Sunderlal Patwa, ‘Doctor Dadi’ among Padma awardees from Madhya Pradesh

BHOPAL/INDORE: Former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Sunderlal Patwa, is being awarded India’s second-highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, posthumously, while Indore’s first women MBBS, 91-year-old Bhakti Yadav — loved as ‘Doctor Dadi’ — will be conferred the Padma Shri award this year.

The former CM’s nephew Surendra Patwa, who is minister-of-state for tourism in the MP government, said Patwa was incorruptible and uncompromising on issues of ideology. “He worked for social causes during his long political career. He not only helped speed up development of the state but also tried to help every individual through his policies and welfare programmes,” he said, recalling that the former CM was always careful about “maintaining his dignity and morality”.

He started as a social worker at the tender age of 19 and continued to do so till he breathed his last on December 28 last year. The Padma award is an honour for the state and the family, said the minister. Patwa’s contribution to the erstwhile Jana Sangh, which later turned into BJP, is significant. He played a key role in BJP’s transition from an opposition party to a ruling one. His personal battles, rooted in a hard, uncompromising Sangh ideology, opened the path for a more pragmatic, political face for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh.

Dr Yadav has been offering free treatment for 68 years and is loved for her close bond with patients. Born on April 3, 1926, in Mahidpur town of Ujjain, she became the first woman doctor in Indore when she passed out with MGM Medical College’s first batch in 1948. Early in her career, she refused a government job and joined Nandlal Bhandari Maternity Home for the wives of poor cloth mill workers. She headed the home for decades before starting a nursing home in Pardeshipura.

The gynaecologist has delivered thousands of babies without charging any fee from patients who come to her from far off places, including Gujarat and Rajasthan. At 91, Dr Yadav is physically weak but continues to serve the poor. Her last wish is to “keep serving people until her last breath”.
“Today’s doctors examine patients and treat them, but I have not seen many using their heart to develop a relationship with patients. This personal touch is lacking among many doctors,” Dr Yadav said.
While the medical profession now relies heavily on technology for diagnosis, Dr Yadav still believes in and practices contemporary medicine. “Her hand is like a sonography machine. Her diagnosis is impeccable,” said her son Dr Chetan Yadav.

Dr Yadav was examining patients till two months ago, when she fell down and suffered fractures. Now bedridden, she said she never yearned for awards. “I am happy that everyone is happy (after the announcement of the award). What is important is that people get benefited by my actions,” she said.