India, China revive ties in medicine in memory of KotnisDecember 3rd, 2008 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) The black-and-white 1946 Bollywood classic “Dr.Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani” starring V. Shantaram still evokes nostalgic memories. In a country that does not easily open doors to outsiders, Dwarkanath Santharam Kotnis, a young Indian doctor, was a true Chinese citizen and martyr at heart - who died for the cause of Chinese liberation.
Kotnis arrived in China as part of the Indian Medical Team in 1938 to treat victims of the Chinese War of Liberation. Seven decades down the line, India and China are reviving the mission to open a new chapter in bilateral relationship - shared health.
As part of a memorandum of understanding signed between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries in January 2008, a delegation of 10 Chinese doctors arrived in India to study the Indian healthcare system and exchange ideas.
The project, titled India-China Joint Medical Mission, will allow the Chinese doctors to tour the Apollo Hospitals, rural medicine centres and the city of Chandigarh.
Launched by Karan Singh, president of the ICCR in the capital Tuesday, the mission, though symbolic, will have a greater outreach than any other bilateral projects between the two Asian giants.
“Historical ties between India and China date back to the early Buddhist period when Buddhist scholars came to India to study at the universities and scholars from India visited China. However, several years of western dominance had weakened the ties which both the countries are now trying to restore,” Karan Singh said.
He said the young Chinese doctors will be able to see the state of Indian healthcare services for themselves - even in the villages where it needs special attention.
“The initiative taken by the Prime Ministers of both the country during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China in January, will usher in a new era in cooperation,” he said.
A delegation of 10 Indian doctors also visited China in January - and toured all the landmarks associated with Kotnis.
According to S. Anuradha, professor of medicine at the Maulana Azad Medical College in the capital, who visited China in January, Indian and Chinese medical experts could collaborate in education and exchange ideas.
“China has several institutes of higher medicine, but the healthcare is not subsidised by the government. People have to buy their own medicines and pay hospital bills,” she said.
Recounting the popularity of Kotnis in China, Anuradha said the Indian doctor was “more revered in China than in India with several landmarks like hospitals and parks named after him.”
Kotnis, who became involved in the resistance against Japanese occupation of China and even began strategising with Chairman Mao Zedong on how to take on the occupation forces inside the territories overrun by Japan, died of hardships of army life at the age of 32.
He married a local Chinese woman Gua Qinglan and had a son Yinhua. Both mother and son have travelled to India to meet their relatives after the doctor’s death and several Chinese leaders have visited Kotnis’ relatives in Mumbai.
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