Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss is an Indian politician from Tamil Nadu. He is currently a member of the Indian parliament (MP) from Dharmapuri holding office since 16 May 2014 and the youth wing president of the Pattali Makkal Katchi. Serving office as the youngest cabinet minister at 35, Anbumani led the ministry for health and family welfare from 2004 to 2009 part of the UPA.
The former union health minister, a hindu nationalist is well known for his crusading efforts demanding the ban of tobacco and bringing about total prohibition of alcohol in the country.
Anbumani was born into an agrarian family on 8 October 1968 at Pondicherry to Dr. S. Ramadoss and Ms. R. Saraswathi. Dr. S. Ramadoss was an agriculturist and a doctor who later on founded the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) a socio-democratic party in the year 1989. Since the father was travelling through every village of Tamil Nadu to mobilize support for his party, the responsibility of taking care of Anbumani fell on his mother, Mrs. Saraswathi Amma. She wanted Anbumani to emerge as a disciplined man than an academic wizard. But Anbumani, the naturally an intelligent kid completed his SSLC from Montfort Boys Higher Secondary School, Yercaud in 1984 and finished his higher secondary in 1986 from St. Ann’s Higher Secondary School, Tindivanam standing first in the district. After his schooling, he chose to pursue Medicinae Baccalaureus and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and entered Madras Medical College, the second oldest college in Asia through an open competition. Intended to take quality healthcare to the rural masses, Anbumani spent a year and a half stint serving as a medical practitioner at Nallalam, a small village near Tindivanam. His educational journey did not stop there. In 2003, Anbumani further did a course on introductory macro-economics from the London School of Economics –LSE.
After a couple of years of practicing medicine in the rural parts of Tamil Nadu, Anbumani returned to Chennai to lead a green non- governmental organisation (NGO) called ‘Pasumai Thayagam’ (Green Motherland) founded in 1995 by Dr. S. Ramadoss. During his tenure, he organized to plant over 25 lakh trees and desilted more than 1000 lakes and built about 50 check dams to conserve water. He led a number of protests to highlight environmental degradation thereby facilitating access for Pasumai Thayagam to ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council), the United Nations’ central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development. He also facilitated for Pasumai Thayagam to get a special consultative status with the United Nations Human Rights Council General Debate in 2013. The organization witnessed incredible recognition worldwide under his exemplary leadership to an extent that Pasumai Thayagam is today accredited to being the lone member from TN to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Anbumani’s participation at global conferences and summits broadened his vision of a green nation. He took part in the Hannover Conference 2000 in Germany, the “World Earth Summit” at Johannesburg, South Africa in September, 2002 and “World Water Forum” at Kyoto, Japan in February, 2003. He also attended the Copenhagen Global Earth Summit 2012 in Denmark.
Little did Anbumani know that politics would be his next big step as his father Dr. S. Ramadoss wished him be trained further in medicine. Having seen his simple father rise against social injustice to the voiceless, he vowed to join his father in his fight for the upliftment of the marginalized. He chose politics as an active career and joined the Pattali Makkal Katchi as its member.
The 2004 polls marked Anbumani’s entry into central politics. The Pattali Makkal Katchi that was then part of the UPA was offered with a ministry and the party selected Anbumani as its candidate of choice to head the health ministry at the centre
On the 22nd of May in 2004, Anbumani was inducted as the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister of India in the cabinet of Shri. Manmohan Singh. The then secretary for Health, a 56 year old veteran bureaucrat along with his team of officials welcomed and ushered him to his seat at office. Sharing his vision to change the health scenario of rural India, Anbumani took into confidence his team to ensure that a poor farmer in rural India receives the same standard of healthcare as the first person of the country, the President of India.
Anbumani’s tenure in the ministry indeed marked a milestone of bold reforms and innovative schemes that drew attention and appreciation from global leaders including the General Secretary of United Nations Mr. Ban Ki Moon who described him as a ‘public health champion’. He set up the public health foundation of India, Department of Health Research (DHR), the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, the Food Safety and Standards Authority and the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library.
He launched the National Program for Control of Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease and Stroke that provided effective promotion, prevention and control strategies to combat the above chronic diseases. At a time when Indian citizens were diagnosed iodine deficient, he made consumption of iodised salt compulsory and introduced the ‘Auto Disposable Syringe’
He headed the Indian delegation to the UN authorized World Health Conference in Geneva in May 2006 that witnessed participation of Health Ministers from over 192 countries across the globe.
As the Union Health Minister, Anbumani established the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in 2005 to provide primary health care to the women and children living in the rural parts of India. The project witnessed worldwide recognition and was lauded as ‘the largest successful health scheme to be implemented anywhere in the world’ by global economist Mr. Geoffrey Sacks.
The NRHM revolutionized rural health care in India thereby helping achieve the health targets set in the millennium development goals (MDG’s). Before NRHM was implemented, India had many vertical public health programs like the National Malaria Eradication Program, National Immunization Program and the National Polio Eradication Program. The NRHM integrated these vertical programs and brought about measurable progress in India’s health indices.
Some path-breaking achievements that took place because of the NRHM was the reduction in the maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) that was 300 per 100,000 deliveries and 68 per 1000 live births respectively. 10 years post implementation of the NRHM, India’s MMR today is almost halved to about a 166 per 100,000 deliveries and the IMR is reduced to 41 per 1000 live births.
Anbumani visited the United States of America in the fall of the year 2005 and was Awe-stuck by the efficiency of 911, the ambulance emergency service at New York. He vowed to see it as his dream for India and thereafter began plans to emulate the service here. He was warned that it would miserably fail if anyone tries attempting any foreign model in India. Giving on heed to the pessimism, Anbumani went on to implement his dream project, the 108 ambulance service across 20 states, including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This service has proven to have saved millions of lives in India of which nearly 24% of the calls were for maternity services and 21% for road accidents.
Anbumani champions against the evils of alcohol and tobacco. Extending his values for the betterment of the society, he implemented the ban on smoking in public places and brought about historic pictorial warning on all tobacco products.
Tobacco is one of the biggest killers of mankind. Anbumani was the first ever Health Minister of India who took on the tobacco lobbies and brought about stringent regulations against the sale of tobacco products. He mandated Pictorial warnings were made to be printed on the packs of cigarettes, beedies and chewable tobacco products. Sale of these items near and within 100 yards of educational institutions and smoking in public places was banned.
He also mandated that warning messages should be projected during smoking scenes in cinemas and television shows. Fighting all odds against the tobacco lobby, Anbumani remained relentless to pursue his vision of a tobacco free India.
During his stint as the Union minister of health and family welfare, Anbumani took stringent controls on both tobacco and alcohol. He strongly opposed alcohol and declared that he would strive hard to eliminate this menace as it was affecting large parts of people of the country. Undeterred of his efforts to take on the liquor lobby, Anbumani travelled unscathed in his journey and made it mandatory to show warning messages while drinking scenes were depicted in movies and television shows. Although alcohol was a state subject as per the constitution of India, Anbumani initiated a National Alcohol Policy for the first time in India and forcefully put forth his arguments at the World Health Organization. He also advocated for the 2nd of October, the birthday of Gandhiji to be observed as World No-Alcohol day.
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee commended his contribution and presented him with a memento of appreciation on March 29, 2014 at the inauguration of Rotary International’s Polio-Free Conclave 2014, in New Delhi.
During his tenure as the union minister of Health and Family Welfare, Anbumani along with TD Dogra the then Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi contributed at large to making AIIMS reach newer heights. 330 acre’s of land was acquired in Jajhar district of Haryana for expansion and it was visualized to be a biggest super speciality training center in the world.
The Moily committee recommendations were implemented. The tunnel between Trauma Center and main AIIMS Hospital was planned and work started by depositing money with METRO Delhi. The one time largest number of faculty positions (160) and staff were created along with a new Academic Center was planned and finances were sanctioned for these positions and facilities, first time since the inception of AIIMS. Trauma Center and Dental Educational and Research Center were made fully functional during his period. The new Surgical Block, Mother and child centre, Hostel Block, Residential block, OPD Block, Urology Centre and other redevelopment activities integrated with the earlier prepared Master plan were rearranged and architectural process was augmented for its implementation, the clearance from Ministry of civil aviation and urban development for construction of 9 story buildings was obtained to facilitate future development of AIIMS
The National Institute of Siddha, Tambaram Sanatorium, Chennai was founded by Anbumani on September 3, 2005. Anbumani Ramadoss decided to name the Institute after Pandithar Iyothee Thasssar, considering the representations from several political parties. Pandithar Iyothee Thasssar a Tamil scholar who was born into a Dalit family is said to have founded the Indian Buddhist Association in 1890.
Central schemes facilitated and implemented for Tamil Nadu
• Rs.15,000 Crores worth of schemes under NRHM
• Super-specialty Fertility and Child welfare centre at the cost of Rs.100 crores in Chennai
• AIIMS like Super-specialty hospital at the cost of Rs.139 crores in Salem
• Initiated AIIMS like institution in Madurai
• Plan for National Institute of Aging at Chennai
• Invested 2000 crores in Jipmer, Pondicherry and converted it into an autonomous institution under JIPMER Puducherry Act 2008
• Plasma centre at the cost of Rs.250 crores in Chennai
• Metro blood bank at the cost of Rs.50 crores in Chennai
• Announcing Rajaji Government Hospitals as regional cancer centre
• Regional cancer centre at Kanchipuram at the cost of Rs.45 crores
• Integrated vaccination manufacturing Park at Chengalpet
• National Highway Emergency Trauma care centers at 10 locations including Madurai, Tambaram, Vellore, and Kanyakumari
Post a successful stint at the central government, Anbumani currently serves as a member of parliament from Dharmapuri constituency in Tamil Nadu which he won with a thumbing victory against the massive money and state muscle power of the ruling party and the equally powerful Dravidian opposition party which lost without winning even a single seat. With an impeccable track record of governance at the centre as Union Health Minister and a crusading force in the state fighting against corruption, liquor menace and freebie culture, Anbumani is all set to make a mark in the upcoming assembly elections for Tamil Nadu in 2015/16 as a chief ministerial candidate. He has been travelling all over Tamil Nadu for the past 5 months raising pertinent issues and fighting the inefficient non-functional government machinery
In credit of his impeccable service to the world of Indian healthcare, He was awarded with the Luther L. Terry Award by the American Cancer Society in 2006. The World Health Organisation honored Anbumani with the WHO Director General’s Special Award for Leadership and the WHO Director General’s Special Award for Tobacco Control in 2007. His efforts to eradicate polio from India brought him laurels and the Rotary international presented him with a Polio Eradication Champion Award in 2007 which was earlier awarded to global leaders like Bill Gates, Bill Clinton George Bush and Kofi Annan. The Rotary club of Madras in 2008 presented Anbumani with a ‘For the sake of Honor’ award
Anbumani an ardent lover of sports captained football, hockey, basket ball and volley ball teams at his school. He was a state level athlete for events that included 100 meters, 200 meters, triple and long jump and excelled in aquatics too. As a member of the NCC, he led the battalion at Monfort Higher Secondary school, Yercaud and was a leader of NSS subsequently at St. Annes Higher secondary school, Tindivanam. He also served as the sports secretary at Madras Medical College while pursuing medicine. He likes to participate in marathons and has successfully completed 10 Km marathons.
His love for badminton is beyond definition. He in fact loves the game as much as he loves his wife. Never would he miss a session of the game while in Chennai. Even as a member of the parliament representing the Dharmapuri constituency, he sweats it out at the indoor stadium in Dharmapuri during his constituency visits. Badminton garnered him a lot of recognition to the extent that in addition to his political positions, Anbumani currently holds the prestige of being the President of the Tamil Nadu Badminton Association.