Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis (1910-1942)
One of the five Indian physicians dispatched to China to provide medical assistance during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938, Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis is known by the Chinese people as Ke Dihua and remembered for his dedication and perseverance that left a brilliant footnote to China-India friendship. Along with the Canadian Dr. Norman Bethune, he continues to be revered
n d by the Chinese people many years after his death. The docto r loved China so much that he named his son, born amidst the war flames of 1942, after his adopted nation. Born to a middle class Marathi family in Solapur, Maharashtra, he studied medicine at the University of Bombay. The 28-year-old Doctor landed in the war-inflicted China and stayed in China for almost 5 years working in extremely stressful conditions in mobile clinics. In one long-drawn out battle against Japanese troops in 1940, Dr. Kotnis performed operations for up to 72 hours without getting any sleep. In 1940, he met Guo Qinglan, a nurse at the Bethune Hospital. They got married a year later. Only three months after the birth of his son, a series of epileptic seizures killed the doctor on 9 December 1942.
Dwarkanath Kotnis is commemorated together with Dr. Bethune, and Scottish missionary and athlete, Eric Liddell in the Martyrs' Memorial Park in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China. The entire south wing of the memorial is dedicated to Dr. Kotnis, where there is a great statue in his honour. A small museum there contains a handbook of vocabulary that Kotnis wrote on his passage from India to China, some of the instruments that the surgeons used in their medical fight for life, and various photos of the doctors, some with the Communist Party of China's most influential figures, including Mao Zedong. The story of his life was the subject of a 1946 Hindi film and a Chinese film with the screenplay by Huang Zongjiang.