Rama's forte was in trying to understand the nature of human disease. Whilst he himself had not
engaged in research at the present frontiers of genetics and biochemistry, he understood the implications
of all of these developments. The techniques which he used were pathological, epidemiological, and
clinical. They invariably dealt with diseases of great importance to vast numbers of society; and he tried
to relate these with the broadest long-term issues of human health. He never remained satisfied with
a learned paper on a narrow technical theme but was interested in finding solutions to the problems,
and particularly policy prescriptions.
Fortunately, apart from. refereed papers, he had left behind the manuscripts of many of his other
works; this is different from the normal practice where little is available, other than already printed
material. These are particularly important in the case of a scientist of his caliber, who worked on such
a broad canvas. All of this material has been carefully collected over a period of time by his dear wife,
Mrs. Prabha Ramalingaswami, who passed away in 2007. There was also significant material available
with the many distinguished scientists who had worked with Rama.
But most of all, the idea of putting all of this material in the printed form that these volumes
represent, was that of Prof. P N. Tandon. He has painstakingly ensured that the collection is as complete
as possible. He has done a great deal of research in trying to find out where some of the talks were
delivered, and their context; and most important in trying to put together manuscripts, that was largely
not suitable for publication, through careful copy editing and proofreading.
Rama was undoubtedly one of the greatest biomedical scientists of recent times in India. His work
was far more than simple journal publications; they represent the output of a truly remarkable person,
and do provide guidelines for so much more locale-specific work that can contribute to human health.
We all have cause to be grateful to Mrs. Ramalingaswami for her efforts at conserving what would
have been a vanishing trove of valuable written material; to Prof. PN. Tandon for bringing all of this
together, as can be seen in these Volumes; and to the Indian National Science Academy and the
Ranbaxy Foundation for the support they have provided to ensure publication. The Preface by Prof. P N.
Tandon gives an excellent account of the origin of this effort, why it was done, and all who contributed
to making it possible.
Endowed with a brilliant mind, highly cultivated communication skills, a passion for teaching and
research along with deep commitment to public welfare he charted an uncompromising course to
achieve excellence in whatever field he chose to follow. Uninhibited by disciplinary, traditional or
geographical boundaries he blazed new paths be it in the field of medical education, research, public
service or administration. Blessed with an uncanny charm he earned the admiration of all those who
came in contact with him. He led by his own examples and thus created leaders out of his students
and colleagues. He thus became an outstanding ambassador of Indian bio-medical science globally.
Rama was universally recognized for the clarity of his thinking, the eloquence of his presentation
- oral or written, an enviable, skill of presenting his ideas and thoughts succinctly, simply, without
resorting to too-much technical jargon.
There has been a unique quality of Rama's scientific endeavors. These represent a continuum
of cutting edge basic science seamlessly merging into its application resulting in its translation into a
policy or programmed utilized by the policy makers to generate a national programmed like the National
Goitre Control Programmed or Compulsory Iodination of Salt or the National Nutritional Anaemia Control
Programmed. Several of these programmers were adopted by other countries and International
To preserve his scientific contributions for posterity and to use them to enthuse the younger
generation to follow, the Indian National Science Academy, which he presided over and the Ranbaxy
Science Foundation which he Chaired accepted the suggestion, to compile his collected works. The
task was made feasible due to his meticulous habit of conserving all his published papers and the
transcripts of the innumerable talks he delivered. In this effort he was ably helped by his wife Dr. (Mrs.)
Prabha Ramalingaswami, who worked hard after Rama's passing away to catalyze the production of
these works. It is unfortunate that she also did not survive to see this task accomplished. I take this
opportunity to record my grateful thanks for all her help.
Having gained so much from my personal association with Rama, not realizing the enormity of
task, I volunteered to undertake this responsibility. I approached his erstwhile students and later
colleagues to write brief commentaries on the major fields of his contributions - nutrition, iodine
deficiency diseases, liver diseases, anaemia, medical education and medical research etc. I take this
opportunity to thank Professors M.G. Deo, Nabeen Nayak, S.K. Sood, Subimal Roy, N. Kochupillai,
C.S. Pandav, I.C. Verma, and Kusum Verma for their help.
Dr. V. Ramalingaswami Science Foundation chaired by Prof. MGK Menon was a constant source
of support in more than one way.
All efforts have been made to collect all possible published and unpublished papers. Regrettably
there is still some missing. Similarly there are several unpublished papers which could not be
assigned the occasion when these were delivered. Nevertheless these volumes contain extremely
valuable material both scientific and policy related to provide a glimpse of the many faceted role Dr.
Ramalingaswami played so admirably. It will be a real tribute to him if it could enthuse even a few
young biomedical scientists and future policy makers.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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