On 3 January, Sevagram remembered Dr Sushila Nayar—the founder director of Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences—on her 15th death anniversary. The staff, students, teachers, nurses, paramedics and health professionals of the institute paid floral tributes and offered marigold petals to her memorial at Maatru-Sthal. A large number of admirers paid homage to her by bowing with folded hands at her memorial and performing a parikrama (circumambulation) around it. To mark the occasion, an all-religion prayer service was organised. The audience recited the last 19 verses from the second chapter of Shrimad Bhagwad Gita and sang hymns from the Upanishad, Quran, Japji Sahib and Bible.
Whenever she was in Sevagram—between 1969 and 2000—Dr Sushila Nayar would make a point of participating in the Friday evening prayers. After the prayer, she would enthrall the audience with her advice based on spirituality. Her talks have been tape-recorded for posterity. On her 15th death anniversary, on the lawns, the audience heard her majestic voice, recorded on tape, summoning people to stand by truth, non-violence and communal harmony. “You might have been advised to love your neighbour and hate your enemy,” Dr Sushila Nayar’s words began to resonate at her Samadhi at Maatru-Sthal. “But I would like you to love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you. Worship Ram but also try to discover virtues in Ravan’s character,” she had said. She also recalled an anecdote from Les Misérables—Victor Hugo’s 1862 French historical novel—in which Bishop Myriel not only offers food and night shelter to a thief who escapes from the gaol but also forgives him for stealing his silver candlesticks.
Since 2002, the Department of Pathology at MGIMS, led by Professor Nitin Gangane, has been organising an annual blood donation camp in the Blood Bank where employees of Kasturba Health Society and MGIMS participate to commemorate Dr Sushila Nayar’s memory. This year too, students, residents and faculty of the institute showed up in large numbers to donate their blood on January 3—her death anniversary. Dr BS Garg, Secretary Kasturba Health Society and Dr KR Patond, Dean, MGIMS inaugurated the camp. Dr Atul Tayade, head, department of Radiology, was the first to donate blood, a tradition he has been following since years. A stream of students, faculty and staff members followed him. The donors were checked to ensure that they were fit to donate the blood and each donated 350 ml of blood to save someone's life. 25 donors stepped forward and contributed to the camp.