Five Indian doctors are currently in Hebei province in central China recreating the journey of Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis, fondly remembered as Dr. Kotnis to both the Indians and Chinese. The five doctors — ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialists from Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Bangalore — will spend 10 days in China providing free treatment in the same Hebei villages where Dr. Kotnis made his name. This year marks the 100th birth anniversary of his journey to China.
A household name in China just as in India, Dr. Kotnis and four other contemporaries arrived in Hebei province in 1938, on the request of Jawaharlal Nehru to help Chinese troops during the Japanese invasion. Even though Dr. Kotnis never made it back to India, he is revered by both nations for his bravery and compassion to the people he treated.
“Dr. Kotnis has been a symbol of friendship between India and China for many years, and through this mission, we want to keep his message alive,” Wong Tong, director of the Asia-Africa Department of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the organisation which conducted this second China-India Joint Medical Mission told The Hindu.
Reigniting ties, in the memory of Dr. Kotnis, the five Indian doctors will conduct free ENT camps, deafness prevention and detection activities, and distribute hearing aids in Hebei’s villages and towns. They will be accompanied by five doctors from Shijiazhuang, where Dr. Kotnis spent most of his time in China treating wounded soldiers. They will begin their journey in Gegong village in Tangxian County, where Dr. Kotnis spent the last days of his life.
Barring the past few decades wherein China and India have maintained sweet n sour ties, Sino-Indian relations have been very strong. Our culture and mannerisms being similar, spiritual leaders, doctors, poets and businessmen have all been part of a healthy China-India exchange. As the world turns back to watch China and India re-emerge, it is time we reignite these ties of kinship.