Professor Belle Monappa Hegde’s single-minded devotion and tenacity have taken him to the coveted position of the Vice Chancellor, of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, a deemed University. He was the Pro Vice Chancellor of the same University for two years before becoming the VC. As the Professor and Head of the Dept. of Medicine at the Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore and later as its Dean for nearly ten years, he endeavoured to build the set-up into one of the best, imparting ethical and professional excellence into teaching methods.
Many a time his methods were considered unconventional but, the thousands of students who have graduated from there stand testimony to the fact that his methods did pay rich dividends. He is on the Governing bodies of many prestigious institutions in India and abroad, contributing his might to uphold the highest ethical and professional standards through them. A Visiting Professor in almost all countries except the South American continent, he also has been considered a considerate and competent examiner for graduate and postgraduate students. He has guided many students for their doctoral thesis in many Universities, in addition to being the Ph.D. examiner in some of those Universities.
He holds the rare distinction of being probably the first examiner for the MRCP (UK) examination of the Royal Colleges of UK. He is probably the only Indian to be the fellow of all the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the British Isles, including Ireland. He had a stint of training at the Harvard University. He was conferred the Hon. Fellowship of the Irish College in Dublin recently given to non-members based purely on academic and research excellence.
Teaching is in his blood. He started teaching at a very young age and is teaching even today, when he finds time. Prof Hegde has been teaching all over the world and has requests pouring in from different quarters. The best teacher awards that he obtained many times speak for themselves. He is acclaimed to be a good communicator and has bagged the Best Communicator Award from the local chapter of the Public Relations Society of India. He attracts students for electives from many countries. His disdain against the hi-tech stuff for diagnosis when the time tested bedside methods and common sense alone would suffice, must have molded hundreds of future doctors’ and their modus operandi.
A permanent Visiting Professor of cardiology in the London University since 1982, he has been recently appointed Affiliate Professor of Human Health at the College of Human Health and Sciences of the University of Northern Colorado. The Chinese and the Japanese Cardiological Societies have invited him to give lectures in their countries on his research work.
Hundreds of research papers in the leading science journals in India, UK, USA, Germany, Kuwait and China and their citation indices stand testimony to his flair for inquiry. Most of his research has been of the refutative variety and not repetitive work. On the editorial board of many Indian journals, the British Postgraduate Medical Journal, The British Journal of Clinical Research and as a referee to the British Medical Journal, he is held in high esteem in research circles. He has been appointed research referee to the Kuwait University. An elected member of the New York Academy of Sciences, he is probably among the few medical scientists to get there. His review articles, both in the medical journals and innumerable lay articles in many languages, bear testimony to his passion for science communication with masses at all levels. His lectures, both medical and lay, run into thousands, both in India and abroad. Whopping eighty odd orations, many of them with Gold Medals, speak volumes about his oratorical skills. His book on The Art of Public Speaking sells like hot cakes for the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan, having a foreword by Nani Palkivala. He has authored seventeen books, both in medicine and other subjects, in English and Kannada.
Prof Hedge regularly communicates with people through AIR, Doordarshan, BBC and Zee TV, London. His regular column “Doctor Speaks” in the Bhavan’s journal is very much appreciated.
His unconventional village development programmes, implemented through his University with financial assistance from philanthropes, are being copied elsewhere. He has schemes for total health care for the masses, which are yet to catch the imagination of our powers-that-be! He has been the local Chairman of the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan and the Aurobindo Society for quarter of a century. He has fought against the mighty drug lobby and the technology lobby to make health care affordable to the masses. His fight against unnecessary drugging has made him very unpopular among some of his conventional colleagues and the drug companies. His paper on the action plan for health for all for the next century is drawing the attention not only of Indians but many other third world countries.
He has been working overtime to spread the Indian Culture in the West as also working to spread Ayurveda, the mother of all medical wisdoms. He has succeeded in helping an NGO to start an Ayurvedic College affiliated to the Thames Valley University in London and an NGO in Japan has offered him four acres of land to start one there. He is also the International advisor to one of the Disaster Management Organizations doing yeomen service all over the world-AMDA – which was nominated for Nobel Prize last year, based in Okayama, Japan. He got them to send a team to Orissa-together with his University doctors- the team did commendable job there during the cyclone. Prof. Hegde believes that the future health for the poor masses depends on combining the best in many systems of medicine, as modern medicine alone is beyond the reach of 80% of the world’s population.
His innovative methods in his own University have resulted in the recent Indo-US and Indo-China Peace Meet – acclaimed to be one of the best in India, where top intellectuals debated to bring the two large democracies closer to India.
For the thousands of patients, over the years, he embodies hope. Allaying fears, giving succor, soothing tensions he is to them the doctor with his hand on the pulse of the common man. Talking their language (he speaks about seven) identifying with their woes, relating to their despairhe heals them, combining his wealth of specialized knowledge in cardiology with compassion and clarity. His healthy respect for the native and complementary systems of medicine inspires in the illiterate and ill a hope of better tidings.
Unsought honours have poured in from far and wide. They are too many to enumerate. Starting from the Gold medal and prize from the Madras University for his MBBS he has bagged the Distinguished Physician of India Award. Many Gold medals and prizes have come his way for papers published, talks delivered, and orations given. The best of them that he keeps on his worktable is the plaque from his old students from all over the world that reads “To the Superb teacher.” Nani Palkhivala calls him the “Cardiologist with a Heart.” Many awards have come from the UK.
Prof. B. M. Hegde
Chilimbi Hill, Bejai Post
Mangalore – 575004