Charitable Lensman

What’s the secret to recovering from an illness or an ailment? Pop the question to Dr Mukesh Batra, a renowned homeopath, and a resolved reply comes to fore: “The cure lies in the body itself and when you go to a doctor who you think will cure you, the body actually starts healing itself. For anyone who is positive of the outcome, half the battle is won.” Not surprising then that the 66-year-old’s holistic approach towards treatment is the reason behind the 220 crore flourishing business not just across the country, but overseas as well.

Today, as chairman emeritus, Batra is no longer involved in the day-to-day affairs of the business, which he has professionalised over the years by creating verticals and bringing in a CEO. The metamorphosis has helped the doctor turn footloose and hit the road with his Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera, a passion that has become a ritual for more than a decade now.

While Batra was always happy wielding the camera at family trips, it was only in 2003 that his snaps — which he clicked on a trip to the Himalayas — got him recognition. A patient of the doctor who turned out to be an executive with Citi Bank, asked Batra to showcase his pictures from the trip at Citi Bank's charity event in the Mumbai head office. “I thought if a brand such as Citi Bank believes in my work, then I can’t be that bad,” explains Batra, who was further encouraged when his pictures were published in the Afternoon Despatch & Courier, by the-then editor, Farzana Contractor.

Over the years, with the evolution of the camera from manual to digital, Batra also matured as a photographer. “I have understood that over a period of time, sad face pictures don’t sell any more. It’s always the outdoors, beautiful landscapes, rainbows — the happiness of life that we experience — that sells the most. So, I have restricted my photography to just that,” smiles Batra. 

It is his positive approach towards life, that drives Batra’s hobby today. Since 2003, the doctor has had 50 exhibitions and raised 50 lakh for charity. Exhibitions have been held across prominent cities and metros of India to showcase the natural beauty of various picturesque locations — Switzerland, Italy, Maldives, Hawaii, France, Canada, Greece, Nepal and Udaipur to name a few. In December, an exhibition was held at the Piramal Art Gallery, NCPA in Mumbai showcasing the mesmerising and enchanting landscapes of Bhutan. “Every year I earmark a week to 10 days of travel just for my photo assignment. These solo trips are just aimed at capturing nature at its best,” says Batra, who regrets not having captured the beauty of Hawaii, as the usually bright sunny island country had overcast conditions during his trip.

To ensure that the cost is feasible, so that he can continue his charitable endeavour, the framed pictures range between 2,000 and 15,000, depending on the size. Of all the cities where the exhibitions were held, Batra points out that it’s always been Mumbaikars who have loosened their purse strings much more than their counterparts in other cities. “By and large Mumbai has been the most charitable, though I have had donors from the north sending in cheques for 25,000 to 50,000,” reveals Batra. In cases where pictures don’t get sold, they either find their way to some NGOs to adorn their walls, while the others go to his clinics.

To keep his charitable movement going, the doctor is looking for sponsors to fund his travel trips and he is looking to partner with corporates who can deploy their funds from their CSR kitty for the cause. Even as Dr Batra gets ready for his sojourn to Bhutan, he has taken to another noble cause — singing for an old widows’ home at Byculla.