Guest of honour: Chinese Premier to meet Kotnis kin today
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It's a proud moment for us and a rare honour being bestowed upon the family and my brother," said 92-year-old Manorama Kotnis, Dr Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis's sister, who will meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday.
Dr Kotnis, considered an icon of Sino-Indian friendship and collaboration, was part of a five-member Indian medical aid mission that was sent to China when the Japanese attacked the country in the late 1930s. The devotion with which he served the Chinese is evident from a scroll, which is a prized possession of the family. "...He cured the wounded and saved many of our comrades from death. He will live forever in the hearts of the revolutionary Chinese people (Mao Tse Tung)", the scroll reads.
Dr Kotnis, who was 28 when he went to China, was born in Solapur, Maharashtra. His house there was converted into a memorial hall in January 2012.
"In 2006, we met the then President Hu Jintao. We are overwhelmed that even after so many years, my brother is remembered and loved by the Chinese and that Premier Keqiang is taking pains to meet us," said Manorama, who currently resides in Vile Parle (East). "I have been to China at least four times and each time, I was received with a lot of respect and warmth," she added.
Five members of the family — Manorama, Dr Sanika Jain (granddaughter of Dr Kotnis's elder brother), Dr Abhay Jain (Sanika's husband), Dr Shalmali Borkar (Sanika's younger sister) and Dr Kishore Khot (grandson of Dr Kotnis's younger sister) — are scheduled to meet Keqiang Tuesday afternoon at a south Mumbai hotel.
"Last time, too, I got the opportunity to meet President Jintao. Back then, it felt like any other close family gathering and it was sharing of love, respect and the work he had done for the Chinese. Dr Kotnis is immortalised in China in their textbooks. There are statues, hospitals in his name and a postal stamp in his honour in China. The Chinese have done a lot to keep his memory alive in China," said Sanika.