KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) — Mother Teresa whose birth centenary being kept this month was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 26, 1910. She arrived in Calcutta in 1929 and soon after India’s independence (15 August 1947) Mother Teresa became an Indian citizen on 14 December 1951.
This is what Mother Teresa says about herself: “By blood I am Albanian. My citizenship is Indian. I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.”
Mother Teresa received many national and international awards in recognition of her noble work for the poorest of the poor. The first award being Padmashri for distinguished service (1962), then the Magsaysay Award the same year, Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971), Good Samaritan Award (1971), John F. Kennedy International Award (1971), Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International peace (1972), Nobel Peace Prize (1979), Bharat Ratna (1980), Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award (1993) etc. were some of them.
Her official biography was authored by an Indian civil servant, Mr. Navin Chawla, and published in 1992. Currently, the Chief Election Commissioner of India, Mr Chawla is expected to speak at the Mother Teresa International Symposium scheduled to be held in Kolkata, 4 September 2010.However, Indian views on Mother Teresa were not uniformly favourable.
One of her critic Aroup Chatterjee, who was born and raised in Calcutta but now living in London, reports that “she was not a significant entity in Calcutta in her lifetime”. Further, Chatterjee blames Mother Teresa for promoting a negative image of his home city (Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict).
The Bharatiya Janata Party clashed with her over the Christian Dalits, but praised her in death, sending a representative to her funeral.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, on the other hand, opposed the Government’s decision to grant her a state funeral (13 September 1997). Its secretary Giriraj Kishore said that “her first duty was to the Church and social service was incidental” and accused her of favouring Christians and conducting “secret baptisms” of the dying.
But, in its front page tribute, Chennai based fortnightly Frontline (belonging to The Hindu newspaper group) dismissed these charges as “patently false” and said that they had “made no impact on the public perception of her work, especially in Calcutta”. Although praising her “selfless caring”, energy and bravery, the author of the tribute was critical of Mother Teresa’s public campaigning against abortion and that she claimed to be non-political when doing so.
More recently, the Kolkata based daily The Telegraph (Ananda Bazaar Patrika group) mentioned that “Rome has been asked to investigate if she did anything to alleviate the condition of the poor or just took care of the sick and dying and needed them to further a sentimentally moral cause.”