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Omkar Nath Ji "Medicine Baba"

born in India (around 1940) also known as the “Medicine Baba” (Medicine Monk). is a retired blood bank technician from a hospital in New Delhi, who voluntarily collects unused medicines from people and distributes them to the poor free of charge.

Omkar started collecting medicine after realising the acute lack of accessibility of medicines, when he witnessed Delhi Metro under-construction bridge collapsed in East Delhi in 2008, claiming the lives of two labourers and injuring many others. The local hospital administered basic first aid, but nothing else and the injured returned home to die, unable to afford the cost of treatment. That incident shook Omkar and he became determined to not let something like this happen again.

Since last six years wearing a saffron kurta (shirt) that says “Mobile medicine bank for poor patients”, Omkar starts every day at 6 am from his rented home in the Mangalapuri slums and goes door to door in different areas of Delhi asking for unused medicines, which he then distributes to charitable hospitals, NGOs and clinics.

Crippled at the age of 12 in a car accident, Omkar walks five or six kilometres per day. He cannot afford the metro rail fare, so travels by buses with the help of his senior citizen pass. In remote areas where buses do not ply, he simply walks. At the end of every collection, Omkar carefully catalogues everything in his binder: the name of the drug, the manufacturer, where he collected it and the expiry date. Omkar makes no profit from these.

Omkar lives with his wife and 44-year-old mentally challenged son.

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Delhi Gaurav Award