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Many people might not know about the social activist Natwar Thakkar who was popular as Nagaland Gandhi and was awarded Padma Shree. He went to stay in Nagaland in 1955 at the age of 23 and spread the teachings of Gandhi. He set up the Nagaland Gandhi Ashram at a village Chuchuyimlang in Mokokchung district in the year 1955. ( End of an Era as Nagaland ‘s own Gandhi is no more, Abdul Gani, 8 Oct 2018, thecitizen.in). He was 86 when he breathed his last suffering from kidney related disease.

His work

He worked tirelessly for the poor and people affected with disability. A Guwahati based senior journalist Nava Thakuria said that Natwar Thakkar went through a very difficult phase when he arrived in Nagaland from Maharashtra. Initially he was not welcomed as he was suspected to be a spy but he faced the obstacles with determination. His works include vocational training for social dropouts and physically handicapped, primary schools in villages, medical centers and libraries. He helped people earn a liveli- hood by engaging in agriculture and jaggery – making and by setting up oil mills, biogas plants, mechanised carpentary shops and khadi sales counters. Thakaria, who is also the secretary of Guwahati Press Club, said that Thakkar interacted with journalists. The wife of Thakkar, a local girl, Lentina Ao, is also a social worker and was honored with Padma Sri. He donated most of his prize money for the welfare of villagers. His work inspired many people in neighboring states. Miguel Das Queah , a child rights activist and founder of UTSAH ( Guwahati) which works for child rights, remembered him as a mentor who advised in struggling years of the organization.

His life

He was born on October 9, 1932. Also known as ‘Natwar bhai’ , he was inspired by Thakkar Bapa, a social activist who worked for the upliftment of tribal people. (Nagaland’s Gandhi, Natwar Thakkar dies, publish date 10/7/2018, nagalandpost.com He was instrumental in setting up extension center of National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology and Mahatma Gandhi Center for Social Work (MGCSW) in the Chuchuyimlang village.

Condolences

Many politicians from the ruling and the opposition parties expressed condolences on the demise of the activist. That indicates his popularity among Naga tribes. His service to uplift the poor tribes is valuable and his courage to continue social work needs to be appreciated specially when Nagaland and its neighboring states are facing secessionist and internal conflicts.

( The writer from everywhere and anywhere is concerned with human rights issues. Some of his works appeared in dissidentvoice.org, poemHunter.com, conterview.org, counterview.net, tusk magazine, velivada and virasam.org, etc )

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