LT Gen Har­baksh Singh 1913-1999


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Mother Teresa has be­come an eter­nal sym­bol, a mo­tif – a wiz­ened, ema­ci­ated old lady in a white, un­starched sa­ree with a blue bor­der, head cov­ered, qui­etly go­ing about her mis­sion and bring­ing suc­cour to the poor­est of the poor. Af­ter the highly rec­og­niz­able pen stroke of Gandhi with round glasses and walk­ing stick. Mother Teresa’s out­lined vis­age with the sa­ree draped over the head is the most iden­ti­fi­able. Of Al­ba­nian de­scent, Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bo­jax­hiu in Skopje. Mace­do­nia on Au­gust 27, 1910. At the age of twelve, she strongly felt the call of the God. At 18, she joined the Sis­ters of Loreto, an Ir­ish com­mu­nity of nuns with mis­sions in In­dia. Af­ter a few months train­ing in Dublin, she was sent to In­dia where she took her ini­tial vows as a nun on May 24, 1931. From 1931 to 1948, Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary’s High School in Kolkata. But the suf­fer­ing and poverty she saw out­side the con­vent walls made such a deep im­pres­sion on her that in 1948 she got per­mis­sion from her su­pe­ri­ors to de­vote her­self to work among the poor in the slums of Kolkata. She started a school and soon she was joined by vol­un­tary helpers and fi­nan­cial sup­port was also forth­com­ing. On Oc­to­ber 7, 1950, Mother Teresa re­ceived per­mis­sion from the Holy See to start her own order “The Mis­sion­ar­ies of Char­ity” whose pri­mary task was to love and care for peo­ple no­body was pre­pared to look af­ter. The So­ci­ety be­came an In­ter­na­tional Re­li­gious Fam­ily by a de­cree of Pope Paul VI in 1965. The So­ci­ety of Mis­sion­ar­ies had spread all over the world and by 1990s there were over one mil­lion co­work­ers in more than 40 coun­tries in­clud­ing the former Soviet Union and East Euro­pean coun­tries. They pro­vide help to the poor in Asia. Africa and Latin Amer­ica and also un­der­take re­lief work in the wake of nat­u­ral catas­tro­phes such as floods, epi­demics and famine. The order also has fa­cil­i­ties in North Amer­ica. Europe and Aus­tralia where they take care of the al­co­holics, home­less and AIDS suf­fer­ers. Mother Teresa’s work has been rec­og­nized the world over and she has re­ceived a num­ber of awards and dis­tinc­tions. They in­clude the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971). Nehru Prize for her pro­mo­tion of in­ter­na­tional peace and un­der­stand­ing (1972), the Balzan Prize (1979), the Tem­ple­ton Award, the Magsaysay Award and the No­bel Peace Prize (1979).

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