopaedic research, the Ganga Hospital's strength is its focus on academics, which keeps doctors updated on the latest developments. Basic research done in the hospital relates, among others, to spinal tuberculosis, removal of primary vertebral tumour and solute transport of lumbar discs. The National Medical Board has recognised the hospital as the only superspeciality training centre in spine injury. Any physical deformity in children is treated free here.

Vikram Hospital, set up in 1972 by Dr. P.G. Visvanathan to treat otological, nasal, laryngeal, head and neck disorders, has state-of-the-art facilities and provides world-class treatment options. According to Dr. Aruna Visvanathan, it is the first hospital in the country to acquire the KTP 532 laser for bloodless and scarless keyhole surgery. The hospital, which is conducting research to develop an indigenous implant for the totally deaf, has the facility to restore hearing for most kinds of deafness. The hospital does single-stage surgery for discharge deafness, sinusitis and breathing problems; plastic surgery of the nose; treatment for snoring caused by oxygen deficiency; and phono-surgery to correct problems in the voice.

The hospital's research wing is working on advanced treatment for cancers, nerve deafness and tinitus (ringing noise in the ear). The hospital treats dizziness with lasers. Most problems, including voice disorders and even snoring are treated with lasers in day-care procedures. Children with snoring and recurrent respiratory infections are treated by a 10-minute adenoidectomy procedure. The hospital has the facility to detect hearing loss in newborns and treat the problem early to prevent speech disability. There is also the facility for plastic surgery for voice change.

The Vikram Hospital set up the Ear Research Institute, the first oral school in South India, to educate both parents and children. As part of this programme, screening camps are conducted regularly around Coimbatore and treatment is provided. Intensive speech rehabilitation is done for children with deafness, who can then join mainstream schools.

GEM Hospital, headed by Dr. C. Palanivelu, is an exclusive gastroenterology hospital. The first of its in kind in Asia, the hospital specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of all diseases affecting the gastrointestinal systems. Its unique infrastructure includes a fully equipped endoscopic suite that has facilities for the diagnosis of upper gastrointestinal disorders, sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. Its therapeutic specialisation includes sceleotherapy, banding, glue injection for varices; foreign body removal; endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography starting from the removal of stone; oesophageal dilation and stenting; and colonoscopy and polypectomy.

Its state-of-the-art technology includes Olympus Exera-EVS 160 Series and fugion video. It is also equipped with the latest machine from Aloka SSD - Prosound 5000 - with a whole body ultrasound scanner with colour Doppler. The hospital's unique facilities include intra-operative probe and laparoscopic ultrasound probe with colour Doppler.

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