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Interview Team : Kaushik L M; Avudaiappan

Through Behindwoods News Shots, we also focus on general journalism and personalities outside cinema. Dr. Karthika's is the first interview in this section.

Dr.Karthika has been at the forefront of flood relief initiatives in Chennai city over the past few weeks, with the support of her fellow doctor colleagues and brother Dhanush. Read on to find out more about all that they are doing for the city, as it gets back on its feet after the devastating floods.

The magnitude of work done so far


We have conducted about 12 to 13 camps so far, and we started from Day 4 of the floods. We have covered areas such as RA Puram slums, North Chennai's Periyamedu, Pulianthope, MGR Nagar, Soolaipallam, Jafferkhanpet and also other interior areas which were most affected. We have attended to about 9000 patients, and did not provide them with just the normal medicines and common treatment.

We were a team of about 10 to 12 specialized doctors, with each being an expert in various branches of medicine. Early on, people were spotted with many problems and issues, but when we went to Soolaipallam for a 2nd camp, a week after the first camp, their condition was much better. They came to us and thanked us heartily. We were very satisfied with this, and camps are going on now too. Even 3 days back, we had a camp in Periyamedu and we are planning rehabilitation camps going forward.

What was the extent of Dhanush's involvement in this? We saw that he was very actively involved in mobilizing people through the social media


We got into doing relief work from Day 1 and used to have regular meetings after our camps at night. Dhanush was of much help in sourcing medicines. We needed medicines in large quantities, and he would network with people and somehow arrange loads and loads of medicines every day, in good numbers. And on-ground work was done by his fans who were of great help in crowd control, manpower, door to door service and also in providing special care to children and elders. They made sure that the medicines were reaching the right people, without any misuse. Dhanush fans in each area helped a lot and aided us in doing our jobs in a hassle-free manner.
All this was done with no banners or publicity by Dhanush fans. Dhanush wanted no one to know that he was involved, and he was also very particular that his fans shouldn't be sporting T-shirts having his image. This was because, everyone was a hero in this flood relief initiative and Dhanush didn't want to take any credit. He used to scold me too, if I told his name out by mistake. His promotions for Thangamagan were also very low key as he knew the magnitude of the situation facing the state. His social media presence and publicity was mainly to mobilize volunteers in that particular area because we as doctors won't have sources in this aspect. His tweets really helped in that.
Social media's role in communicating and checking up on people was immense when there were network issues during those days. We actually completed the delivery of a woman thanks to social media. People went beyond just chatting and showed that social media can make a difference.

Dhanush fans aided us in doing our jobs in a hassle-free manner.

How is the city now? Are we back on track? 

70% of the city is OK and people have recovered from the floods for sure. They are back to their normal lives to an extent. But in North Chennai, it will take some more time. Some people belonging to the lower / middle class strata have lost their jobs, businesses and whatever little savings they had. Medically they are fine but mentally they need counselling to bounce back. We plan to continue camps, once in two weeks or monthly once. They need awareness on sanitation and hygiene, and lots of mental rehabilitation. More doctors and volunteers need to take part. As a city, Chennai would prosper even more.

How about Cuddalore? Any plans on carrying out service there? 

Next week, we may be setting out to Cuddalore. Lots of practical things need to be organized, and many other doctors are also getting involved. We plan to cover at least 5000 patients with the help of volunteers and Dhanush fans there. We are in the process of setting up things.


Dr. Karthika - gynecologist, Dr. Karthik - cardiologist, Dr. Rajesh Kumar - general medicine, Dr. Sangeetha - plastic surgeon, Dr. Madhusudhanan - general surgeon, Dr. Babitha - dermatologist, Dr. Vanitha - gynecologist, Dr. Mahesh - surgical gastroenterology, Dr. Vimala Geetha - dentist, Dr. Sunny - dentist and 3 engineers - Arun, Balaji and Pradeep who helped a lot with all the practical arrangements at our camps. So we were a group of friends who did all this with Dhanush's help. Many more doctors have done great service and I would like to thank them all. We didn't have any epidemic thankfully. We feared the worst initially but have prevented any outbreak thanks to the many selfless doctors who are still working on the ground.
And in general, the way people stood up to face this crisis was unexpected. Even in the doctors community, many of us left private practice and came for field work selflessly without any expectations. The public did a major part. Any government can't do such magnitude of relief and recovery work single-handedly. We live in a safe, posh apartment in OMR and many of the owners opened up their homes for shelter, and provided food and water. We accommodated a lot of women and kids in particular. I personally saw a commoner using his truck for transporting people to and fro, repeatedly on many rounds. All of us worked together on this.
Great work team. Hats off !!!

We feared the worst initially but have prevented any outbreak thanks to the many selfless doctors who are still working.



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