Abu Dhabi based billionaire; Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty was in the city to receive Sir M.V. Award on Saturday on the occasion of Sir M. Visvesvaraya’s 157th birth anniversary. Evidently humbled by the honour, the business magnate could scarcely hold back tears. He speaks to Abilash Mariswamy about healthcare, his contribution and his plans for the future.
1. Are you satisfied with the working of rehabilitation centres in Kerala and Kodagu? Are you planning any further involvement with it?
A: I have donated Rs 4 crore for Kerala and Rs 1 crore for Kodagu to aid flood relief efforts. I do hope rehabilitation centres are doing their job. I haven't asked for on-ground reports yet but I am ready to extend my complete support, to the best of my abilities.
2. According to reports, more than 50% of the population doesn't get quality healthcare. Do you feel that despite being a necessity, healthcare is also becoming a luxury which mostly poor people are not able to afford?
A: Growing countries are likely to face such problems and these need to be addressed immediately. On my part, I am prepared to help rural and urban communities get access to quality health care.
3. What further expansion plans do you have regarding healthcare and your hospitals in India?
A: Yes, I am always looking forward to expand my business in India. We are working on it. In fact, if the government is ready to work on government-run hospitals on a PPP (Public-private partnership) model, I am ready to make it happen.
4. What happened to the Jog Falls project that was undertaken by your venture? Why is there a delay?
A. The idea came to me in 2014 and we won the bid for tenders. However, it has been put on hold for various reasons. While the initial estimation was Rs 250 crore, it is now 450 crore, almost double, which is still okay. we have got the environment and other clearances from the Centre. We are now awaiting the state government's approval.
5. What do you think about Ayushman Bharat scheme?
A: I think it’s one of the best schemes. It will help reach out to over 10 crore poor and vulnerable people, enabling them to get access to healthcare.
6. If you had to describe your life's ambition, what would it be? Also, what are your plans for the people of India?
A: I am blessed to have enough money and good fortune. God has given me everything and it is time for me to give it back to the people. I will contribute to the community in whatever way I can and also help eradicate the non-communicable diseases across India.