Curie-Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Institute: A son’s tribute to father

By Nayeem Raza for,

Ranchi: The proverb – like father, like son – promptly comes to mind when one sees the devotion and sacrifice of Sayeed Ahmed Ansari that went into the construction of this world- class cancer treatment hospital in the Irba area of Jharkhand capital Ranchi, first and only in the entire Eastern Zone of India. His freedom-fighter father Abdur Razzaque Ansari did extraordinary for education and economy of his weaver community and society, but died dreaming of a hospital in the area. Years later, Ansari junior gave a great tribute to the departed soul in the form of the state-of-the-art cancer hospital.

Formally inaugurated on 10th of this month by Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari, the Curie-Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Institute is a remarkable and needed private venture given the fast rise in cancer cases in the country. The disease is now the sixth leading killer with 10 lac new cases being registered every year, which is feared to double in next 30 years. While about 30 lac cancer patients are under treatment, the oncology care is largely being provided by government-run facilities. And there is no well-equipped cancer treatment centre in Eastern Zone.

This is the background which motivated SA Ansari to think of the institute. This is a joint venture of Bangalore-based Health Care Global Enterprises Ltd and SAC Hospital Management & Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. The latter is a firm run by SA Ansari. It has provided consultancy in health care to 10 hospitals in Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.

Located on the Ranchi-Hazaribagh National Highway No.33, the Curie-Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Institute boasts of being equipped with the world-class equipment of Radiation Oncology named Linear accelerator with IMRT and IGRT and having the facilities of surgical oncology, Medical oncology and critical care. The hospital having Linear accelerator with IGRT is first of its kind in Eastern Zone.

Talking to SA Ansari, who is Executive Director of the Cancer Institute, recalls the day when his father died in 1992. Had there been a good hospital in the area he could have been saved. To build a well-equipped hospital in Irba was Ansari senior’s dream. In fact he had made all preparation to build the hospital after having opened several schools and cooperative societies for employment generation for the weavers community in the region. But his vision of hospital could not be accomplished in his life time as he died the day when he met Governor for laying foundation of the hospital. He returned back in the evening from Patna after meeting the Governor and fell ill. Due to lack of medical facilities in the area he could not be provided even the basic medical treatment. He died of minor heart attack.

After his death Ansari brothers (Sayeed Ahmad Ansari and Manzoor Ahmad Ansari) collected all their resources and made it their mission of life to build a good hospital in the area. To make their father’s dream a reality SA Ansari resigned from a coveted post in Central Bank of India. While he took up financial and technical affairs related to the proposed hospital his younger brother Manzoor was assigned fund raising including securing grants from the central government. Thanks to their devotion and hard work the Abdur Razzaque Ansari Memorial Weavers Hospital was standing in Irba in just four years. On 7th July 1996 a high-class secondary care hospital with facilities for cardiac treatment was made functional under the management of Apollo Hospitals Group. SA Ansari is Director Projects of this hospital.
The Ansari brothers did not sit here. They continued working for bringing super specialization in the cardiac department of the hospital. At one time, they had to mortgage their properties for getting the Cath Lab and super specialization in cardiac sciences including cardiothoracic unit in the hospital. They achieved the goal in 2000.

But the spirit SA Ansari imbibed from his father did not allow him to be complacent with the achievements the family had made so far. He had a new dream in his eyes – a cancer hospital in his Irba area. And today the name of his devotion to his dream is Curie-Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Institute. The blood that runs in the veins of SA Ansari has ingredients of hard work, devotion, dedication and selflessness for the cause of the weavers community and society. Certainly the ingredients have come down to him from his father Abdur Razzaque Ansari – the man who spent his whole life for educational and economic uplift of the community and society.

Abdur Razzaque Ansari opened his eyes on 24th January 1917 in grave poverty in a little-known hamlet on the outskirts of Ranchi. Born in the weavers’ family he involved himself in the traditional weaving work at the age of 10. As he saw members of his family with empty bellies he could not demand for his education, but kept his wish to learn burning.

He would daily walk to Ranchi city, about 35 kms from his village of Irba, to sell his products. As he made quality products he would not sit for long in the market and then he would stand near the gate of a school. One day the principal enquired about the reason of visiting the school daily and when he came to know about the condition of the family and the boy’s interest in learning, he allowed him in. Then he moved to a middle school and stood first with distinction in the Middle Board.

Soon he came in contact with Sohail Azimabadi and started his social and public life as he got attached with Urdu Markaz which was started at the instance of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to propagate Urdu culture and nationalist feelings through Urdu literature. Sohail Azimabadi introduced the young Ansari to Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, freedom fighter and leader of the Momin Conference. Abdur Razzaque Ansari became active member of the Momin Conference. At the instance of Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, he got involved in educational and economic uplift of the downtrodden weavers community in the Chotanagpur region.

From 1946 to 1975 Abdur Razzaque Ansari established 17 schools for boys and girls in his and neighboring villages. The first school he opened was in Irba in 1946 after the name of Abdul Qaiyum Ansari, and then about one and half dozen schools in region. He also opened a High School in Ormanjhi so that students did not rush to the city.

After education he took up the task of economic uplift of the weaver community. He established co-operative societies for the community. After some time, all weavers’ villages had a co-operative society. He established about 40 weavers’ cooperative societies. This all helped the community in coming out of the poverty they were in for decades. But he was not content with the achievements.

After getting immense success in education and employment generation programs he moved to health care of the community but the Nature had assigned this area to their sons. The day he met the Governor for laying foundation of a hospital of his dream, was the last day of his life.

After him his sons raised the flag of social and community welfare programs. After making Abdur Razzaque Ansari Memorial Weavers Hospital functional just in four years after his father’s death, SA Ansari sold his land and invested all in the cancer institute. “The institution is dedicated to the community. Now the villagers would not have to go to metros for treatment,” he says.

Besides Abdur Razzaque Ansari Memorial Weavers Hospital and Curie-Abdur Razzaque Ansari Cancer Institute, the Ansari family is also successfully running Florence School of Nursing under the guidance of SAC Hospital Management & Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd.

Giving tribute to his mother, Nafir-Un-Nisa, SA Ansari has provided employment to all widows of the Irba village in the family-run hospitals. Today, the lifestyle of the villagers has been enhanced tremendously with a lot of employment opportunities, educational institutions and business development.
“A value-added hospital with full facility and all modern equipments is in our future plan which would serve people without corporate feeling but only with service motives,” he reveals.

“There is a will, there is a way,” SA Ansari boosts the morale of the community. “The community should not feel depressed and work hard to develop themselves. No community would be downtrodden if it puts its full effort to raise itself. Our support is always with them,” he asserts.

(Irba-native Nayeem Raza is a freelance journalist based in Delhi)