We spoke to Ashim Chowla, Chief Executive of Lepra in India to find out more about why he works for Lepra and the challenges he faces in India. 

Lepra India Chief Exec, Ashim ChowlaWhy do you do what you do for Lepra?

"It’s only when I started working within Lepra that I realised that Lepra had saved my life. When I was eight years old I developed leprosy.  My mother took me to a doctor and I was given treatment. I only realised when I joined Lepra that I owed my entire existence to Lepra. Lepra had brought MDT (multi-drug therapy) to India and that’s how I was cured and that is one of the biggest reasons why I continue to passionately work for Lepra."

With regards to India as a country, we've seen quite a lot in the news about the space industry and billionaires that live in India. What is the difference between what the world sees of India and what you see of India?

"India has postured itself as a superpower much like in the cold wars. The United States of America and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) competed with each other now every country is competing with the other country. India is competing with Pakistan, several other countries, China even, to show their muscle and their strength and their power, and therefore they put all their problems under the carpet. The reality of India is very different.

It’s a country of shocking contradictions. Can you imagine a situation where 60% of the people are employed in the agriculture sector, where just 20% of the GDP is located? Which basically means that 60% of India’s population is poor. The £187billion net worth of the 90 billionaires means nothing, because most of India is chronically poor."