|Obituary KS Mani, 1928-2001
In nearly a century of international coordination to relieve suffering from epilepsy, thousands have contributed, however, a few have been in a position thanks to their talents, circumstances, and personal dedication to bring about important progress in reaching that goal.
K.S. Mani, co-founder of the Indian Epilepsy Association (IEA, formally registered 1971) and its Bangalore chapter was such a person. That it was formally recognized that he spent a lifetime to improve conditions for people with epilepsy is shown by the fact that he received twice a lifetime achievement award. The first in Chennai at the occasion of the Indo-UK workshop on Trans-cultural perspectives in Epilepsy the second, shortly before he passed away on March 28, 2001, from the International League Against Epilepsy and the International Bureau for Epilepsy. Mani is the fifth person honored with the prestiguous ILAE/IBE Life Time Achievement Award.
Mani was born October 18, 1928, at Madurai, Tamil Nadu, British India. His father S.K Sundaram became a Professor of Therapeutics at Madras Medical College. K.S. Mani graduated in Science (B.Sc) in 1947, in Medicine (MBBS) in 1952 and received his postgraduate degree in General Medicine in 1956, all in Madras. His teacher professor B. Ramamurthi, has this to say about that period: “Dr. K.S. Mani was a hardworking medical student and during his house-surgeon assignment he was a resident of Ramamurthi for three months. His meticulous examination of the patients was reamrkable. At that time, 1950-1951 there was no separate neurology department and Mani learned a lot of neurology in that period that also came the department to good stead. Although he assisted with neurosurgical operations and notwithstanding the attempt of professor Ramamurthi to persuade him to continue in that discipline, neurology had his preference. With the backing of Ramamurthi he moved out of Madras in 1957 to start the department of neurology at the All India Institute of Mental Health and Sciences in Bangalore. His interest in epilepsy started very early and continued to his last day, in this he found Ramamurthi at his side, who considered KS Mani not only a former disciple but a lifelong friend, philosopher and guide. As expressed by Dr. H.V. Srinivas an executive committee member of the IEA “Mani’s appointment in Bangalore was the nucleus which under his guidance grew from strength to strength and the equal importance for neurological sciences in mental health was emphasized when the institute was made autonomous and re-christened National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences”. After three years in Bangalore he took additional training in neurology and pathology at the National Hospital for Nervous diseases at Maiden Vale and Queen Square in London (1960-1962). Subsequently he returned to Bangalore and became Professor and Head of the department in 1969 which post he held until his voluntary retirement in 1978. He held many honorary functions e.g. President of the Neurological Society of India (1972-1973), Honorary Consultant in Neurology to the Armed Forces Medical Services, Member of the Indian Council of Medical Research Expert Committee in Neurology. Fellow of the Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Vice president of the International Bureau for Epilepsy (1989-1993), Member from 1985– 989 and from 1989-1993 chairperson of the joint ILAE/IBE commission on developing countries Although he covered the whole field of neurology as witnessed by publications on tropical spastic paraplegia (South Indian paraplegia) and experimental neurolathyrism in monkeys, the problems of epileptology and improving care for people with epilepsy were his major concern. He described for the first time in great detail “Hot Water Epilepsy” a reflex epilepsy that is apparently peculiar to Karnataka State and South India. Together with Tandon and others he played a major role in the description of the epidemiology of epilepsy in India that was made possible by the application of PL-480 funds (WW-II war loans from the U.S. that were paid back by scientific output). This project was monitored by Earl Walker, a former ILAE president (1953-1961). Mani as president of the 18th International Epilepsy Congress and Maheswari as secretary-general, played a major role bringing the congress to New Delhi and making it a successful event beyond expectations, with a long lasting impact on epileptology in particular in India. The Bangalore chapter under his leadership realized the important role that non-professionals, especially patients and their relatives can play in such organization. Public education and education of general practitioners was a major objective for Mani and he showed an admirable mimicry of seizures in educational video-films in which he demonstrated the multiple phenomena of epilepsy. Once convinced of the value of an objective he was not easily deterred. It took twelve years to get a clause deleted by an act of parliament citing epilepsy as a disqualification for legal marriage in the Indian Marriage Act. This battle was won in December 1999. Mani was also a proponent of supervised delegation of epilepsy care to community health workers. Recently he and his co-workers analyzed the outcome of such approach in Yelandur, a remote part of the Mysore district of the state Karnataka to which also Bangalore belongs (Seizure 1998 7(4): 281-288 and The Lancet: accepted for publication March 2001).
His merits did not go unnoticed in 1975 he received the Ambassador for Epilepsy Award of the ILAE and IBE. In 1997 these organizations bestowed the Social Accomplishment Award in Epilepsy on him. In September 2000 he received from the TS Srinivasan Department of Clinical Neurology and
Research, Public Health Center Chennai their Life Time Achievement Award, which has been followed as mentioned by the Life Time Achievement Award conferred by the World epilepsy organizations ILAE and IBE.
All these awards are well deserved. Fortunately Mani has seen much what he has sown come to fruit and no doubt his influence will be manifest for many years to come. Although grateful to have known him, his death at a mature but not very old age, painfully deprives his many friends colleagues and patients, in particular his wife Geeta Rangan, herself a qualified neurologist with a brilliant academic career, dedicated to both clinical and research work, to whom our sincere condolences and sympathy go.