Not much is available about AMC’s founder Dr. D L N Murti Rao on their website or in their annual reports. The current staff, many of whom did have the opportunity to work with him, shared a few tidbits of how and why he started AMC.
In 1960, the need for such a service was highlighted when a parents/family/society brought children with mental retardation to the All India Institute of Mental Health (currently NIMHANS, Bangalore), saying that they were mentally ill. This lead Dr. D L N Murti Rao, then director of NIMHANS, to set up such the organization. In the initial phase, it started as a bi-weekly clinic in two rooms, catering to a handful of children and his wife, Ms. Saroja, as the only volunteer. With time, his colleagues, doctors and psychologists also helped in running the clinic. As Dr. Pakadi says, “Since AMC is 52 year old organization, the founder is no more. Often we wonder that if one fine morning if he walks into AMC would he be satisfied with what all we are trying to do; would he see his dreams have realized?”
In 1962, it was registered as a Society under the name The Association for the Mentally Handicapped (AMH). The name was changed according to international trends to The Association for the Mentally Challenged in the mid 90s. In 1963, one acre of land was granted to them by the Karnataka Government near NIMHANS. That’s when they constructed the section where the present building currently stands. While AMC has grown to support 200 children, adolescents and adults today, the link with NIMHANs continues. They get assistance and cooperation in all areas, such as assessment, consultation and guidance from them.
AMC is the first institution that was set up in Karnataka for intellectually challenged people. It is also the second national level institution serving this group of people. From the start, AMC’s strength has been its committed staff and the large group of highly committed professionals and volunteers. This has helped it offer its services free of cost – an important feature as 90% of its beneficiaries hail from low income group families. However, there is a pressing need to expand its services as recent estimates put the figure of intellectually and developmentally disabled at 30,000 in a population of 80 lakhs in urban Bangalore. And the city has facilities to cater to only 5% or 1,500 of them currently.