India is in the throes of a cancer crisis. More than 140,000 cases are recorded in the country every year, and it would not be a surprise if as many go undetected as well. The situation is made worse by the reality that lifestyle changes and lack of awareness and testing are causing the disease to afflict more and more people. This is a precipitous state and it will take more than government efforts to turn the tide. The Tata Trusts have pitched in to help and our cover story tracks how they are doing so.

The Trusts — and the Tata group as a whole — have for long played a sterling role in the fight against cancer in India, the best example being the renowned Tata Memorial Hospital, founded by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust back in 1941. That is the legacy and inspiration behind the establishment in Tirupati of the Sri Venkateswara Institute of Cancer Care & Advanced Research (SVICCAR) by the Alamelu Charitable Foundation, an associate organisation of the Trusts, in collaboration with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams and with the support of the Andhra Pradesh government.

SVICCAR is set to become an important centre for patients in Tirupati and its neighbouring areas. But the more substantial component of the Trusts’ endeavour is the distributed model of cancer care, comprising accessibility, high-quality treatment, affordability, and awareness and early detection. Now unfolding in seven states, this is a model that carries the promise of transforming cancer care and treatment in India.

Health, in a wider context, is also the subject of our centre stage section, which explains how the Trusts-backed India Health Fund (IHF) is enabling innovative enterprises to seek out and cement solutions for tuberculosis, malaria and more. The emphasis here is on communicable diseases and the underserved sections of our society, and IHF has come a fair distance in fulfilling its mandate.

We have an eclectic mix of feature stories in this edition of Horizons: women-centred lac cultivation in Jharkhand; community-led action in Rajasthan to put menstrual hygiene on the agenda; skilling that leads to employment generation in West Bengal; delivering access to drinking water and toilets in tribal villages in Gujarat; and an initiative in Punjab through which farmers are giving up the toxic practice of stubble burning.

Additionally, we have an interview with C Sreenivas of the Sanjeevani group of hospitals, where the focus is on children with congenital heart disease, and an article by Malavika Chauhan, head of rural upliftment at the Trusts, about livelihood concerns in our hinterland and how these can be resolved. There is also social development expert Amit Malaviya on what can, and should, be done to provide a fillip to female participation in India’s workforce. To wrap it up, images score over words in our photo feature, which frames apricot farmers from tribal communities in Ladakh.

Christabelle Noronha

We hope you will help us make Horizons better with your valuable feedback. Please do write to us at horizons@tatatrusts.org.

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