MANIPAL AND MANGALORE
Articulate, photogenic and with loads of ties to Michigan, the Vice Chancellor of Manipal University Raj Warrier—now there’s name for an Indian superhero—proved an ideal subject for interview. Having spend nearly thirty years in the United States, many of them at Henry Ford, he recently returned to India to the hallowed Manipal University, which has over 91,000 students worldwide, many from the United States—and Michigan in particular. In his new role at the school, Dr. Warrier will continue to teach and offer consultation at a local pediatric hematology/oncology clinic.
Following the interview, we met up with a handful of those Michigan students in between classes. They all had Indian roots, but had been very much acclimatized to the somewhat affluent lifestyles of Farmington Hills, Canton and Shelby Township, and were in various states of culture shock—but in a good way. The university setting is second to none in terms of resources, and classes are taught in English. It was, for them an exciting return to their ancestral home, and at least one of them, Pallavi Balabhadrapatruni, intends to remain in India once she gets her medical degree, to practice. “I owe it to India,” she says with the sort of human compassion that we’ve come to expect with Indians. In fact, all the students agreed: the superiority of Indian medical training—the reason they chose Manipal when most could have attended any medical college in the U.S., was the bedside emphasis, the understanding of the patient as well as the illness. To prove the point, Manipal University runs a private/public partnership program that treats patients free of charge. Currently, there are more than nine thousand inpatient beds available.
The city of Manipal is situated in the rocky hinterland of the fabled Malabar (Konkan) coast of Southwest India. It’s green and temperate, only a short drive to the rain forests of the Western Ghat Mountains, and proved a welcome relief from the parched lands we’d experienced in the North. Indeed, the cyclone that blew through on our last evening in Bangalore brought a cleansing rain which showed the city to its ultimate advantage.