New Delhi: She battled cancer for nearly three years and when death finally came knocking, former bureaucrat Sharwaree Gokhale donated a major chunk of her hard-earned money for brain research in India.
The former Maharashtra cadre IAS officer of 1974 batch, Gokhale passed away in January last year.
She bequeathed her flat in a posh Mumbai area to the Centre for Brain Research, an autonomous body under the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru.
Gokhale retired from services as Additional Chief Secretary (Health) after serving for nearly 36 years. But post retirement, she was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
“She underwent treatment for nearly three years, which included chemotherapy and a surgery. But when Sharwaree realised that she was losing her battle to the disease, she did extensive research for over 6-8 months on how her money could be put to good use.
“She would say my money should remain in my country and used for scientific research,” Chandra Iyengar, former home secretary of Maharashtra, says.
Gokhale’s US-based brother Jagadeesh, who was also her immediate family, says it was her fascination for science that made her take that decision. Jagadeesh formerly worked with the US Department of the Treasury.
Iyengar says her belief that the brain was the most fascinating part of human body and it must be harnessed made her donate the flat for research.
As in life, Gokhale remained meticulous till the very end, tying up loose ends and choosing the institution meticulously.
“She wanted to tie all the loose ends and ensure that the flat is bequeathed to the institute as per her desire. After signing the final set of documents, Gokhale died in just six days,” Iyengar says.
Her friends suggested she donate money to NGOs and for social causes.
“But she was very firm on donating her property to the CBR. She wanted to donate her money to an organisation, which she thought, can use it wisely and did a lot of research before making her will,” says Meeran Borwankar, former Pune police commissioner, who used to assist her in her miscellaneous works.
Her former colleagues describe Gokhale as someone with a very different approach towards life.
“Sharwaree was different from all of us. She was a person with strong likes and dislikes. Her thinking level was very high and abstract,” her batchmate Leena Mehendale says.
“With her donation, she continues to contribute to the progress of human kind even in her death. Her gift to CBR will help in furthering our knowledge of human brain especially with reference to age-related brain disorders,” the CBR says.