In 1996, Bijoya Goswami, an anaesthesiologist at the Guwahati Medical College, and her husband Anil Kumar Sarma, quit their jobs to start their own hospital. By 2011/12, the company they set up to run it, North Eastern Medical Research Institute Ltd, had a turnover of Rs 11.75 crore.
At the start, banks refused them loans outright. "We went around begging from our friends and relatives, who put in sums of Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000, or so," says Dr Goswami, 53. But it all added up, enabling them to set up a tiny hospital with eight beds. All the 945 people who contributed - retired government officials, small businessmen, and teachers - became shareholders in the company.
As it happened, a patient treated for a hip bone fracture offered to sell Dr Goswami and Dr Sarma his land to build a bigger hospital. Today, Arya Hospital, as it is called, has 100 beds. What sets it apart, Goswami maintains, is its emphasis on quality treatment and complete transparency in financial dealings.