Come September, and we have been used to expecting to come across an announcement of the annual gala of Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation. A much awaited signature event of the Foundation for 31 years, it has not seen the light of the day for the last 3 years.
Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation, a dream of late Nargis Dutt and her husband Sunil Dutt, has served cancer patients in India for 34 years now. It was founded in 1981 in the city of the world-New York. It has been a long but satisfying journey for the organization that has believed with Albert Schweitzer, a German theologian, philosopher, and physician that “There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.”
During the period between 1982 and 2013, the NDMF completed 57 projects valued at more than 5 million dollars, sponsored Indian doctors for specialized training in treatment of cancer in prestigious Medical Institutes in the US and recognized excellence of scores of achievers and contributors.The introduction to the Foundation, as carried out, in a Foundation brochure reads: “Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation was established in 1981 in memory of Nargis Dutt, a famous Bollywood movie star of India. She gave numerous memorable performances in movies including Mother India, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1957. She was a very caring human being whose dream was to see that the best available medical care can also be provided to under privileged and needy people in India.
“While undergoing specialized medical treatment in New York for cancer, Mrs. Dutt articulated her dream and repeatedly expressed her regret that the medical care that she was able to receive was unavailable in her Motherland. Her deep concern for the sick and disabled led her to set definite goals towards making improved medical services available to the poorest in India. She already had considerable work to her credit in rehabilitation, and education of handicapped children in India. Unfortunately, she did not live long enough to see the evolution of her dream. After her demise, her husband Sunil Dutt established the Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation and through various projects worked to keep Nargis Dutt’s dream alive.”
And, after Sunil Dutt’s demise on 25 May, 2005, his illustrious daughter Priya Dutt took upon herself the responsibility of guiding the destiny of an organization that has become synonymous with the late Dutts and cancer.
During the period between 1982 and 2013, the NDMF has completed 57 projects valued at more than 5 million dollars, sponsored Indian doctors for specialized training in treatment of cancer in prestigious Medical Institutes in the US and recognized excellence of scores of achievers and contributors.
It will be of interest to our readers to know as to how the idea of forming NDMF came up. In 1981 Nargis Dutt who was suffering from pancreatic cancer was treated at Sloane Kettering Institute in New York. In spite of best efforts of doctors and the loving care of her husband, Sunil Dutt, cancer ultimately snuffed life out of the legendary cine artist.
According to the information given by one of the nine founding members, Mr. Inder Bindra, Sunil Dutt had come to New York in April/May, 1981 to settle the bill for Nargis Dutt’s treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. They were together in the Bahamas when the idea of forming Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation came to their mind. It was later that he, along with 8 other persons with philanthropic disposition (some of whom have since withdrawn or have migrated to the other world) held a meeting with Sunil Dutt and discussed the issue of forming the organization.
Sunil Dutt felt mightily pleased and said he was obliged for the offer to form Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation. Thus, the embryonic idea took a shape in 1981. And soon, the first formal meeting took place in the month of May, 1981 itself. The NDMF was registered as 501-C 3 Not-for Profit corporation on 25th February, 1982. Ranjit Ghura and Russel Rosen in Wall Street who was the attorney helped in the formation of the corporation.
There were nine incorporating members-Nicole Beattie, Inderjit S. Bindra, Edward Beattie, M. D., Shashi Patel, M. D., Suresh Patel, Jas Ghura, Amar Jit Singh, M. D., Bhupendra R. Patel, M. D., and Manu Savani.
Readers would have understood by now what a great difference the community can make by coming together and working together for a cause.
Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation has been doing a great service in the cause of fighting the dreaded disease of cancer. Over the last thirty plus years, the Foundation attracted the generosity of a number of good Samaritans and funded a number of projects to provide treatment to cancer patients in India. The Foundation has become a household name in the Indian American community of New York. It is viewed as an example of what good to community the good people can do together.
One wonders why such a fine institution, raised with much effort and a lot of love for suffering humanity by many visionaries, filled with milk of human kindness, and philanthropists, including late Sunil Dutt who founded it, is being destroyed by some, including a few who were amongst the founders.
Put simply, the ego clashes are responsible for destruction of a dream for providing the much needed succor to the needy for cancer treatment in India and, for the loss of a fine institution. The question is: should the community sit back indifferently and watch helplessly a few selfish egoists destroying the fine institution nurtured with sweat and blood of many over the last more than 30 years? Should the people who contributed generously their valuable earnings to the formidable growth of Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation allow a few rogues to let their precious dollars be wasted? Should the community not take note of these arrogant “masters” of the Foundation and refuse to recognize them and boycott them socially?
Let the community take a stand and send stern warning to the wayward egoists that the community will not permit the institutions built with people’s efforts and money to become a battlefield of selfish rogues.
Let the community wake up to its rights and its powers. I will go a step further and call upon the Indian American community to arraign the erring guys to the people’s court.
Dear Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation Board Members, please do not allow the Foundation to crumble in a fratricidal conflict for posts and positions. Take it as a warning from the community that if you do not mend your ways, the community will deal sternly with you. Choice is yours. And, remember, better now than later.