M.W.Bro. Capt. Prof. Dr. Balaram Biswakumar, OSM, M.W. the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of India – known as “Biswa” to all his friends – was born in the South Indian temple town of Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu on 11th July 1941 to Mr. K. Balaram and Mrs. Revathi.
After completing his early education in his birthplace, he began his march around the world in pursuit of his higher education and his calling! The first stop was Madras, were he did his Pre-University Course at Loyola College after which he went to Trichy for his Pre-Medical at St. Joseph’s College. Having completed his preparatory work he joined the M.B.B.S. programme at Madurai Medical College, which he completed in 1962 and did an internship at the Government Erskine Hospital in the same city. He followed this up with acquiring his advanced degree of M.D. in General Medicine from JIPMER, Pondicherry and D.M. in Neurology from the Madras Medical College. He pursued further specialization in Neurology in London, Oxford, Glasgow and Edinburgh and returned to Madras – now Chennai – to establish his flourishing clinical practice as well as to impart his wealth of knowledge to students of Medicine and Neurology in many institutions, namely, JIPMER, Puducherry; Madras Medical College, Chennai; Sri Ramachandra Medical College, Chennai; and, various paramedical institutions in Chennai and Salem. Additionally, he also served as Honorary Neurologist at the Government General Hospital, Chennai from 1970 to 1986. He has also had the distinction of not only attending, but also chairing many professional conferences throughout the world, such as Australia, Austria, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. He is an active member of the following professional bodies: Indian Medical Association, Association of Physicians of India, Neurological Society of India, Indian Academy of Neurology, World Stroke Association, Movement Disorders Society, Chicago, and, New York Academy of Sciences. Besides, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, U.K. and of the International College of Angiology.
M.W.Bro. Capt. Prof. Dr. Balaram Biswakumar, OSM served the Indian Army as an Emergency Commissioned Officer in the Army Medical Corps from 1963 to 1967 and was honourably discharged with the rank of Captain. He saw active service in Jammu and Kashmir and the Indo - Pakistan War, in recognition of which he was awarded the J & K Service Medal as well as the 1965 War Medal.
He has been a Member of Rotary International since 1968 in the Rotary Club of Madras, the second oldest club in the country. He served as President of this club in 1995 – 1996. He also served the RI District 3230 in various capacities. All the members of his family are Paul Harris Fellows.
He is a keen sportsman, having represented his college in tennis, cricket, football and athletics. He is an avid and regular tennis player, participating in competitive games and a champion in many a tournament held in India and abroad. He is a member of the Madras Cricket Club, the Madras Gymkhana Club, the Madras Boat Club, the Madras Race Club and the Mylapore Club.
He is a connoisseur of classical music and an accomplished singer who is much sought after at many gatherings to enthrall the audience with old melodies in many languages. His many other interests are reflected in his membership of the YMCA, the SPCA, the Blue Cross, the Indian Red Cross Society and the Automobile Association of India.
He is the Author and Managing Trustee of Sri Kanchi Paramaguru Medical Trust that, since 1988, has been rendering medical, educational and other aid to the residents of two Old Age Homes located, one each at Kalavai, North Arcot District, Tamil Nadu and Sri Kalahasthi, Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh, together housing about 200 destitute senior citizens and 25 physically-challenged children. He has also been actively involved in the treatment and rehabilitation of hundreds of physically-challenged, spastic and polio-afflicted children in and around Salem, Tamil Nadu since 1982. He was also connected with the Charitable Activities (Neurological Care) at the Adiparasakthi Medical Centre, Melmaruvathur, about 100 kms. from Chennai, every month for over ten years, until recently.
M.W.Bro. Capt. Prof. Dr. Balaram Biswakumar, OSM saw the light of Freemasonry on 05-09-1977 when he was Initiated in Lodge Vidya No.164 under the Grand Lodge of India, thus beginning his Masonic journey to the very top, when he was Installed as the fourteenth Grand Master of this ancient and honourable fraternity at a glittering function in Chennai on 21st November 2009 in the presence of more than 1600 Masons and over 500 non-Masons, including spouses of Masons and other invited guests in the first-ever public Installation of a Grand Master. His path to this Masonic pinnacle was chequered with many significant achievements including serving as R.W. the Regional Grand Master of the Regional Grand Lodge of Southern India from 2002 – 2004, during which period he was presented his 25-Year Long Term Service to Masonry Jewel. Further, M.W. the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India, M.W.Bro. Justice Devinder Gupta, OSM conferred upon him the distinguished Order of Service to Masonry in March 2008.
M.W.Bro. Capt. Dr. B. Biswakumar’s wife, Dr. Indira Biswakumar, M.D. a renowned pediatrician from Chennai tragically passed away in 1993. Their daughter, Dr. Priya Chandrasekhar, M.B.B.S., M.N.A.M.S., Diplomate of the National Board of Pediatrics is a famous pediatrician, neonatologist and adolescent physician, practicing at Apollo Hospitals and other hospitals in Chennai. Their son-in-law, Bro. Dr. R. Chandrasekhar, M.S. (Ophthalmology), DOMS (Bombay University), a Gold Medalist in M.B.B.S. is a practicing ophthalmic surgeon and a pioneer in multi-focal phaco surgery for cataract in Chennai. He is presently the Senior Warden in Lodge Vidhya, Chennai. Dr. Biswa’s two sprightly grand-daughters, Varshini and Aparajitha are the twin apples of his eyes.