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HomeDEFENCECol. Matwankar- the man with the healing touch

Col. Matwankar- the man with the healing touch

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Col. Matwankar was born on 22 August 1944 to a middle class family at Indore. His father was a Doctor who joined the Army as an Emergency Commissioned Officer at the age of 43 years following the Indo-China war of 1962. His mother is a home maker.

He did all his studying at Indore and his Mother stayed back along with his brother so that there was no break in their education while their father was being posted to various districts of Madhya Pradesh. He states that he was an average student who was more interested in sports and NCC. Immediately after his matriculation in 1959, he wanted to appear for the NDA entrance examination but his father advised him to do some technical education and then join the Army, if he still wanted to at that time. That is how he ended up pursuing the medical stream.


The Col’s father has been a great influence on developing his character and personality as he taught him to be humble but fearless, committed, honest and upright. He insists that whatever he is today  is, mainly because of his late father Dr. (Maj) P J Matwankar, Prof. Sitendu Bose (his teacher from Medical College days) and late Brig. R K Rakshit (one of his Commanding Officers, who later on became his friend, philosopher and guide till his last breath). As a youngster he was always fascinated by tales of bravery narrated by his Instructors in NCC (in 50s & 60s it was very popular for any youngster to be associated with NCC). His tryst with it started in 1955 and continued till 1966. During that time he had the privilege of representing Madhya Pradesh in the Republic Day Contingent (1962) & Advanced Leadership Course (1964). And so you can see he was fated to join the Indian Army.

Looking back on his life he says he was always destined to be an Army officer and so joined the Army in Jan 1968 immediately after finishing his internship. He was lucky to be posted to Military Hospital at NDA, Khadakvasla. He learnt a lot from the Cadets which came in handy later in the 1980s while looking after AFMC students. After serving in Mizoram and Nagaland when hostilities were still prevailing and where he got his first Chief Of Army Staff’s Commendation for actively attending to casualties during an ambush, he had the privilege of being posted to Indian Military Training Team, Bhutan. Other postings were as DADMS of an Infantry Division, Field Hospital of an Offensive Division, Field Ambulance of an Independent Mountain Brigade, Military Hospital, Mhow twice (once as Commanding Officer), Command Hospital, Southern Command, Pune, AFMC twice (as Training Officer and later as Prof & HOD, Hospital Administration), and Commanding Officer of Military Hospital Jaipur and Nasirabad.

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Col. Matwankar was awarded his second Chief Of Army Staff’s Commendation for his services at AFMC, Pune as Training Officer. That tenure of his was the golden period of his life, he is quick to state. The students there were his greatest teachers according to him. He experienced first-hand on the handling of 2 strikes, 1 riot & 1 affray. The special bond which was formed with the young students continues to this day and that is a perfect assessment of the person that he is.


It was sometime in early 1997 that he was approached by Reliance Industries Limited to leave the Army and join them as they were planning to get in to the health sector. He regretted their offer thrice being a hard core officer till the time he was convinced that his destiny lay with them. At that time he was asked to be the Chairman of an Inter-service committee to review the Scales of Accommodation & Furniture for Armed Forces Hospitals. It was a mammoth task which he accomplished before proceeding on pre- mature retirement. It is interesting to note that all service hospitals are being planned till date on those scales. His request for pre-mature retirement was not granted for more than a year (informally he was told that it could not be granted being invaluable to the service, which turned out to be a big laugh) as they superseded him for the promotion to Brig. It’s ironical that in the civvies street he went in for assignments on invitation when service felt he was no good, he reminisces. Despite this he holds Defence Services in high esteem. His journey was as challenging in the civvies street as in the Defence Services. He had the freedom to innovate and proudly did so in the areas of the nurse call system, outsourcing of even core areas which till then were taboo, initiation of SMS to all functionaries as soon as the patient was given a unique number, etc. These innovations introduced first by him are now being practiced by many hospitals in India.

Probably he is the only Hospital Administrator in the country who has had the experience of working in the Health Care sector of Defence Services, Corporate, State and Central Government, wherein he has handled teaching, research, hospital planning projects, heading operations, reviving medical colleges & affiliated hospitals. Teaching was and is his passion to this day. It was his firm belief to change the system while still working within it and has led to development of Norms for Water requirement in Indian Hospitals, Power requirement in an ICU of a tertiary care Indian Hospital, etc.


He served as Senior Vice President, Reliance Industries Ltd (1998 to 2005) Director, Reliance Hospital Management Services Pvt Ltd (1998 to 2005) and Chief of Hospitals and I/c Hospital Projects, Reliance Industries Ltd (1998 to 2005). Col. Matwankar was responsible for planning/commissioning/running of Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Lodhivali a state-of-art facility in rural setting. The hospital was culmination of dreams of Shri Dhirubhai Ambani to set-up a modern facility in rural area to provide multi-speciality facilities. He was also responsible for reviving the fortunes of 80 year old (first Private Hospital of Mumbai) Sir Hurkissondas Nurrotumdas Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai. The physical facilities were completely renovated to bring them on par with any comparable modern Health Care facility. The challenge was, however, to maintain the Heritage character of the buildings. He was also instrumental in adding D.N.B. programme on super-specialties and in strengthening Hurkissondas Nurrotamdas Medical Research Society. During his tenure he participated in finalizing plans for a new 300 bedded World class multi-specialty hospital in association with world renowned Health Care Architect Firm Perkins and Will, U.S.A.

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Col. Matwankar was part of the Medical Relief Team, Reliance Industries Ltd during the earth quake in Kutch region and was given responsibility by the Govt. of Gujarat to coordinate Medical Care at Anjar (one of the worst affected area) w.e.f. 27 Jan to 12 Feb 2001.

He decided to leave RIL in 2005 to pursue his hobbies and social work. The period from 2005 till date has been eventful for providing honorary service in the field of hospital planning and reviving Medical Colleges & affiliated hospitals. He has been Honorary Consultant for Brilliant Estates – Indore, Heritage Hospitals – Varanasi, Symbiosis – Pune and Mentor for planning and setting-up a Short Stay Surgical Centre at Pune. He is also former Honorary Chief Advisor Hospital Management MGM Medical College, Indore & Affiliated Hospitals, wherein, he has tried to develop an ideal model of Accident and Emergency Services.

As Chief Advisor, Medical Education & Hospital Management, University of Allahabad (2007 to 2008) he revived all facilities of Motilal Nehru Medical college and its affiliated teaching Hospitals (Swaroop Rani Nehru Hospital, Sarojini Naidu Children Hospital and M.D. Eye Hospital), which had become a part of Central University of Allahabad by then, to modern levels and made a master plan for a new multi-specialty hospital. The systems were critically analysed and policies and procedures made for improvement of academics/research/patient care. Concept of Building Audit was introduced for the first time to bring in awareness on ages of buildings and their maintenance. The changes brought in were positively commended by the print/electronic media, general public and the Hon’ble High Court of Allahabad.

He has a large number of papers to his credit on varied subjects like Hospital Infection, Fire – safety in Hospitals, Out-sourcing as a financial strategy in Health Care Industry, Appropriate use of Medical Technology including Equipment Planning, Day Care Surgery, a mathematical model for disposal of fatal case documents, Disinfection of anesthetic equipment in between 2 surgeries, observance of Universal Precautions In Acute Wards of a teaching hospital, etc.

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He handles all his various roles with aplomb… Be it as a guest lecturer, or as part of visiting faculty, or as examiner or member of a governing council or Chairman of various committees. Over the years it has been his endeavour to improve patient care with innovations in his own way. In last 2 years he has written about 112 policies and procedures on nursing activities with co-operation of Ms. Radha Madhvan, an expert in nursing. He has also prepared policies and procedures on hospital infection, safety, precautions to be taken for handling /transportation of anaesthetised patient, housekeeping, purchase procedure, etc

Col Matwankar mentions that his wife has been a great support in whatever he has done in the last 47 years. She has helped him tremendously in his 3 commands and tenure at AFMC. Many students used to jump over his bungalow gate and this was an indication that they had come to have goodies for Dinner. She did all this with a smiling face. Even in Civvies Street she was an ideal foil to all his activities. When they shifted to Pune in 2010 and was asked to be the President of Retired Medical Officers Association (RAMA), Pune, she had conceptualised & presented 3 musical programmes of old (40s, 50s&60s) songs from Hindi Movies. Both his sons are well settled and doing extremely well in their chosen fields, i.e. HR & Merchant Navy. God has been kind to him in all respects, he says.

It is pertinent to mention here that in the late 60s and 70s, Col. Matwankar, his father and elder brother (a Bombay Sapper Officer) were serving in the Army at the same time. There is a priceless photograph depicting the three of them in uniform.

Recently he has conceptualized templates on Patient Safety & Quality which post completion will be useful from the time any department of hospital is conceptualized to bench marking to compare the outcome. He hopes to write a book for future generations. He has seen Management as Manage+Men+T and has successfully used various Ts to manage men. He has further developed a matrix of various Ts, Is and Cs, to manage men effectively

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Rashmi Oberoi
Rashmi Oberoi
Freelance writer and columnist


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