China to unveil statue of Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis, the most celebrated Indian doctor in China


China is set to unveil a bronze statue of Indian doctor Dwarkanath Kotnis, one of five Indian physicians dispatched to China for medical assistance during the second Sino-Japanese war in 1938. Solapur-born Dr Kotnis, who also lived in Vengurla, is revered by the Chinese. His status and memorials were also set in some of the Chinese cities in recognition of his services.

Late Chinese leader Mao Zedong had praised his medical assistance during the difficult days of the Chinese revolution.

Kotnis’ death deeply affected Zedong. He wrote in his eulogy that “the army has lost a helping hand, the nation has lost a friend. Let us always bear in mind his internationalist spirit.” 

The statue would be unveiled outside a medical school in North China next month, according to the official media.

Dr Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis, went to China in 1938, as part of a five-member team of doctors, sent by the Indian National Congress to help the Chinese during World War II.

Dr Kotnis joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in July 1942 and died in the same year on December 9, at the age of 32.

He got married to a Chinese national, Guo Qinglan, in December 1941. She died in 2012.

Apart from the school named after him as the ‘Shijiazhuang Ke Dihua Medical Science Secondary Specialised School,’ there are memorials of Kotnis in both Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, and Tangxian county where he once worked.

China also made a movie on Dr Kotnis in 1982, called “Dr DS Kotnis.”

According to an official of the school, Liu Wenzhu, 45,000 medical professionals have graduated from the school since its foundation in 1992.

Wenzhu said that every student and staff must swear in front of a stone statue of Kotnis that they would work like him.

He hopes that Kotnis will be remembered not only as a symbol inspiring medical students to work hard, but also as an eternal bond between the people of China and India.

“We are the world’s two most populous countries. We should always be friends, coexisting peacefully,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

The bronze statue of Kotnis, known in China as Ke Dihua, would be formally unveiled at the medical school at Shijiazhuang in September, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

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