The streets of Sidhapudur near Gandhipuram in Coimbatore were filled with people who had converged to give their last goodbye and pay respect to their favorite “20 rupees doctor” on Sunday morning.
Even as Coimbatore has turned into a super-specialty medical hub, for thousands of poor people in the city, Dr V Balasubramaniam was their savior.
Running a clinic for the poor, Dr V Balasubramaniam earned the title of ‘Rs 20 Doctor’ because he treated patients of any illness by charging only Rs 20.
He used to set up clinic wherever his employment with the ESIC took him, mainly for the poor, whether it was in Theni, Chennimalai in Erode, and Coimbatore. He first started charging on Rs 2 as this was a price which could be afforded by his patients and he then started increasing it by small amounts.
His charges were from patients only for the upkeep of the clinic and charges for medicines which were also very subsidized when compared to any other hospital. A patient Bhoopathy, who had been visiting him for 10 years, said “We would spend perhaps Rs 30 on medicines, give the doctor Rs 20. We never spent more than Rs 50. And we were always cured of our ailments. If we went back to him again, he wouldn’t take more money from us.”
“God has given me sufficient money to take care of myself. I am helping the sick and the weak recover their health. Let God do the rest of the work,” Dr Balasubramaniam had told CovaiPost last year.
Outside of Dr Balasubramaniam’s clinic, thousands of people lined up on Saturday and on Sunday morning, to light candles and offer prayers before a portrait of the doctor, and to bid farewell to him when his body was brought to the clinic before being taken in procession for cremation. Another patient Arun said, “He was a man of gold. His death is a great loss to us.”
“There wasn’t and there cannot be another god for us like the doctor. So many doctors are concerned with making money, but he was never bothered about that,” said Bhoopathy.