The story of 43-year-old Pradeep Sethi, is not only that of rags-to-riches — from a farm labourer to becoming one of India’s top hair transplant surgeons — but also one of a philanthropist with a mission to provide quality education to kids in his remote village of Berunapadi, 160 km from Bhubaneshwar in Odisha.

It was education, delivered through various charitable trusts, that transformed Sethi’s life. Now, he hopes to return the favour through the Utkal Gaurav International school that he has built in his village at a cost of ₹10 crore to provide free education for village kids.

Backing his venture are industrialists like Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India; Puneet Goenka of Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Rahul Bajaj.

“I used to work in a farm as a daily labourer but always wanted to study. I got admission in Navodaya school; scored well in exams to get admission at the Government Medical College in Sambalpur in Odisha. I studied dermatology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi and started my practice from Rishikesh in 2008, where I got influenced by the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and followed it strongly,” Sethi said, at the launch of the school.

“I was helped by various Trusts while I was studying. Now, I want the village kids to explore the world with quality education,” he said. Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik virtually inaugurated the school on Saturday.

“Until 2020, it was just a large farming land where I used to work as a daily worker. But, today, the same land houses the school,” said Sethi, outlining how he hopes to pump in ₹100 crore for the whole infrastructure in 10 acres of land in five years.

Son of the soil returns to remote Berunapadi in Odisha to set up school
Pradeep Sethi on his journey from a farm labourer to becoming one of India’s top hair transplant surgeon.Video Credit: TE Raja Simhan

Adar Poonawalla wrote the first cheque for ₹1 crore; the second cheque was given by Sethi’s wife; Puneet Goenka wrote a cheque for ₹4.60 crore and Rajiv Bajaj gave ₹3 crore. Many more, including cricketers and actors, have extended their help, Sethi said.

Sethi along with his wife Arika Bansal founded Eugenix Hair Transplant Sciences — a chain that has done over 3,000 hair transplants, including on cricketers Mohammad Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri, and singer Anup Jalota. “Most of my clients have helped in building the school,” he added.

 ( Eugenix sponsored this writer’s visit to Bhubaneshwar)