Post Mortem

‘Our dearest ‘Obu’ is no more!’

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/10/2018 12:38:16 PM IST

 ‘Obu’ (grandpa) Natwar Thakkar, an eminent  Gandhian social worker, was born in 1932 to a Gujarati speaking family in coastal Dahanu of the then Bombay Presidency of British India (presently Palghar District, Maharashtra). At the young age of 23, ‘Obu’ came to Nagaland and established Nagaland Gandhi Ashram (NGA) at Chuchuyimlang village (District Mokokchung) in 1955 to foster all round development & welfare and to promote national integration through voluntary social service by adopting Gandhian principles. Since then there was no turning back in his life: he invested his entire life for upliftment of the people of Nagaland and the North East India. 

‘Obu’ initially started his mission by running a medical aid clinic and teaching Hindi at a local middle school. Over the period of time he introduced various developmental and income generating activities like carpentry and blacksmith workshop, vocational training centre, beekeeping, mustard, sunflower & groundnut oil production, gur production, biogas plant, citronella oil production, sericulture farm, opening of dispensary and rural library, and khadi sales outlet, etc. Under the leadership of ‘Obu’, NGA also conducted free medical camps at regular intervals in the village. There was also a Montessori at the Ashram. The various training and social activities imparted by NGA was an eye opener to many villagers in the area.  During this period the Naga political movement was at its peak and the environment was hostile that ‘Obu’ had to face several life threatening situations. He also faced discouraging response at times. However, he never gave up his social service activities to uplift our people. In the course of time NGA also conducted several seminars at various States in the NE Region, and it holds special programme during National days like Republic Day, Independence Day, Gandhi Jayanti, etc., to this day. On special occasions over the years NGA also screened various cinema shows. One of the very big moments for the people of the area was the visit of the then Prime Minister of India Morarji Desai to NGA in November 1977. NGA was a catalyst and window to the outside world. 

With Obu’s initiative, a rural extension centre of National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) was started at Chuchuyimlang Town in 2006, offering various computer courses free of cost/ with nominal fees, benefitting thousands of students from across the State. On 2nd October, 2015 the then Union Minister for Human Resources Development Smriti Irani laid the foundation stone for establishment of Mahatma Gandhi Human Development Academy, a joint venture of NGA and Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS/ Mumbai),  for which the Chuchuyimlang villagers donated 200 plus acres of land to establish this Academy. 

In recognition of his outstanding services rendered to humanity, pioneering work in tribal welfare, national integration and service to Naga people, etc. ‘Obu’ was honoured with:

(i) Nagaland Governor’s Commendation Certificate (1964)

(ii) Mahatma Gandhi National Integration and Communal Harmony Award (1986) 

(iii) Jamnalal Bajaj National Award (1987)

(iv) Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration (1994)

(v) National Citizen’s Award (1995)

(vi) Vishwa Gurjari National Award (1997)

(vii) Padmashree Award (1999)

(viii) Meghalaya State Mahatma Gandhi Award 1996 (1999) 

(ix) Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar Award 1995 (2000)

(x) Diwaliben Award (2000)

(xi) Siu Ka Pha National Award (2005)

(xii) 3rd Bodofa UN Brahma Soldier Humanity Award (2006)

(xiii) 14th Ba-Bapu Award (2006)

(xiv) Barkhetri Unnayan Samiti (2007) 

(xv) Lifetime Service to Naga People Award (2009)

(xvi) Karmayogi Award (2015)

I had enriching opportunities in meeting ‘Obu’ personally for a number of times, the last being in January 2018. He was a simple man of benevolence without any negativity in life. What amazed me every time we met was the strong vocabulary (in Ao dialect) he used during our conversations! 

Our dearest ‘Obu’ breathe his last, in the morning of October 07, 2018, at Apollo Hospital, Guwahati (Assam) after a brief illness. In his demise, we have lost a great visionary and a humble human being who will always remain in the hearts of the people. ‘Obu’ has left an inspiring legacy for generations.   

“May your soul rest in peace ‘Obu’”.

It is our earnest prayer that the Almighty Lord will comfort and strengthen ‘otsü’ & children and the near & dear ones during this difficult phase of life.  

“Nothing Is Permanent In This World- Not Even Our Troubles” – Charlie Chaplin

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