Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

Lead kindly light

Statistics reveal that over 12 million people in the country are visually handicapped and prevalence of blindness is high in states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In absolute terms, more than two thirds of blind persons are in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

An estimated 456 million people of India’s population of 1.12 billion people require vision correction (spectacles, contact lenses or refractive surgery) to be able to see and function for learning, work and life in general. Twenty six million people are blind or vision impaired due to eye disease. A further 133 million people, including 11 million children, are blind or vision impaired due to simply from lack of an eye examination and an appropriate pair of glasses (uncorrected refractive error).

Vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error causes serious disability and lost opportunities. The direct and indirect cost including lost productivity due to uncorrected refractive error in India has been estimated at $23 billion per year (and I$269 billion globally).

The most common cause for blindness across the country is cataract. Another common cause is Glaucoma. It can occur in persons of any age. The high-risk group includes senior citizens, those with diabetes or other systemic diseases and those with family history of glaucoma.

Besides refractive errors, early detection of several conditions like Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy are the key to prevent permanent visual loss. Achievement of Millennium Development Goals has also been linked to poor vision and poverty and visual impairment are also directly proportional.

Recently the union government associated itself with the global initiative, “Vision 2020: The Right To Sight”, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness and other NGOs to eliminate avoidable blindness by 2020.

As the country observes Prevention of Blindness Week (Apil1 to 7), it should be noted that prevention of blindness requires more than only government intervention. It requires proactive action by medical fraternity and civil society in raising awareness regarding eye ailments and initiating early detection of impairment.

Useful website:,

Madur Vada

Maddur is a sleepy town some 80 km from Bengaluru towards Mysuru. This place’s claim to fame is the vada that one finds here. What is a vada- you ask. Wikipaedia comes handy. “Vada is a common term for many different types of savoury fried snacks from India. Different types of vadas can be described variously as fritters, doughnuts, or dumplings. Alternative names for this food include wada, vade, vadai, wadeh and bara.”

I came across this vada when I was going from Bengaluru to Mysuru to admit my son in Mysore University. That was some 7 years ago. As the train chugged into Maddur station, a battalion of hawkers barged into the compartments, each one selling Maddur Vada. We tried some. It was Ok, not anything out of the world. But the gentleman sitting in front of me sighed and said, they are no longer making the vada like they used to do.

The other day, I read from the Hindu that this is the centenary year of Maddur Vada. “It was in April 1917 that Mddur Vada first appeared in Vegetarian Tiffin Room (VRR) in Maddur’s only railway station. There have been generations of foodies, who have done road trips from Bengaluru and Mysuru to Maddur just to buy Vadas.” It was H.D. Hebbar who first introduced this vada at VRR. His fourth generation descendants are still selling Maddur vadas from a decent looking restaurant called Maddur Tiffanys. So next time you go to Bengaluru or Mysuru try visiting Maddur for its famous Vada.


Itbaron me bhi kuch yun ho gaya milabat

Chutti to dikhti hai, par sukun najar nehi ata

(Even the Sundays have been adulterated. It looks like a holiday, but does not give you the composure, holidays are supposed to provide.)


Read a sign in the Gents’ Toilet:

The future of the country depends on what you are holding now. So take care of it.


More on Toilet humour:

Seen a poster in the Gents’ Toilet: Please stand close. You are holding a pistol, not a rifle.


Mrinal Chatterjee, a journalist turned media academician lives on the valley of Paniohala Hills at Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction. His latest book ‘Point by Point’, a collection of his columns published in Odia daily Khabar and Sambad Kalika has just been released.

He can be contacted at [email protected]

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