Obituary: Dr. Tahira Khanam

…a leading light in health & educational entrepreneurship

Dr. Javid Iqbal
Srinagar, Publish Date: May 19 2017 11:42PM | Updated Date: May 21 2017 4:55PM
Obituary: Dr. Tahira KhanamFile Photo

Dr. Tahira Khanam is no more. As the chain of educational institutions of ‘Khanam’s Trust’ established  in her name set to start a new day around 1000 hrs on Wednesday, the news reached of her bidding adieu to the mortal world. An era in health and educational entrepreneurship in the valley of Kashmir came to an end, of which she was the leading light.  She went on to show the path on how private sector could contribute to enhance health care in a state where public sector was short on providing comprehensive care. And, care which could provide additional perks, as and when needed.  Dr. Tahira Khanam started with a big plus. By her side stood the husband, Abdul Aziz Dar, a man of many parts. Jointly, the couple realized the dream of putting in place a quality health care facility in uptown locality of what was then called Hazuri Bagh. It stands renamed as Iqbal Park. The project started on a small note more or less half a century back in latter half of 60’s of 20th century. 

In early 60’s, Dr. Tahira Khanam was demonstrating the human cadavers in the anatomical dissection hall to a group of enthusiastic students, of which I was one. She was in an illustrious company of teachers, the ones making their mark as pioneers in imparting medical education in formative years of GMC Srinagar. In the anatomy department the group included—Dr. Aslam Qazi, Dr. A.N. Safaya, Dr. Makhan Lal Ghasi. The department was headed by Prof. Aiyar—a renowned name in his field. Nurtured by Prof Aiyar, all the teachers named made a mark ahead on their career path. Dr. Tahira Khanam however was slated for higher projects. She left GMC rather early to make a mark on her own.

The health care facility in Hazuri Bagh developed to be a nursing home, and eventually to a multi-disciplinary hospital catering to maternity care, apart from providing surgical facilities in diverse fields, such as general surgical, orthopaedic and ENT streams. Para-clinical diagnostic facilities were added in phased manner, as the private health care centre developed a measure of financial muscle. Dr. Tahira Khanam on her own worked day and night to establish the maternity unit, making it a first choice destination for expectant mothers demanding quality care with added facilities. Her life partner--Abdul Aziz Dar endowed with managerial capabilities and keen financial sense took care of making the facility financially sound—a primary requirement in private health care. The couple in fact did much more.

In the city suburbs on the road to Gulmarg, the couple with a dream to realize planned an educational campus at Lawaypora. In the HMT area nearby, an industrial facility for the manufacture of garments was established. Abdul Aziz Dar had mastered silk manufacture in occident in his formative years, later heading the JK government state department in the same enterprise. His vast managerial capabilities honed over years stood him in good stead as Tahira Khanam’s group of industries widened it wings in subsequent years to include other industrial enterprises. In the social sector however, the additions in health and educational sector served the society in a meaningful manner and made Tk’s—Tahira Khanam’s a brand name in societal care on a vast scale. 

The gradually widening educational campus in Lawaypora includes Tahira Khanam’s Paramedical Sciences Institute (TKPMSI) Tahira Khanam’s Higher Secondary School (TKHSS) Tahira Khanam’s College of Education (TKCOE). It was in paramedical sciences institution that I renewed my interaction with my teacher of yester years. The institute was on a drive to shape a faculty. And, I was looking for professional readjustment after putting in three decades abroad. Dr. Tahira Khanam with her pleasing demeanour held me on an oath—never to leave to leave my people again. The gentle touch of the teacher was marked. Our own people should matter the most, she insisted.  For a moment, I felt sheepish, virtually taken in by her admonishing. On Feb: the 15th 2002, I was taken in what is called Khanam’s family. Everyone associated with Tk’s Trust is taken to be a family member. I have been one ever since. Eventually, I headed Paramedical Sciences Institute.  The association with the ‘Trust’ continues.

Over the last decade and a half, I interacted with the ‘Chairperson’ the position Dr. Tahira Khanam held in the ‘Trust’ and had a first-hand experience of the passion of the gracious couple. The chairperson kept herself abreast of progress of all the educational institutes affiliated to the ‘Trust’ particularly of paramedical sciences institute. Until, the very end, even with waning physical and mental faculties, she remained acutely conscious of the dire need of quality paramedic care. And, so did her husband. Tk’s has provided scores of paramedics—nurses, lab: technicians, operation theatre technologists, medical assistants to public and private health care institutes, since the inception of paramedical sciences institute in 1999.

In the educational sector, in an effort to take educational care to the doorstep, Tk’s has set-up a chain of schools in Anantnag, Tral, Awantipora, and in Srinagar city suburbs of Gopalpora and Panzynara, more are slated in the years to come. The couple that made it possible however left for hereafter within a space of few months, the spirit though lives on---

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

(Author is doctor in medicine, a social activist, and a senior columnist)

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