Saturday, June 09, 2018


sfty ai frgn


Philanthropist who lost his wife and kids in Air India bombing pens his memoir

Chandrasekhar Sankurathri is one of those rare human beings who know how to turn one’s grief into strength.

After he lost his wife and two children in the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June, 23 1985, Sankurathri quit his comfortable life in Ottawa and moved back to India, the country of his birth.

He decided to open a free school and free eye hospital for the poor and needy in memory of his loved ones.

The Air India bombing, which has been blamed on Canadian-based Sikh separatists seeking revenge for state repression of Sikhs in India, turned Sankurathri’s life upside down.

His wife Manjari, seven-year-old son Srikiran, and four-year-old daughter Sarada were among the 329 passengers on the ill-fated flight.

They were heading to India for summer vacation, while Sankurathri—who worked as a scientist for the federal government—was supposed to join them a month later. Their bodies were never found. 

After remaining in shock for some time, he finally decided to move back to Kakinada, the native city of his wife in Andhra Pradesh, in 1988. He launched a charity in her name, the Manjari Sankurathri Memorial Foundation, which runs the school and  hospital.

Initially, he bought land in Kakinada in 1987 to open an orphanage. Sankurathri later chose to name the hospital after his son, and he was very particular about naming the school after his daughter.

In his autobiography, A Ray of Hope, which is to be released in Ottawa today (June 9), he gives a detailed account of his loss and how this marked the beginning of his journey as a philanthropist.

Sankurathri wanted to create a foundation under the name of his wife, whom he loved to the core, and this is one reason why he chose to make her native city its base. He describes her as an “exceptional woman” in his book and writes how empathetic she was toward poor people.

Manjari was greatly disturbed by the events of 1984 that culminated in the Air India tragedy.
09/06/18 Gurpreet Singh/Straight
--------------------------