Sunday, October 19, 2008
A Tribute to Greatness
It was through chance that I stumbled upon this blog, and eventually came across a blog dedicated to Dr. Chandrakant Patil, a resident doctor from King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. Dr. Patil, who was born and brought up in Maharashtra, volunteered to go to Bihar to help the flood victims. He was present at one the worst affected areas, where he tragically died due to electrocution from a lightning strike in a freak storm, on September 24th, 2008. He was a part of a team of 45 student doctors from Mumbai who traveled all the way to Bihar to help out their fellow Indians. In times like these, when relations between Marathis and Biharis is at an ebb, this was like a breath of fresh air. His sacrifice is a resounding slap on the face of all the regionalists and is a reminder that we are Indians, first and foremost. This great man undid in a flash what the “son-of-soil” leader of all Manoos’s did to me over a few months. I am heart-broken at the loss of this true son-of-the-soil and a genuine patriot. I am happy because he restored my faith in my fellow Indians from Maharashtra. I am incensed because I did not get to hear about him through the media. He was only 24 years of age.
I noticed a very disturbing change in me, over the past few months. The mere mention of Maharashtra or Marathi made me uncomfortable. While buying a product, I have a habit of checking the expiry date, and in doing so often, one comes across the place where the product was manufactured. For instance, I bought a pack of Lays, saw that it was made in Gurgaon, shrugged nonchalantly and went ahead with whatever I was doing. Of lately, whenever that place was in Maharashtra, that nonchalance disappeared. It made me think twice. And though it did not deter me and never will from buying such a product, but the very fact that I was deliberate was bad enough. A few days ago, my friends and I ordered a bucketful of chicken from KFC. When the delivery boy came, one of my friends started chatting with him. I was all smiles, a silent observer of the innocuous banter, but it vanished as soon as I learned that he was from Kolhapur. It was an awkward moment for me. But all that angst is going away, and the credit goes to Dr. Patil. The healing process is initiated, and all I have to do is think about him, if I start losing it again.
This country does not need leaders who unveil statues of themselves at the state’s expense, but we do need a memorial for heroes like him. Amidst all the chaos of divisiveness contributed by regionalism, religion and caste, this man’s sacrifice is the proverbial silver lining. The media should splash his face all over, let the 1.12 billion people know, that there was a Giant like him amongst all the pygmies that we usually catch on TV. But, I guess it’s overly optimistic of me to expect something like the aforementioned in a nation whose rulers could not spare time to pay homage to a legend like Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw. When Dr. Patil’s image could have been used as to tool for national integration, I almost missed out on hearing about him. Thank you One Bihar. And Long Live Dr. Chandrakant Patil.
For those who would like to help out his family, here’s the link to do so.
Edited to add : Another ray of Hope , Dr Manasee Palshikar . May her tribe increase .