Manorama, last surviving sibling of Dwarkanath Kotnis, dead

Mumbai, July 3 (IANS) Manorama S. Kotnis, a sister of the legendary medico and doyen of India-China friendship, the late Dwarkanath S. Kotnis, has died in her Mumbai suburban home, a family member said here on Friday. She was 94.

The last of eight surviving siblings of Dr. Kotnis, she breathed her last late Thursday night at her Vile Parle residence, said her 92-year old cousin Shrikant Kotnis.

The funeral rites were performed at a crematorium here on Friday morning, said former Congress legislator Krishna Hegde.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had met and felicitated her at a function in New Delhi in September, 2014 during his visit to India and conferred her with the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence Friendship Award.

Manorama, a nutritionist by profession, had worked with the state government in the past.

Continuing the tradition of all top Chinese leaders who visit India, Chinese President Xi had met her in the capital and felicitated her there.

A year before in 2013, visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also had an emotional audience with Manorama in Mumbai and he enquired after her health.

He had recalled how China still fondly remembers Dwarkanath Kotnis’ service to his countrymen during the crises following the Japanese aggression on that country during 1937-45, the Second World War period.

Keqiang’s meeting took place in 2013 – the platinum jubilee of the medical team comprising the 28-year old Kotnis, a medical graduate from Mumbai, which had travelled to China in September 1938.

Chinese leaders have always extolled Kotnis and spoke glowingly of how he is still regarded as a strong symbol of Sino-Indian friendship, how the country has honoured him by keeping his memories as a legendary hero alive through different monuments and memorabilia.

In the past, members of the Kotnis family have met former premier Zhou En-Lai in 1950, and later in 1996 President Jiang Zemin had sent flowers to them.

Premier Li Peng came a calling in 2001, then in 2002 Premier Zhu Rongji, in 2006 President Hu Jintao and in 2014 President Ji Xinping met the family.

Similarly, most family members of the Kotnis clan have been regular state guests in China for various functions, awards and honours over the past many decades.

Three year ago, Kotnis’ widow Guo Qinglan passed away in China and his second sister Vatsala expired in India the same year (2012). Both died due to old age.

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