‘Ignorance of facts is a curse that Nations and its people will pay for heavily in terms of security, strategy and overall handling of situations’ says the author pithily. Maj. Dr. S.K. Lal began his career as an army doctor in the Indian Medical Service, later re-named Royal Indian Army Medical Corps and belonged to a genre of Indian Army doctors who saved many a soldier’s life in very challenging conditions of the bloody Second World War, in which 250,000 Indian Armed Forces formed a highly war-winning component of the Allies. After partition, Maj Lal, a pathologist by profession, came to India from Rawalpindi, which became part of Pakistan and having left the Army, set up a lab in Delhi as Central Clinical Laboratory in 1949, with about 30 patients visiting it every day. After taking over his father’s lab, Dr Arvind Lal changed its name to Dr Lal PathLabs. The story of its growth makes for fascinating reading. Dr Lal PathLabs has since its inception, tested over 15.5 million patients and carries out lab tests of 70,000 patients every day.
Dr Lal PathLabs (LPL) has become one of the most reputed laboratories in Asia having to its credit a record of 28 labs accredited from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India). It has achieved International recognition to the Indian Healthcare Industry in the form of accreditation from the College of American Pathologists (CAP – USA).
Dr. Lal has revolutionised laboratory medicine by introducing the maximum number of new tests, instruments and ICT (Information, Communications, Technology) systems in India. His R & D unit has done India proud by developing the latest tests in molecular diagnostics, cytogenetics, genetics and many more. The aim of the R&D division is to provide highly specialised tests at low cost to the weaker sections of the society.
Arvind is a member of many expert and advisory bodies constituted by the central and the state governments. He is accredited to having the first PPP (Public Private Partnership) in the field of laboratory testing with the Govt. of Tripura since 2004 and later with Government of Gujarat for testing over 30,000 new born babies in 2011- 2012. In 2017, NITI Aayog appointed him as the Convenor of the Working Group on Diagnostics that submitted a model PPP to the Aayog that will form the template for future PPPs in diagnostics with the Central & State Governments.
He is currently the Chairman of Health Services Committee, FICCI. Dr. Lal is also an active member of NATHEALTH, Healthcare Federation of India, National Healthcare Committee of CII and has played a significant role in promoting the Indian Healthcare sector abroad. He is also leading the Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC) Curriculum Development Committee for Paramedical Training in the field of Laboratory Medicine.
Appointed as the Honorary Physician to the President of India in 2001, Dr. Lal has also been serving as a pathologist to almost all the past and present Presidents’ and Prime Ministers of India. His laboratory is the nodal laboratory testing the largest number of government employees in India from CGHS, ECHS, Ministry of Railways, Delhi Government and many others. He has been invited as the Keynote Speaker at IIM Ahmedabad and also by the Harvard Business School, USA. In 2016, IIM Ahmedabad published a Case Study on Dr Lal PathLabs as a part of their teaching curriculum.
Awarded with the Padma Shri, Dr. Lal is also the first civilian doctor to be granted an honorary Brigadier’s rank in Armed Forces Medical Services. In 2015, under his leadership, his company had one of the most successful IPOs’ in recent history of the National Stock Exchange. In 2016, All India Management Association (AIMA) conferred on Dr. Lal the “Entrepreneur of the Year”award. In 2017, Dr Lal was conferred with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce (FICCI).
Apart from all the achievements mentioned, this poignant biography with many enjoyable anecdotes, makes for a delightful read.