Dr Rajesh Babu Bhatchala, a 2008 Commonwealth Shared Scholar from India, has won the 2015 Education UK Alumni Award for Social Impact, for his commitment to providing affordable eye care to people living in rural India.

After completing his Scholarship at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, studying for a Master’s in Community Eye Health, Rajesh founded Drishti-Vision for Life, which provides high quality affordable eye care to people from all economic backgrounds in Karnataka, India. Using the skills and knowledge in promoting eye care and designing programmes to tackle eye disease in developing countries that he learnt during his Master’s, Rajesh began by targeting prices towards the most deprived areas of India and went on to establish a well-equipped district hospital in rural Bangalore.

The success of the initial ventures resulted in further support, through a 50 million rupee investment from a social investment fund. Drishti-Vision for Life opened a new hospital in January 2015 in Channapatna district, and there are plans to open two more hospitals by the end of 2015, and four more by the end of 2016. So far, the organisation has performed more than 4,000 eye surgeries and seen more than 90,000 people across three locations, including outreach clinics using a specially designed bus.

‘It was a pleasant surprise to be recognised for my work,’ said Rajesh, commenting on his award. ‘I proudly recommend UK education to everyone seeking quality education that always promotes the application of knowledge to solve problems. I am thankful to both the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission for the opportunity afforded to me and the British Council for my award.’

The Education UK Alumni Awards, organised by the British Council, recognise the achievements of international alumni of UK universities. Applications for the 2016 awards will open in August 2015. For more information, visit the Education UK Alumni Awards website.