Born in 1954, Dr. Digpal Dharkar is a postgraduate from the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, where he trained for about 8 years doing junior residency, senior residency as well as fellowships, under Dr. DJ Jussawalla.
Thereafter, he went abroad for a couple of years on 5 international fellowships in head and neck cancer (Switzerland, U.K., Netherlands, France and U.S.A.). The grueling training under Dr. Guy Schwaab at Institut Gustave Roussy Paris and Prof. Gordon Snow at Free University Hospital Amsterdam was followed by a fellowship under Dr. Jatin P Shah at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. This tutelage has had a lasting impact on the conceptualization, development and growth of the Indian Institute of Head and Neck Oncology in Indore.
In July 1988, he started surgical oncology practice in Indore and has since performed more than 12 000 surgeries of which 30% were done free. His free super major cancer surgeries, also include major operations at district hospitals, a step that not only helps the poorest of the poor but also helps train the doctors stationed there, resulting in capacity enhancement in the far-flung rural areas of the region.
In 1994, he was awarded a fellowship from the Government of India to visit Russia for training in laser surgery. On French Government invitation, he made several visits to French cancer institutes. The Gandhi Foundation, Belgium, invited him as speaker at an international seminar on health care opportunities in India.
Dr Dharkar has received the 1st Padma Bhushan Prof SK Mukherjee Award 1999 for dedication and commitment in the field of medicine, pertaining to cancer; as well the Madhya Pradesh Gaurav Award 2002 and in this series recently, the Dainik Bhaskar instituted Madhya Pradesh Pride Award 2014 for excellence in health service.
He was one of five doctors from the Asia Pacific Region to be selected for the Asia Pacific Award (APCASOT) by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), Geneva, in the year 2002.
In July 2009, the then President of India, Smt. Pratibha Patil presented a citation to Dr. Digpal Dharkar at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. This was in recognition of his guidance and support to the Amravati Cancer Foundation, which has been developed on the lines of the Indore Cancer Foundation.
The Nargis Dutt Foundation of New York gave Dr. Dharkar the "Life Time Service Achievement" award in September 2011 at New York.
He has been associated with the Indore Cancer Foundation as its Honorary Secretary since its inception in December 1988. He has attended most of the camps for awareness generation, detection, training and surgery organized by the Foundation in the rural areas of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, UP, Rajasthan and Gujarat. He finds the rural outreach programmes rejuvenating and feels at home in any village