Doctor's inspiring legacy given a fresh take

China Daily
Wang Xinjuan
2021-10-13 16:10:21
Visitors pay tribute to Dwarkanath Kotnis at a martyrs' cemetery in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province. ZHAI YUJIA/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Tribute from Mao

Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong was deeply affected by the doctor's death, writing in his eulogy: "The army has lost a helping hand, the nation has lost a friend. Let us always bear in mind his internationalist spirit."

In China, Kotnis fell in love, marrying Guo Qinglan, a nurse who worked with him and who gave birth to their son less than four months before the doctor's death.

The boy was named Yinhua-the two Chinese characters literally meaning "India" and "China." However, he died in 1967 age 24 as a result of medical malpractice, shortly before he was due to graduate from medical college.

Nearly eight decades after the doctor's death, memories of him are still cherished in China.

Apart from a school named after him-Shijiazhuang Ke Dihua Medical Science Secondary Specialized School-there are memorials to him in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, and in Tangxian county, where he once worked.

Dwarkanath Kotnis is so highly respected in China that when the nation's leaders travel to India, they make a point of visiting or sending flowers to his relatives.

Jadhav, from the Dr Kotnis Memorial Committee, fondly recalls the day Premier Li Keqiang met Kotnis' family on May 22, 2013, during a visit to India. Over a cup of tea, Li chatted with Manorama, Kotnis' nonagenarian sister.

"She was visibly touched by the warmth displayed by the Chinese premier," said Jadhav, who received the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence Friendship Award from Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014 in recognition of his commitment to Sino-Indian friendship.

In 2006, President Hu Jintao met the doctor's relatives, including his two sisters. He paid tribute to the medic, describing him as "a bridge between China and India", according to government records.

The sacrifices and bravery shown by the doctor during his time in China continue to inspire his family members, as well as Indian medics, filmmakers and numerous other admirers.

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