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By: Anumita Das

He never had the chance to meet the Mahatma. Yet, he went on to become ‘Nagaland’s Gandhi’. Veteran Gandhian, Natwar Thakkar, was only twelve when the zeal for nation-building began to build in him.

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Born to Gujarati parents in Maharashtra’s Dahanu, Natwar Thakkar had dedicated his entire life to nation-building. Taking Mahatma Gandhi as his sole inspiration, a young Thakkar travelled to Nagaland in 1955, when the movement for secession from India was at its peak in the Northeastern state.

Speaking with Inside Northeast, Thakkar’s son, Dr. Aotoshi said, “He came to Chuchuyimlang village in Mokokchung district of Nagaland in 1955. Nagaland was then called the Naga Hills district. It was still a part of the undivided Assam. My father’s aim was national integration, and he had arrived in this small village to work towards the upliftment of the people here.”

After spending ample time working and training the youth along Gandhian lines, Thakkar made Nagaland his home and married a Naga woman named Lentina. The couple actively took part in spreading the Gandhian philosophy of life.

(from L to R) The Gandhian veteran Shri Ravindra Kelekar, Late Mrs. Kalekar, Mrs. Lentina Thakkar and Shri Natwar Thakkar
Image Courtesy – Nagaland Gandhi Ashram Website

The noted Gandhian breathed his last in 2018 at the ripe old age of 86. He was also honored with the Padma Shri for his contribution to the country. Dr. Aotoshi informed that the Chuchuyimlang Village Council Chairman, Aao Sanenpongen has declared October 9, his father’s birthday, as ‘Noble Deeds Day’.

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“Today, in view of his noble deeds for the Naga community, it is expected that all the residents of the village will have to do something noble for the lesser privileged ones on the ‘Noble Deeds Day’,” said the Gandhian’s son.

Thakkar had undertaken several developmental programmes for the youth of Nagaland. The Nagaland Gandhi Ashram in Chuchuyimlang village in Mokokchung is one such example. He also started a vocational training centre for school dropouts and specially-abled to teach carpentry and tailoring.

Late Natwar Thakkar with Union Minister Smriti Irani
Image Courtesy – Dr. Aotoshi

Thakkar had contributed to the overall socio-economic growth of the village people. Through Gandhi Ashram, he initiated several programmes to promote the ‘Khadi culture’. The Gandhian has, to his credit, the establishment of basic amenities in the village where he had settled more than six decades ago.

Natwar Thakkar is one of the few non-Nagas who is admired across the state. He received the ‘Lifetime Service to Naga People Award’ in 2009 at Chuchuyimlang, Mokokchung, Nagaland, which was conferred by the association of native inhabitants of Chuchuyimlang village.

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