Dr. Ashok Pai

Dr Ashok Pai is a well known personality . He is not only popular in and around Shimoga but he is well known in most parts of India. His dedication and work in the field of psychosis and neurosis is incredible. He is not only known as a Doctor , he is a successful Producer and produced popular movies on human minds. His books are, for many, a pathway into the human psyche. And in this present world, where money is the first most priority, Dr. Pai has refused the lucre of big money and opted to work in Shimoga town. His choice to work in backward, rural India was a conscious decision, knowing fully well that it kept him away from the limelight.

Pai's major focus has been to zero in on and distinguish between psychosis and neurosis. He says, "psychosis is a major mental disorder and sometimes responds to drugs, rarely to counselling. On the other hand neurosis often responds to counselling."

His public face, however, comes from the many award winning movies that he has produced for film maker Suresh Heblikar. "The idea was to create mass awareness on psychiatry through the medium of films. This way we could reach out to several thousands and explain basic and complicated themes to the people."

Among these films were the national and state award winning Kadina Benki, the Filmfare Award winner Usha Kirana and the state award winning Aaghatha. With Girish Karnad, he made the TV serial Antarala. The inspiration for most of these films came from cases that Dr. Pai had seen and helped treat.

Dr. Pai advocates a new approach to community psychiatry. He recognises the role of religion and cultural patterns in creating personality quirks. "Religion and psychiatry are closely connected, especially in the rural milieu where it is difficult to sell one discipline without help from the other."

To make psychotherapy broad based, he began a project in which he co-operated with religious heads, social workers and teachers in the Malnad area, where most of his work is focused. "They all play an active role in counselling. When they realise that someone has come to them with a severe problem, they refer him to me. That way, many who would have otherwise been subject to treatment by witch doctors and exorcists now have a real chance of receiving psychiatric treatment."

What's more, in the process Dr. Pai has been able to win over the confidence and trust of local Parish heads, maulvis and other practitioners of village and tribal medicine.

Dr. Pai set up Manasa, a 100-bedded psychiatric nursing home, in the 70s catering to the needs of the rural folk in and around the Shimoga area. Today patients come there from all over India.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

With the Dr. B.C. Roy National Award for 1999 for `Socio Medical Relief', Dr. K.A. Ashok Pai finally gets his due on the national stage.The award is given to four leading medical practitioners of the country by the Medical Council of India.