Tribute to a legend
How to cite this article: Vemuri NV, Negi RS. Tribute to a legend. Indian J Musculoskelet Radiol 2021;3(1):1-2.
Padma Shri Prof. Kakarla Subbarao (January 25, 1925–April 16, 2021).
For him “Life is a mission.” His philosophy in his own words, “I pass through this life only once. Let me do the maximum good to the largest number of people.”
Internationally acclaimed and revered by many, Padma Shri Prof. Kakarla Subbarao needs no introduction. An outstanding radiologist, a man who inspired generations of radiologists in India and a father figure to Musculoskeletal Society (MSS), India are some of the very many attributes used to describe him. His visionary approach and farsightedness enamored the highest authorities from Chief Minister Andhra Pradesh to the President of India. They looked at him as an architect of high standard health care in India, comparable worldwide.
Born to an agricultural family in Pedamuttevi a small village in Krishna district, Dr. Subbarao did his initial education in vernacular medium in Andhra Pradesh. He qualified for MBBS in 1950 from Andhra University and moved to America where he did his M.S. in Radiology at New York University of Post Graduate Medical School. Through his sheer hard work and commitment, he got acclaimed in the radiology circles and rose to work as professor of Radiology in New York College of Paediatric Medicine. He also worked as professor of Radiology in Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He returned to India in 1986 at the behest of Former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Late Shri. N. T. Rama Rao and created the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad. His selfless and untiring efforts helped successfully establishing a superspecialty center at the institute.
As a professional giant, there are many firsts to his name. He worked as Director, Vice Chancellor NIMS at Hyderabad. He was President, Indian Radiology and Imaging Association (IRIA) and also worked as the Chairman of the Indian College of Radiology and Imaging (ICRI). He was the founder president of the MSS, India. He was founder of Susruta Society of Radiology, now named as Association of Radiologists of Indian Origin. He authored many books and research articles and contributed immensely to the radiology research and education. He was instrumental in releasing the first textbook of Radiology by the IRIA/ICRI. One of his last authored books, titled “An Atlas of Hand Radiographs in Pediatrics,” was launched at the annual conference of MSS in Pune at the age of 94, testimony to his tireless spirit.
As a teacher par excellence, he was involved with many teaching programs and continuing medical education. As an integral part of the IRIA and later the MSS, India, he continued to inspire budding radiologists, bringing out the best in them. As an advisor to the Andhra government, he initiated landmark and indelible changes in the rural health-care system. The awards and accolades received by him reveal the magnitude of labor, commitment, and visionary approach he maintained throughout his lifetime.
For an illustrious career spanning over five decades, the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association conferred on him the title of “Radiologist of the Millennium” in the year 2000. On January 26, 2000, the Government of India honored Dr. Kakarla Subbarao with “Padma Shri” for his valuable contributions in the field of medicine and his relentless service to humankind. Besides, he was felicitated with “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Andhra Pradesh Chapter of IRIA in March 2001.
His absence has left us a huge void, a difficult reality to come to terms with. This enormous gap can only be filled with the beautiful memories and his teachings which will continue to inspire us through ages.
“A great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains, he gives to others.” – Robert Green.