Wonder Glasses: Making a Difference Through Affordable Eyeglasses
Rahul N. Saxena, Ph.D., New Jersey, USA
An estimated 550 million Indians (Source: Essilor) are afflicted by uncorrected blurry vision — a majority of whom has refractive error caused by the natural process of aging of the human eye-lens — and may need just a pair of eyeglasses.
(Ref: New York Times, May 5th, 2018; The Economist Aug. 4, 2018; BBC World News)
Vision correction through a pair of eyeglasses provides instant and measurable relief and creates goodwill which has a wide-ranging socio-economic impact: from securing an improved livelihood (via an estimated 20-35% higher productivity), skills development and retention, facilitation of education and learning, women’s empowerment to safer roads. Consequently, targeted communities can be more prosperous and engaged with the mainstream.
Case history of VisionSpring (www.visionspring.org) illustrates how it has to date touched the lives of about 2 million Indians (and 4.3M people globally by 2017) by dispensing eyeglasses, after a thorough eye-exam by professionals, at camps in communities and through other channels all over the country, including at the Kumbh Mela, Vaishno Devi Shrine, and Akshardham Temple – all in partnership with the local bodies and organizations.
Clearly, this is an excellent opportunity for Hindu organizations to come together to address this enormous challenge of uncorrected vision and affect lives, livelihood, and self-reliance; the resulting goodwill will be both immediate and measurable and demonstrate to those most vulnerable that they are cared for by their own. Socially aware and responsible institutions with efficient and proven delivery business models, and full transparency and good governance can provide the common platform for different Hindu organizations to channelize their efforts and resources and touch their target communities and get quantifiable and tangible results.
About the presenter…
Dr. Rahul Saxena is an advisor to global firms and startups, including social enterprises. He is a former senior executive who developed and operated global, multi-billion-dollar businesses in telecommunications and technology sectors. He has directed several startups around the world, co-founded one of the largest mobile companies in Europe, Vodafone-Italy, and was head of European operations of Verizon Communications and Managing Director of a large software organization (7K engineers) in India with HQ in Chennai. He has a keen interest in social causes and is very active in the areas of health and education in India. He has also been a guest speaker at management schools in Italy, US and India (MDI, Gurgaon).
He volunteers as an advisor and board director for two not-for-profit organizations focused on vision/health care and education in India: VisionSpring and Women’s Education Project (2014-17). In 2017, Rahul was also appointed to the board of VisionSpring India, where he has been very actively partnering with Indian corporates and with central and state level government agencies to bring vision correction to the masses below-the-poverty line.
Rahul has a Ph.D and an M.Phil in Economics from Columbia University, and an MA and BA (Hons) from St Stephen’s College, Delhi Univ., India. He is fluent in Italian, English and Hindi. He lives and shares his time between New York and New Delhi.