Norman Bethune Medical Services

About Dr.Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis

Dr. D.S.Kotnis - An Icon of India China Friendship and International solidarity

Dr.Dwarakanath Shantaram kotnis, the most revered Indian in China is aptly described as " a bridge between China and India".

Dr. D.S. kotnis was born in Sholapur , Maharashtra, India on 10th October , 1910. He died on 9 th of December , 1942 at the age of thirty two in Gegong village of Tangxian country , Hebei province of China. What happened in between is the story of an ordinary person metamorphosed into an immortal.

Dr.kotnis is a legendary hero to more than one billion Chinese, who call him Dr. Ke Di Hua. He was born to Shri Shantaram and Smt. Sita, in a large lower middle class family. He was the second child amongst two brothers and five sisters and was lovingly called "baba". He had grown up seeing several activities of anti-british colonial rule in India, imbibing the spirit of the movements for national independence. He had graduated from G.S. Medical college of the university of Bombay in 1936 facing many hardships.

Young Kotnis was influenced by the story of Father Damien, a Belgian medical missionary , who had sacrificed his life caring for and looking after lepers on the island of Molokai in Hawai. During the Process Father Damien Succumbed to leprosy but refuced to get himself treated if it meant Leaving the islands and giving up his mission. Brushing aside the Proposals for marriage , starting a private professional carrer or entering Postgraduate studies , Dr. kotnis volunteered to join a Medical team of five doctors that was sent to China to Provide medical assistance during the 2nd Sino-japanese War in 1938. The team of five doctors comprised of Dr. M .Atal , Dr.B.k.Basu,Dr.M.Cholkar, Dr.D.Mukherji and Dr.kotnis. While other doctors of the team returned to India, Dr. kotnis remained there to render his services and later became an icon in china . The steamer taking the Indian Medical Mission to China sailed from Bombay on 2nd September 1938. Kotnis started learning the Chinese script and imparting physical training to the members of the Mission. On board he read with fascination Edgar Snow's-Red Star Over China particularly about the epic 'Long March' and the life at the revolutionary bases of the Red Army.

Dr. kotnis stayed there for four years, working in mobile clinics to treat wounded Chinese soilders . Initially , the Mission has ties with the Kuominatang . But shortly they left the ignominious so-called nationalist force and proceeded to red yenan ,where Eighth Route Army was fighting a fierce battle against Japanese and had a large number of war casualties. In 1939 he joined the Eighth route army, led by Mao Zedong at the jin chaji border near the wutai mountain area. He provided Medical aid to thousands of soilders and conducted more than eight hundred major operations .

Dr. kotnis was made "The Charge de Affairs' of Norman Bethune Hospital and Medical School . The instituted later evolved as the international Peace Hospital with Dr. kotnis as the Director on assuming the post as Director of The International Peace Hospital , after the death of Dr.Norman Bethune, kotnis closely studied Chairman Mao's book, "In Memory of Norman Bethune ,", Which inspired him and established guiding principals for the orientation of the Hospital . "Rescue the dying , heal the wounded, practice revolutionary humanitarianism, do not yield to outdated conventions and refrain from being exclusive of conservative." Dr. kotnis fervently implemented a slogon launched by Dr. Norman Bethune -" Doctors! Go The Wounded. Do not wait for them to come to you". In a very short time , kotnis developed enough proficiency in spoken Chinese and also developed a keen interest in chinese life and culture . This led to his marriage with Guo Qinglan , a nursing instructor in the International Peace Hospital . They had a son Yin Hua,which means India and China.

To meet the demands of the war situation, Dr.kotnis had to work ceaselessly and lead a life full of difficulties and hardships. Huge workload , excruciating stress coupled with lack of rest and nutrition , ultimately had a telling effect on his health. He rejected the suggestion that he should go back to India or Hong Kong and take treatment for his illness. He was not willing to go , leaving the responsibilities for the battle front ,that he was entrusted with, just like Father Damien. He continued to work in the foot-steps of Dr. Norman Bethune. He developed an ever increasing identity with the communist party of china and became a member of the party in 1942. Dr. kotnis felt it has the highest honour in his life.

His involvement was increasing manifold and he started writing a surgical instructions book for the army in Chinese language . The untrining job ultimately led to the ultimately death of Dr.kotnis. He died of epilepsy on 9th December 1942 and was buried in the heroes courtyard in Nanquan village.

The Chinese people , determined to win the war of resistance against Japan and consolidate their hold on the country , were keenly interested in heroes with revolutionary and popular fervor coupled with traditional virtues of loyalty, determination, sagacity and bravery.

Dr.Bethune and later Dr.kotnis were so recognized by the humble peasants ,the fighting soldiers and great leaders like Zhu De, Zhou Enlai and MaoZedong.