Never be afraid to try and fail … Never fail to try Dr KK Aggarwal, Editor in Chief eMedinewS and IMA News in conversation with Prof. (Dr) Rajeshwar Dayal, Head, Dept. of Pediatrics, SN Medical College, Agra. Prof. (Dr) Rajeshwar Dayal has been honored with Dr BC Roy National Award for the year 2008 under the category of ‘Eminent Medical Teacher’. How does it feel being conferred one of the most prestigious awards in the medical field? I am deeply honored to receive this award and would like to express my gratitude to the Medical Council of India for considering me for the same. It is also a matter of pride and honor for the institution where I have been teaching for the past over 32 years, i.e., SN Medical College, Agra. Tell us about your journey so far. After a brilliant undergraduate and postgraduate medical career during which I bagged 13 gold medals, 9 silver medals, 1 bronze medal and topped the MBBS and MD examination, I went to the UK where I trained in Neonatology at Newcastle Upon Tyne. However, I had hardly stayed there for 8 months when the post of lecturer in Pediatrics at my alma mater, i.e., SN Medical College, Agra, fell vacant and with a desire to serve my homeland I returned to take up this post in June 1984. Since then I have been working in the same department and for the past 13 years I am the Professor and Head of the Dept. I have guided over 50 postgraduate students for their theses and served as an examiner across the country for MD, DCH, PhD and DNB examinations. My training in neonatology paid rich dividends as with personal efforts I could set up a Level II NICU in my department. Through this NICU we are able to offer good neonatal care to our part of the country where neonatal mortality continues to remain high. Besides neonatology, my areas of special interest are Leprosy and Tuberculosis. My research has focused on early diagnosis of Leprosy using sophisticated techniques like in situ PCR and in situ hybridization and evaluation of diagnostic techniques and management protocols of Tuberculosis. Our series on ‘leprosy in children’ is one of the largest in India. Presentation of my research work in National Conferences of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) was appreciated and I won the coveted James Flett award (1985), VB Raju award (1988) and ST Achar award (1993) of the IAP. I served as an elected member of the National Executive Board of IAP four times in 1992, 1993, 2007 & 2011. The IAP awarded it prestigious fellowship (FIAP) to me in 1994. I was elected as the National Vice President of the IAP in 2011. In 1991, in recognition of my work on leprosy, the National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) conferred the prestigious SS Mishra National Award on me. In the same year I was elected as a member of the academy (MNAMS). I was awarded the coveted Fellowship of the National Academy of Medical Sciences (FAMS) in 2008. Delivering the renowned PN Chuttani Oration of the NAMS in 2013 was a memorable event for me. Last month I was elected as a Council Member of the NAMS. I have been active on the international front also. Twice (in 1991 &1993) I have been the recipient of the prestigious Nestle Nutrition Fellowship, awarded by the Nestle Nutrition Institute, Switzerland and underwent training in Neonatology in the UK. I was invited as Visiting Professor in the University of Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2006 and in the University of Philippines, Manila in 2003.Five times in a row I was elected as a Member of the Standing Committee of International Society of Tropical Pediatrics from 2002-2005, 2005-2008, 2008-2011, 2011-2014 and 2014-2017. Seven times consecutively I was elected as a member of Standing Committee of Asian Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, from 2002-2004, 2004-2006, 2006-2008, 2008-2010, 2010-2012, 2012-2014 and 2014-2016. Since last year I have been serving as an elected member of the international council of the Asian Society of Paediatric Research. I have 75 publications to my credit in International and National Journals along with 18 chapters in various textbooks including the reputed ‘Red Book’ of American Academy of Pediatrics. It has been a pleasure to deliver 40 oral presentations (including guest lectures at International Pediatric Association conferences) in International Conferences overseas. Besides this, I have been invited to deliver talks in several CME programs and all IAP National Conferences in the last 10 years. What were the early challenges faced by you in your career? How did you manage to overcome them? Although SN Medical College, Agra is amongst the first 5 medical colleges to have been established in India way back in 1854, yet at the time when I joined this institution in 1984, it was facing a financial crunch as government funds were limited. I therefore, started collaborative research work with the NJILMD (National Jalma Institute for Leprosy and other Mycobacterial diseases, Agra), which is an ICMR institute under the mentorship of its erstwhile Director Dr VM Katoch. This collaborative work has focused on early diagnosis of Leprosy and Tuberculosis and has been presented and published widely. I am happy to say that our series on Leprosy in children today is one of the largest in the country. Tell us about your family. How important has been the role of your family in your journey? I hail from a family of doctors. My father was among the pioneer pediatricians of our country and established the first department of pediatrics in the state of UP at SN Medical College, Agra in the early 60s. He was the recipient of several national and international awards. To name a few, the prestigious BC Roy National award, the Fellowship of Indian Academy of Paediatrics (FIAP), Fellowship of National Academy of Medical Sciences (FAMS). He served as an elected Member of the Standing Committee of International Paediatric Association. He contributed to community work by joining the WHO as a short-term consultant on several occasions. My mother was among the pioneer gynecologists of Agra and retired from SN Medical College, Agra as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She was a very religious lady and a deeply committed mother. My parents had a strong influence on me and were a source of inspiration to me during the formative years of my life. I shall always remain indebted to them for their sacrifice, love and affection. What would be your message to the community? I am a very humble person and during the last 32 years that I have spent in the medical college I have been able to serve the poorest of the poor in the community. Receiving this award gives me an impetus and extra energy to continue with this mission. To the people in the community who are underprivileged and have limited resources and cannot afford the expensive treatment at hi-fi private hospitals, I would like to appeal that they should not lose their faith in government hospitals. Given a chance, what changes would you like to bring about in health policies? The aim of our health policies should be to provide the latest and advanced health care to the masses. I would like to make two recommendations: • The latest and newest vaccines should be available to all the children of our country free of cost. • Tuberculosis continues to be a scourge. The latest guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis should be implemented. What advice would you give to youngsters? Senior members of the medical profession should give advice to the youngsters by setting examples. Empty words never make an impact. Youngsters should not be afraid to try and fail but they should never fail to try!