Community must save Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation from decay

I.S. Saluja

All is not well with Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation. Yes, there is no misprint here. You are reading it right. Reports are trickling in that there is a vertical split in the Board of Members on the issue of the election of Dr. Prem Goel as President. It is being alleged by some that Dr. Goel was not eligible to seek election and, yet, he was allowed to contest.

Dr. Goel’s supporters deny the allegation. The tussle is continuing to the point of loss of a fine institution, given to a noble charitable cause of helping cancer patients in India. Let me give The Indian Panorama readers vital information about the origin and work of Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation. Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation, a dream of late Nargis Dutt and her husband Sunil Dutt, has served cancer patients in India for 33 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 would wish the fine memorial to late Nargis Dutt would not be allowed to crumble in a fratricidal conflict for posts and positions. At this point, I would urge the community to come forward and save the institution which is part of our life and example of the good deeds that the community has done together.

Please call members of NDMF board to tell them the institution belongs to the community and the community will not permit them to decimate it. I appeal to the readers of The Indian Panorama, who, I know, have great concern for community interests, to not rest until the feuding board members either find an amicable solution to run the institution or make way for others to take charge of it. Appeal to their good sense. Shame them, if necessary. It is a test of the strength of the community. Don’t fail, please.

Let me give our readers a list of Nargis Dutt Memorial Foundation board members.
Read as name: email: phone no.

1. Andy Mansukhani: : 1 917 865 7470
2. Ashi Chhabra: 1 718 479 5983
3. Peter Bheddah: : 1 516 765 6622
4. Dr. Jagdish K. Gupta: : 1 917 961 2886
5. Gurdip Singh Narula : : 1 516 455 3253
6. Inder Bindra: 1 516353 9353
7. Rahul Dev Singh: 1 347 681 5881
8. Mrs. Shammi Singh: 1 917 862 1313
9. Sher Singh Madra: 1 917 653 7007
10. hudh Singh Jasuja: : 1 516 852 2000
11. Zinda Singh: 1 917 833 9867
12. Hussain Baqueri: 1 201 294 2985

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