Bhangur (West Bengal), May 2: Indophile and French author Dominique Lapierre has promised to keep up his humanitarian tryst with India, even as West Bengal erupted in joyous felicitation on his visit to the state after being conferred the Padma Bhushan.
"This is my official entry into the big Indian family. I will receive this Padma Bhushan in the name of all those who have requested that this great honour be given to me," said Lapierre. Villagers of Bhangur in South 24 Parganas felicitated Lapierre on being conferred the award, and the overjoyed author said the enthusiasm of the villagers was the biggest achievement for him. "My future plan is to continue all our humanitarian actions and one day write a book on the Sundarbans and to come back to 24 Parganas." Lapierre.
The felicitation program in Bangur was organized by SHIS (Southern Healthmprovement Samity), a self-help group.
Lapierre says it is not enough that he pours in over Rs 140 million each year to projects in India. For him, giving back to India is crucial as he confesses to having taken a lot from the country.
Funds contributed by him have been spent on curing and educating 8,000 leper children, drilling wells, operating a tuberculosis eradication program in hundreds of villages, and building schools and clinics in Bengal.
Lapierre is also known for his yeoman service to the three million impoverished citizens living on the edge of humanity in the wide wilderness of the Sundarbans mangrove swamps in the deltaic region.
For the people of West Bengal, the celebrated French novelist is a messiah whose novel 'City of Joy,' a best-selling tale of a western priest who rediscovers his faith in Calcutta's wretched slums went on to become a best seller.
In 1981, Lapierre founded a humanitarian association for rescuing leper children from the slums of Kolkata. The royalties from the book 'Five Past Midnight in Bhopal' go to the Sambhavna clinic in Bhopal which provides free medical treatment to the victims of the 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal disaster.
Lapierre also funds a primary school in Oriya Basti, one of the settlements described in 'Five Past Midnight in Bhopal'.
While Lapierre authored 'City of Joy' 'Beyond Love' 'A Thousand Suns' 'Once Upon a Time in the USSR' himself, the novels he co-authored with Larry Collins include 'Is Paris Burning? 'Or I'll Dress You in Mourning 'O Jerusalem' Freedom at Midnight' 'The Fifth Horseman' and 'Is New York Burning?'.
'Five Past Midnight in Bhopal' was co-authored with Javier Moro.'