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Krishnaswami Srinivas Sanjivi (1903–1994) was an Indian medical doctor, Gandhian, social worker and the founder of Voluntary Health Services (VHS), a medical facility in Chennai reported to be serving the lower and middle-class people of the society.He was honoured by the Government of India in 1971 with Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award.Five years later, the government followed it up by awarding him the third highest civilian award of Padma Bhushan in 1976.
Srinivas Sanjivi was born in 1903 at Pudukkottai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu to Dharmambal and P. S. Krishnaswamy Iyer,the self-appointed guardian of Muthulakshmi Reddi, a renowned Indian physician and the first woman legislator in India, during her college days.He was the youngest of their four children, the eldest a daughter, Veda and his elder brothers, Krishnaswamy Swaminathan, noted journalist and the chief editor of The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi and Krishnaswamy Venkataraman, former director of the National Chemical Laboratory;both would go on to win Padma Bhushan awards.He did his schooling at P. S. Senior Secondary School and graduated from the Presidency College, Madras after which he joined Madras Medical College from where he graduated in medicine (MBBS) in 1927.He secured a master’s degree (MD) in general medicine from the same institution in 1932 and joined government service.
Sanjivi served many places in the erstwhile Madras state like Madanapalle, Madurai and Madras city and held several senior positions in the state government service including the post of the Director of Tuberculosis in the Madras Medical Service, Professor of medicine at Stanley Medical College and Madras Medical College and also served as the first physician at the Government General Hospital, Chennai. When his legitimate claim to the post of the Director of Medical Services was ignored, he voluntarily retired from government service and founded the Voluntary Health Services (VHS) in 1958 as a non profit making non governmental organization to extend cost effective medical services to the poor and middle class sections of the society.Declining the offer of the post of a professor of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and choosing not to resort to private practice, he engaged himself fully into the work associated with VHS.
The Government of India awarded Sanjivi the civilian award of Padma Shri in 1971. He was again selected for the national award in 1976, this time for the third highest honour of Padma Bhushan.Voluntary Health Services honours him with an annual lecture, K. S. Sanjivi Endowment Lecture, since 1995, Aruna Roy, Vishwa Mohan Katoch and Ravi Narayan being some of the notable personalities who have delivered the lecture in the past.The auditorium at VHS is also named after him.
Krishnaswamy Srinivas Sanjivi died in October 1994 at the age of 91.