In his later years, Dr Baliga stopped charging fees for his operations. But he would tell me, his anaesthetist: "Bhojraj, please send me your bill. I am not charging this patient”. I learnt that he was asking his rich patients to donate the fees that he would otherwise have charged, to some worthy cause.

The following episode illustrates what I mean. One morning while Dr Baliga was operating, a telephone call came which I picked up. At the other end was Lady Modi, Sir Homi Modi's wife. She told me that she wanted to talk to Dr Baliga. I naturally told her that he was operating and can I take a message? She said: "Dr Baliga operated on my husband and I am still waiting to get his bill”. When I relayed this conversation to Dr Baliga he told me to tell Lady Modi that he was not charging anything for the operation. Lady Modi was very agitated; she kept insisting on paying. Finally Dr Baliga asked me to tell her that she could make a donation to a certain institution. And how much should she pay, she persisted in asking. "Tell her” Dr Baliga told me, "to pay whatever she thought befitted the name of Sir Homi Modi”. The matter ended there. A few years later, I happened to visit Kumta, a town in North Kanara district and I decided to look up the local Arts and Science College. The Principal proudly told me that Dr Baliga was one of the patrons of the college. He also pointed out to a board that listed the names of other patrons. Among them was the name of Sir Homi Modi who was shown as having given Rs 25,000. This was then the amount "befitting the name of Sir Homi" which had been paid as donation to the College, one of Dr Baliga's favourite projects.

There were many other similar instances like this. In his last years, Dr Baliga took almost nothing for himself. But he supported many worthwhile causes and many are the individuals who benefited from his largesse. I salute him.

Read more stories about Dr.A.V.Baliga:

The Guru Tradition - 4

The Guru Tradition - 5

The Guru Tradition - 6

The Guru Tradition - 7

The Guru Tradition - 8

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar