The King Of Merit
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“My work and my merit is my answer to all my fears” Yashwant Gade replied.
During first year in MBBS I once had a fight with a classmate. We belonged to two different communities, and the student body politics in medical colleges was not very evolved then. Someone tried to blow up the matter into a caste issue.
That is when I first met Yashwant Gade. He was in final MBBS, and I had seen him often engrossed in his books in the library. Curly hair, thin built, and the proud, fearless attitude of a lion. He was involved in most student activities. He listened to me patiently and immediately called my rival from the hostel, resolved our ego problems and averted what could have become an unwanted, ugly memory.
“Both of you are only medical students in this campus. A medical student cannot afford to lose even a single minute. I don’t want to hear about any fights hereafter from either of you” he warned us.
His warm nature and smiling face encouraged us to become his friends. He had the knack of saying things in a straightforward yet wise way. “Aren’t you scared of speaking your mind?” I asked him once.
“My work and my merit is my answer to all my fears” he replied.
Then we gradually realised that we were in the company of an exceptional hero.
He could not afford travelling to the school by bus, so he had walked to and from his school over five kilometres away. He stood first in the Maharashtra state in the 10th standard board exams.
He did not have money to pay the fees for junior college. The management of Shahu college invited him to join them, waiving off his fees. He did them proud when he topped the 12th standard exams in the state.
He topped all three MBBS exams in the Marathwada University. Then he won the open merit post graduate (MS) seat in Orthopaedics. The postgraduates were underpaid and over-utilised then too, but Dr. Yashwant’s younger brother had become an architect by then. He supported by paying for Dr. Yashwant’s fees.
Dr. Yashwant then naturally topped the MS Orthopaedics exam! More importantly, he appeared for the MPSC with non-medical subjects and topped the state in that exam too, in the same year as he topped the MS!
Although a topper throughout his career, the saddest aspect of merit: that it is useless unless one has money enough to sell it, hit him hard. He had no money to start a surgical set up so essential for his practice. Financial insecurity he could not afford then. He decided to do what was needed: enough stability to support the family.
He joined as a deputy collector.
He was posted in dangerous areas away from civil world, and often walked long distances just to eat his meals. He had decided to give it his best, dreaming of setting examples in administration.
It was not to be. The political interference in his work that tied his hands was too much for his self-respect to tolerate. He resigned and returned after two years, and decided to kickstart a new career.
He started working with a friend Dr. Bipin Miniyar.
In a few years, Dr. Yashwant Gade created his own identity in the Orthopedic world, simultaneously working at a government hospital as a teacher, earning his rank as Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Ortho-Oncology in the Government Cancer Hospital at Aurangabad.
In a society running after glamorous stars and scions of rich business houses, where clothes and cars and watches and houses now make a man, the greatness of a lion who fought all odds and tore through all exams to emerge first in every single one of them will appeal only to those who understand the meaning of the word “Merit”. The ability to defeat fate year after year till it has hailed you with the crown of a winner is not given to everyone.
Had he chosen to work in the developed world, I am sure he’d have a private jet by now!
Some egos stink of merit, some of their position, and most with money stink the worst. But even after winning all these three “Oscars” of life, Dr. Yashwant is as simple and down to earth as he was when I met him as a medical student.
Like respect and love, Merit cannot be bought. I am proud to know this ‘King’ of hard work and merit. He is still deep rooted in his background: maintaining a farm and encouraging the rich cultural traditions of an Indian Farmer.
Dr. Yashwant Gade, you are an outstanding role model for any medical student anywhere in the world. You are also the type of icon India desperately needs!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande