Known in China, little known beyond (2) - Dwarkanath Kotnis 柯棣华
𝘐𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳’𝘴 𝘊𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢, 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘭-𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯 𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥-𝘶𝘱 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘺 (1921) 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦’𝘴 𝘙𝘦𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢 (1949) 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘴 “𝘒𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢, 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘣𝘦𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘥”
No single Indian has been more revered by Chinese people than a doctor, born from a middle class family in northern India more than 110 years ago, 𝗗𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗮𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗵 𝗞𝗼𝘁𝗻𝗶𝘀 柯棣华 (1910-1942) came to China as a volunteer in an Indian physician team to provide medical assistance during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938. He first worked in Yan'an and then went to the anti-Japanese base area in North China where he acted as the physician-in-charge of the surgical department of the Eighth Route Army General Hospital.
He is remembered for his heroism, tireless persistence and human dedication as a battlefront doctor. In one long-drawn out battle against Japanese troops in 1940, Dr. Kotnis performed operations for up to 72 hours, without getting any sleep. He treated more than 800 wounded soldiers during the battle.
Dwarkanath Kotnis joined the Communist Party of China in July of 1942 and after the renowned 𝗗𝗿. 𝗡𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝗵𝘂𝗻𝗲 passed away, he took over the post of the first president of the Bethune International Peace Hospital.
Dwarkanath Kotnis married Guo Qinglan in 1941 and they got one son in 1942. The hardship as a front-line doctor unfortunately took its toll and a series of epileptic seizures was fatal to him on 9 December 1942. He is buried at the Huabei Junqu Martyrs' Cemetery in Shijiazhuang, #Hebei Province, the same grounds where Dr. Norman Bethune is buried.
Upon his death in 1942, Chairman Mao Zedong mourned him by observing that: "The army has lost a helping hand, the nation has lost a friend. Let us always bear in mind his internationalist spirit." He continues to be revered every year by the Chinese people during the Qingming Festival, a day to commemorate ancestors and martyrs. The Chinese government continues to honour his relatives in India during every high-level official trip up till today. His relatives (primarily sisters) were visited in Mumbai by among others Premier Zhou En-Lai (1950) and Presidents Hu Jintao (2006) and Xi Jinping (2014).
He is remembered and tributed both in China and India, and movies made were made about his life in both countries.
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