Fact Box: Dr. Dwarakanath Kotnis

Chinese PM to meet the relatives of Dwarakanath Kotnis during India visit

Dwarakanath KotnisKeeping the tradition alive, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who will be visiting India in coming days, will have a special meeting with an Indian family- a tradition which every visiting Premiers and Presidents have been following for decades. He will meet with the relatives of Dr Dwarakanath Kotnis, an Indian doctor who is heartily remembered in China for his service during the second Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945). The Chinese commemorated the memory of Dr Kotnis, who died at the age of 32 in 1942, with a statue in the Martyr’s Memorial Park in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province.

Who was Dr Dwarakanath Kotnis?

Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis was one of five Indian physicians dispatched to China to provide medical assistance during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938. Besides being known for his dedication and perseverance, he has also been regarded as an example for Sino-Indian friendship and collaboration.

Background:

In 1937, after the Japanese invasion of China, the communist General Zhu De requested Jawaharlal Nehru to send Indian physicians to China. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the President of the Indian National Congress, made arrangements to send a team of volunteer doctors and an ambulance by collecting a fund of Rs 22,000 on the All-Indian China Day and China Fund days on July 7–9.

Dr. Kotnis was one among the medical team of five doctors which was dispatched as the Indian Medical Mission Team in September 1938. He stayed in China for almost 5 years working in mobile clinics to treat wounded soldiers. In 1939, Kotnis finally joined the Eighth Route Army (led by Mao Zedong) at the Jin-Cha-Ji border near the Wutai Mountain Area, after his efforts all across the northern China region. The hardships of suppressed military life, stresses that were especially relevant to the front-line doctors who often had to work over 72 hours at a stretch, finally began to tell on him. He died of epilepsy in 1942 at age 32, and was buried in the Heroes Courtyard, Nanquan Village. All other physicians returned to India safely.

The life of Dr Kotnis also made it to cinema in a 1946 film directed by V. Shantaram-Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahaani.

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Categories: International Current Affairs 2017Persons in News 2017

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