Eighty five-year-old Jagdish Lal Ahuja, who has been serving langer to hundreds of people every day near PGIMER for more than two decades, and Dr Digambar Behera, a professor at PGIMER, were conferred with the Padma Shri award on Saturday. The list of awardees was released on the eve of Republic Day.
A resident of Sector 23, Ahuja has been suffering from stomach cancer. Sitting at his house, Ahuja said, “I, along with my family, had come here from Peshawar in Pakistan at the time of Partition in 1947. My family came to Mansa and then, I shifted towards Ropar and the place, which is known as Chandigarh today. I merely had a few paisas in my pocket then. I even sold bananas sitting by the road at the old mandi in New Delhi. The idea to start langer outside PGI was my inner voice. I had faced poverty and starvation, and when I thought I am capable of feeding others, I decided to start langer service.”
On winning the Padma Shri, he said, “I just heard about the Padma Shri award from the media persons. I do not know how who recommended my name and how it was accepted. I just want that the government should rebate me from income tax, so my family can continue the langer service after my death.”
Dr Digambar Behera, who is with the Pulmonary Department at PGIMER, got the fourth highest civilian award for his distinguished service in the field of medicine.
“It is a matter of pride not only for him but for PGIMER as well, as he has given the institute more than 43 years of his service,” said Dr Jagat Ram, Director of the PGIMER. “Dr Behera has worked tremendously to set up the pulmonary department and has contributed significantly to research in pulmonary medicine and in treating lung cancer,” added Ram.
Dr Behera has held the post of Dean Research at PGIMER and has also served as director for the National Institute of TB and Respiratory Diseases in New Delhi. He has authored seminal books on respiratory medicine such as the “Textbook of Pulmonary Medicine” and “Recent Advances in Respiratory Medicine”.
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