Padmashri Col. DS Vohra was a pioneer of Artificial Limbs in Asia, having founded the Artificial Limb

Centre in Pune in 1948, the first such in Asia. It was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India,

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

                                                             
                                                                   Padmashri Col. DS Vohra - Our Founder

                     

                          Padmashri Colonel Darshan Singh Vohra was a man of great vision and practical wisdom. A tremendously dynamic personality, in one lifetime he founded three institutions of great repute - The Artificial Limb Centre in Pune, India, the first such in Asia, the 4 EME Centre in Nagpur, India where in complete wilderness he was given the task of raising an Army Training Centre of Excellence for 10,000 army men, which he completed in a record time of 9 months - this included even the accommodation for the men, building the Centre and the training establishments that went with it. And ofcourse the internationally reputed Nevedac Prosthetic Centre in Chandigarh, India entirely from his very meagre resources. Having lost his mother when he was barely three days old, he struggled his way to emerge stronger from one personal tragedy after another. He often used to call his life a story of 'Tragedy & Triumph'.

                        
With only his steely determination by his side and nothing else, he scaled different heights. People from all walks of life, from a pauper to a prince, admired the uniqueness of this truly self made man. He played two different innings in his life with equal dedication and success. The first one was of breathtaking dare devilry and amazing dynamism in the Army that left both his junior and senior officers dumbstruck in awe, disbelief and true admiration. The second innings of his life was of dedicated service to humanity with compassion that endeared him to all - some even referred to him as the Mother Teresa of Chandigarh

                        
Padmashri Col. D.S. Vohra started his carrer in the Army - an Engineer in the Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Indian Army. His association with the field of Artificial Limbs satrted when, upon the recommendations of a British team of experts, he underwent extensive training in the manufacture / fitting of artificial limbs and other orthopaedic aids/appliances at Roehampton, London, in 1946-47 and other similar institutions in Europe. He was the first Indian to qualify in this field and is the Founder-Director of the Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India, Artificial Limb Centre at Pune; the first institution of its kind in the Asian region. Here, he was responsible for the rehabilitation of thousands of disabled soldiers from World War I (1914-16), World War II (1939-45) and Indo-Pakistan Wars - besides the disabled soldiers from Burma and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and some civilian amputees.

                        To study their latest methods of production and technique, Colonel Vohra was again sent abroad, on a Refresher Course in 1949-50. He was graded `OUTSTANDING'. To keep himself abreast with the latest technology in this field, he had attended other training programmes in foreign countries including in the USA. After taking premature retirement from the army, in 1966, Colonel Vohra's interest in the cause of the disabled persons, continued. With the encouragement and support by the Govt. of Punjab, he established, NEVEDAC PROSTHETIC CENTRE (NPC) at Daulatsinghwala, near Airport, Chandigarh. The village was renamed as such in the memory of late Lt. General Daulat Singh, GOC-in-C, Western Command, who was killed in a plane crash while on active service in Jammu & Kashmir. The Foundation Stone was laid by His Excellency, Shri M.M. Chaudhury, the then Governor of Punjab on 15 Oct 1973. During its brief existence, the institution has already helped the rehabilitation of over 65300 orthopaedically handicapped persons of all categories. They include both arms and both legs amputees, besides polio-affected children and spinal deformities.

                        The institution is registered as a Charitable organisation where majority of the patients are treated free, besides providing them with free board and lodging. The institution is formally recognised by the Govt. of India, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of Punjab, Govt. of Haryana, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh Administration.

                         Col. Vohra was appointed Hony. Prosthetic Adviser to the Govt. of Punjab, Govt. of Haryana and Chandigarh Administration - besides being a consultant to various organisations and institutions, dealing with the rehabilitation of the disabled persons.

                          Col. Vohra was appointed Prosthetic Adviser to the National Industrial Corporation Ltd., New Delhi, in the initial stages of planing the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation at Kanpur (a Govt. of India enterprise). He had also been one of the Directors on its Board of Officers and made substantial contribution, towards streamlining their production, quality and administrative services.

                           Col. Vohra was the first Indian to be accepted as a Fellow of the British Institute of Surgical Technologists, Member of the Orthopaedic Works (West Germany), Member of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, Copenhagen (Denmark), Fellow of the Artificial Limb Fitters (Great Britain) and Fellow of the Orthotics - Prosthetics Society of India, besides Doctorate in Therapeutic Philosophy, awarded by the World University, Arizona (USA).

                           As President of the Orthotic - Prosthetic Society of India, (1987-1991), he laid great emphasis of the quality of training of personnel for this comparatively, young profession which, in turn, will improve the quality of rehabilitation of the orthopaedically handicapped persons.

                          Col. Vohra had widely travelled within India and abroad, including through sponsorships by Govt. of India, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, as latter's Short-Term Consultant. He had been in constant touch with the developments in Prosthetic - Orthotic and rehabilitation of the handicapped services.

                          Likewise, he had attended several national and international conferences / seminars including in China, Japan, Phillipines, Vienna, Israel and Melbourne (Australia) where he presented scientific papers on the; ``CONCEPT OF ORTHOPAEDIC TECHNIQUES (PROSTHETICS / ORTHOTICS) and REHABILITATION IN THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES'', besides showing Documentary Films.

                          At the invitation and sponsorship of the Rehabilitation International, he attended IX Asia / Pacific Congress of the Rehabilitation International, held at Beijing (China) during Oct 1990.

                          Upon sponsorship by the United States Department of Education and Rehabilitation Services 9NIDRR), the World Rehabilitation Fund, New York, awarded a Fellowship to Col. Vohra for visiting various institutions / universities in the USA, dealing with the research and rehabilitation sciences during Aug 1990. He had also visited similar institutions in West Germany and the USSR.

                           Col. Vohra visited Mongolia as World Health Organisation's Short Term Consultant during Nov. 1990, to assess the existing facilities, regarding the rehabilitation of their orthopaedically handicapped persons and to advise on modernizing these facilities for better services. Later a delegation of their senior experts (an Orthopaedic Surgeon and an Engineer) - besides a couple of their amputees visited this institution at Daulatsinghwala - Chandigarh in Feb. 1991, where the latter were fitted with artificial limbs and also imparted to their technicians.

                           Col. Vohra visited Mongolia again on an assignment from the Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO-ITALY) for Short Term Consultancy in July 1993, to help in the establishment of Prosthetic - Orthotic services in that country and upgradation of the National Orthopaedic Workshop in Ullanbattar (Mongolia). His emphasis of rehabilitation in this country was rural based, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR).

                           Col. Vohra had a similar assignment (ST Consultant) through WHO, SEARO in Indonesia during Dec 1991 - Jan 1992.

                            Upon the request received by the WHO, SEARO, from the Army authorities in Sri Lanka, Col. Vohra visited their country in Sept 1996 as S.T. Consultant to assess their requirements of disabled persons (mostly war casualities), with a view to their rehabilitation and also exploring the possibility of setting up a Prosthetic - Orthotic Workshop. He also visited MALE (Maldives) on his way back to India.

                            Col. Vohra attended a Workshop of the SAARC countries on `Rehabilitation Techniques', organised by the Ministry of Welfare, Govt. of India, at Secunderabad from 28 Nov - 02 Dec 1994. He also read a Paper on ``Rehabilitation of Arm Amputees in Developing Countries''.

                             He was also invited by the Ministry of Welfare, Govt. of India, to attend the International Workshop on; ``Indigenous Production and Distribution of Assistive Devices'', organised under the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Agreement from 5th to 6th Sept. 1995. During the seminar, he gave a talk on 'Myo-electric Arms - the Indian Scenario', which was highly appreciated.

                            

Col. Vohra was also invited by the Govt. of Oman to attend the ``Combined Pan-Arab/GCC Orthopaedic Congress'' held at Muscat from 11th to 14th Sept. 1995, where he read a paper on; ``Prosthetics - Orthotics, with Appropriate Technology in the Developing Countries''. He also visited Dubai on his way back to India.

                            Besides achievements in the field of Prosthetics - Orthotics, Col. Vohra had also developed a MECHANICAL HAND, where all fingers move voluntarily through a shoulder appendage. An Electronic Hand (Switch Control System) had also been developed by the institution. This hand also has pronation movements. Except for a couple of countries in the western world, these arms are not produced anywhere else. These are indigenous innovations and manufactured entirely with the locally available materials and technology. These hands are very popular amongst arm amputees - specially the bilateral cases. For these, patients have come even from abroad including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Middle East.

                           Punjab and its neighbouring States in Northern India have a large number of arm amputees, resulting from mechanised farming and thresher accidents. Our Mechanical and Electronic Hands have greatly helped their rehabilitation.

                            A battery driven wheel chair had also been developed by this institution. This is comparatively much cheaper than those, produced in the Western / Developed countries.

                            In addition to the rehabilitation of the disabled persons, Col. Vohra had also accepted another challenge of rehabilitating the hard core criminals sentenced to long terms in the Punjab Jails, for murders etc. The results have been very encouraging, indeed, in reforming them as useful and law abiding citizens.

                           Similarly, as Hony. General Secretary of the All India War Widows' Association (North Zone), he had helped the resettlement of War Widows, including remarriages of about forty war widows, to enable them to `Live Again', with smiles.

                                                           AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS

                       In recognition of Col. Vohra's services in the cause of the disabled persons and the suffering humanity, he was given the following National Awards :-

Given personally by the President of India

Padmashri, one of the highest National Awards in our Country - Mar 1988    
                    
An Outstanding Employer of the Handicapped - Mar 1988

An Outstanding Employee, given to one of his employees; a bilateral arm amputee - Mar 1990

National Technology Award, carrying a cash prize of Rs. 20,000/-, a certificate and a citation - Mar 1991
The Best Institution Award carrying a cash prize of Rs. one lac, a certificate and a citation - Mar 1992

OTHER AWARDS

 Lok Shree Award by the Institute of Economics Studies,New Delhi. Presented at Bombay by Hon. Sh. N. Mallikarjunaiah, Dy. Speaker, Lok Sabha (later State Minister of Defence, Govt. of India) - Oct 1993

Bhagat Puran Singh Award, presented by Hon. Late Mr Dilbagh Singh, Minister for Agriculture & Forests, Punjab - Mar 1993

North India level Best Handicapped Services Award, presented by Hon. Sh. Thakur Kaul Singh, Speaker, Vidhan Sabha, Himachal Pradesh - Feb 1994

Sulakshana - Ram Janam Pandey' (BEST INSTITUTION AWARD 95) by NASEOH National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicapped, Bombay - Dec 1995

Besides, he had also received many other Awards / Honours from Red Cross, Lions, Rotary Clubs and similar other Associations / Organisations.

From the foregoing, it will be seen that Col. Vohra had excelled himself in the field of Prosthetics - Orthotics and rehabilitation of not only the disabled persons but also dedicated his services to the suffering humanity. He had been associated with their welfare for about FIFTY years.

As majority of the disabled persons attending this institution belong to the rural areas and are poor, Col. Vohra's concept of their rehabilitation is rural based. They are encouraged to go back to their original professions and families in their rural environments. His experiment had been very successful.

One of Col. Vohra's major contribution, had been towards the rehabilitation of arm amputees including bilateral. He can boast of helping the rehabilitation of about the largest number of arm amputees in this part of the world. In his view, there is hardly any village in Punjab that does not have one or more arm amputees. This includes old, young, men, women and children.

By attending various international conferences / seminars, visits as a WHO S.T. Consultant and helping the rehabilitation of patients from abroad, Col. Vohra had considerably contributed towards international understanding and harmony. Through sheer dedication and selfless services, he had thus, helped the rehabilitation / resettlement of thousands of unfortunate victims of nature, disease, wars and accidents so that they become useful and sulf supporting members of our society and `LIVE AGAIN', with Pride and Dignity, also with a feeling that;

"DISABILITY IS NO MORE A LIABILITY'