Feroze Gandhi (1912 - 1960)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Death: Died in New Delhi, Delhi, India
Cause of death: Heart Attack
Managed by: Rehan Allahwala
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About Feroze Gandhi

Feroze Gandhi (12 September 1912 – 8 September 1960) was an Indian politician and journalist, and publisher of the The National Herald and 'The Navjivan' newspapers from Lucknow.[3]

He became the member of the provincial parliament (1950—52), and later a member of the Lok Sabha, the Lower House of India's parliament. In 1942 he married Indira Nehru (later Prime Minister of India) and they had two sons Rajiv Gandhi (also later a Prime Minister) and Sanjay Gandhi, and thus became part of the Nehru dynasty.[4]

Feroze Gandhi was born in Bombay, to a Parsi family from Gujarat. He was the youngest child among four siblings, with father Jehangir Faredoon , a marine engineer and mother Rattimai.[3] His family had migrated to Bombay from Bharuch in South Gujarat, where his ancestral home which belonged to his grandfather, still exists in Kotpariwad, city’s Parsi neighbourhood.

His family was not related to that of Mahatma Gandhi.[3]:p93

In early 1920s, with his father Jehangir Faredoon dead, he and his mother Rattimai Faredoon moved to Allahabad to live with their unmarried aunt, Dr. Shirin Commissariat, a well known surgeon at city's Lady Dufferin Hospital. He attended the Vidya Mandir High School, and then graduated from the British-staffed Ewing Christian College.[3] Later, he was to study at the London School of Economics.

In March 1930, the youth wing of Congress Freedom fighters, the Vanar Sena was formed, subsequently Feroze first met Kamala Nehru and Indira at women demonstrators picketing outside his college, Ewing Christian College, Allahabad, it so happened that under the mid-day sun Kamala fainted and young Feroze who was watching the demonstrators along with his friends rushed to comfort her. The next day, he abandoned his studies in 1930 to join the Indian independence movement. He was imprisoned in 1930, along with Lal Bahadur Shastri, head of Allahabad District Congress Committee, and lodged in Faizabad Jail for nineteen months. Soon after his release, he going agrarian no-rent campaign in the United Province (Uttar Pradesh) and thus was imprisoned twice in 1932 and 1933, while working closely with Nehru.[3]

Feroze grew close to the Nehru family, especially Indira's mother Kamala Nehru and Indira herself. He even accompanied ailing Kamala Nehru to the TB Sanatorium at Bhowali in 1934 and was visited by both Indira and Nehru (from Almora Jail) in December, and seeing his devotion to Kamala, Nehru was deeply impressed. Feroze stayed with Kamala till she left Europe when her condition worsened in April 1935, never to return as she eventually died in 1936 in Laussane, Switzerland.[3] In the following years, Indira and Feroze grew further closer to each other while in England. They married in March 1942 according to Hindu rituals.[5]

His father-in-law was strongly opposed to his marriage with the young Indira and even approached Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to dissuade the young couple, but to no avail. However, over the years, father-in-law and son-in-law resolved their differences, especially with Feroze adopting Gandhiji's ideology. The couple were arrested and jailed in August 1942, during the Quit India Movement less than six months after their marriage, he was imprisoned for a year in Allahabad's Naini Central Prison. The coming five years were of comfortable domestic life and the couple had two sons, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi, born in 1944 and 1946 respectively.

After independence, Jawaharlal became the first Prime Minister of India. Feroze and Indira settled in Allahabad with their two young children, and Feroze became Managing Director of The National Herald, a newspaper founded by his father-in-law. He was also the first chairman of Indian Oil Corporation Limited.

After remaining a member of the provincial parliament (1950-1952), Feroze Gandhi contested independent India's first general elections in 1952, from Rae Bareli constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Indira came down from Delhi and worked as his campaign organizer, and he won. Feroze soon became a prominent force in his own right, criticizing the Government of his father-in-law and beginning a tirade against corruption.

In the years after independence, many Indian business houses had become close to the political leaders, and now some of them started various financial irregularities. In a case exposed by Feroze in Dec 1955,[6] he revealed how Ram Kishan Dalmia, as chairman of a bank and an insurance company, used these companies to fund his takeover of Bennett and Coleman started transferring money illegally from publicly-held companies for their own benefit.

In 1957, he was re-elected from Rae Bareli. In the parliament in 1958, he raised the Haridas Mundhra scandal involving the government controlled LIC insurance company. This was a huge embarrassment to the clean image of Nehru's government and eventually led to the resignation of the Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari. His rift with Indira had also become public knowledge by then, and added to the media interest in the matter.

Feroze also initiated a number of nationalization drives, starting with the Life Insurance Corporation. At one point he also suggested that Telco be nationalized since they were charging nearly double the price of a Japanese Railway engine. This raised a stir in the Parsi community since the Tatas were also Parsi. He continued challenging the government on a number of other issues, and emerged as a parliamentarian well-respected on both sides of the bench.[6]

[edit] Death

Feroze suffered his first heart attack in 1958. Indira who stayed with her father at Teen Murti House, the official Prime ministers residence, was away with her father on state visit to Bhutan rushed back and took him to recuperate in Kashmir, where with their young boys, they were together again.[7] However, Feroze died in 1960 of a second heart attack at the Willingdon Hospital, now Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Delhi. He was later cremated and his ashes interred at the Parsi cemetery in Allahabad, the town where his eldest brother Fardiun's son, Rustom Gandhi's family still lives.[8]

His Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency seat, is now being held by his daughter-in-law, and wife of Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandh

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Feroze Gandhi's Timeline

1912
September 12, 1912
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Feroze Gandhi : The Forgotten Gandhi of India

More than fifty years ago, a young elegant man stood up in the Lok Sabha and started speaking, better to say roaring. He was exposing out the first scam in the parliamentary democracy of India, though he belong to the Treasury bench. His father in law, the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru was hearing the thundering words. Nothing prevented Feroze Gandhi from exposing corruptions.

He started: “A mutiny in my mind has compelled me to raise this debate. When things of such magnitude, as I shall describe to you later, occur, silence became a crime…..”

It went on, when with several counter arguments with the then Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari, while the Lok Sabha heard it with pin drop silence. Indian democracy was first experiencing this shocking situation. “Mr.Speaker, there is going to be some sharp shooting and hard hitting in the House today, because when I hit I hit hard and expect to be hit harder. I am fully conscious that the other side is also equipped with plentiful supplies of TNT,” continues Feroze
The scam was on the Life Insurance Corporation’s shabby deal with a businessman Haridas Mundhra. Feroze exposed with all documents, how Mundhra manipulated the LIC to purchase shares in his little known companies. This first scam in India is now known as ‘Mundhra deal, which resulted the resignation of the Finance Minister, termination of the Finance Secretary and imprisonment of Mundhra.

‘Feroze Gandhi – The Political Biography’, the recently released book by veteran parliamentarian Shashi Bhushan is a real tribute to the ‘forgotten’ Gandhi of Indian politics. The book enumerates the struggles lead by Feroze Gandhi and his bombarding speeches in Lok Sabha against the corruption.

The speeches of Feroze on the corruption against the Dalmia – Jain gives the outline of how the corporate men grow over public money. It is unthinkable for a politician to bring the corruption charges against media barons. Feroze exposed Dalmia- Jain’s take over of Bennett and Colman by siphoning the funds of Gwalior Bank and Bharat Insurance. They were the directors of these banking and insurance companies and transferred the money for their own company, which lead to the immediate collapse of the public institutions.

No corporate men saved from Feroze’s hard hitting against corruption. Birlas, Goenka (“not the one running a newspaper, this is another Goenka running banks,” Feroze once clarified”) were exposed by Feroze for using public money by running banks and insurance companies and transferring it to their own business.

When some alleged that Feroze was doing these all for Tata’s, as bother were parzis, next came against Tata. Feroze found Telco was making money from railways by supplying locomotive engines at an exorbitant rate. With evidence Feroze exposed Telco for charging more than double for an engine to railways, which lead to exit for Tata and formation of locomotive workshops in public sector.

While immersed in the political crusades and fight against the post-independence monopoly of corporates, he continued his association with journalism as a Managing Director of National Herald and also associated with the Indian Express editorial team.

As a true socialist, Feroze was the mentor of most of the public sector undertakings in India, including the nationalization of LIC, Indian Oil. Born in a rich family, he went to jail at the age of 18. he can’t be a mute spectator, when freedom struggles were going outside the fortress of his bungalow. The young revolutionary was ‘nuisance’ to his aunt, who was the head of the medical services in Allahabad. She has to file apologies to British government, as and when the nephew was caught.

Fed up with the son’s activities, mother met Gandhiji and requested to advice feroze to concentrate on studies. Hearing the complaints, Gandhiji said : “Your son is a revolutionary. If I get seven persons like him, India would be free in seven days”.

The author Shashi Bhushan made a good effort to bring out the political biography of a person who was son-in-law, husband, and father of three prime minister’s of India. The 230-page book dedicated to Rajiv Gandhi is mainly focusing on the political life of the real young turk of India. It had only few pages on the controversial personal and married life of Feroze Gandhi and it completely in a gazette nature.

Describing the jovial mood of the marriage ceremony, author end the chapter abruptly :
“Indiraji too was full of responsibility in the political field. She also had to take care of her father. Both of them were actively involved with their political responsibilities”. Author gives only few lines on the revolutionary love affair of Feroze and Indira and literally silent how Nehru approved it. With single line,‘ they traveled in a ship from London to India back in 1940’, writer leaves everything back to the reader.

But a mention by Jawaharlal Nehru is enough for the reader to assess the personal life of Feroze, who passed away in 1960 at the age of 48. Seeing the huge crowd, assembled for cremation, Nehru said : “I did not know that Feroze was so popular”

1942
1942
Age 29
London, United Kingdom

GANDHI’S FAMILY TREE WORTH SPENDING 15 MINUTES TO READ
At the very beginning of his book, “The Nehru Dynasty”, astrologer K. N. Rao mentions the names of Jawahar Lal’s father and grandfather. Jawahar Lal’s father was believed to be Moti Lal and Moti Lal’s father was one Gangadhar Nehru. And we all know that Jawahar Lal’s only daughter was Indira Priyadarshini Nehru, Kamala Nehru was her mother, who died in Switzerland of tuberculosis. She was totally against Indira’s proposed marriage with Feroze. Why? No one tells us that Now, who is this Feroze? We are told by many he was the son of the family grocer. The grocer supplied wines etc. to Anand Bhavan, preciously known as Ishrat Manzil, which once belonged to a Muslim lawyer named Mobarak Ali. Moti Lal was earlier an employee of Mobarak Ali. What was the family grocer’s name? One frequently hears that Rajiv Gandhi’s grandfather was Pandit Nehru. But then we all know that everyone has two grandfathers, the paternal and the material grandfather. In fact, the paternal grandfather is deemed to be the more important grandfather in most societies. Why is it then nowhere we find Rajiv Gandhi’s paternal grandfather’s name? It appears that the reason is simply this Rajiv Gandhi’s paternal grandfather was a Muslim gentleman from the Junagadh area of Gujrat. This Muslim grocer by the name of Nawab Khan, had married a Parsi woman after converting her to Islam. This is the source where from the myth of Rajiv being a Parsi was derived. Rajiv’s father Feroze was Feroze Khan before he married Indira, against Kamala Nehru’s wishes. Feroze mother’s family name was Ghandy, often associated with Parsis and this was changed to Gandhi, sometime before his wedding with Indira by an affidavit. The fact of the matter is that (and this fact can be found in many writings) Indira was very lonely. Chased out of the Shantiniketan University by Guru Dev Rabindranath himself for misdemeanor, the lonely girl was an by herself while father Jawahar was busy with polities pretty women and illicit sex; the mother was in hospital. Feroze Khan, the grocer’s son was then in England and he was quite sympathetic to Indira and soon enough she changed her religion, became a Muslim women and married Feroze Khan in a London mosque. Nehru was not happy; Kamala was dead already or dying. The news of this married eventually reached Mohandas Karan Chand Gandhi. Gandhi urgently called Nehru and practically ordered him to ask the young man to change his name from Khan to Gandhi. It had nothing to do with change of religion, from Islam to Hindustan for instance. It was just a case of a change of name by an affidavit. And so Feroze Khan became Feroze Gandhi. The surprising thing is that the apostle of truth, the old man soon to be declared India’s Mahatma and the ‘Father of the Nation’ didn’t mention this game of his in the famous book. ‘My Experiments with Truth’ Why? When they returned to India, a mock ‘Vedic marriage’ was instituted for public consumption. On the subject, writes M. O. Mathai (a longtime private secretary of Nehru) in his renowned (but now suppressed by the GOI) ‘Reminiscences of the Nehru Age’ on page no. 94, second paragraph: “For some inexplicable reason, Nehru allowed the marriage to be performed according to Vedic rited in 1942. An inter-religious and inter-caste marriage Vedic rites at that time was not valid in law. To be legal, it had to be a civil marriage. It’s a known fact that after Rajiv’s birth Indira and Feroze lived separately, but they were not divorced. Feroze used to harass Nehru frequently for money and also interfere in Nehru’s political activities. Nehru got fed up and left instructions not to allow him into the Prime Minister’s residence Trimurthi Bhavan. Mathai writes that the death of Feroze came as a relief to Nehru and Indira. The death of Feroze in 1960 before he could consolidate his own political force, is itself a mystery. Feroze had even planned to remarry. Those who try to keep tabs on our lenders in spite of
User Review - Flag as inappropriate
Thia book is more than gory details of Nehru;s personal life. It is behind-the-scene political drama that unfolded short years before and after India's independence. Mr. Mathai's insights are worth-noting.
For a long time I searched for a hard copy of this book. I learnt in the process that it had been banned by the Govt. of India. Naturally, I was curious. My perseverance paid off and for a modest price I was able to download an electronic version of the book.
It is extremely informative and at the same time EXPLOSIVE to say the least. The author, Mr. M. O. Mathai, as Nehru's Special Assistant, was in an exceptional position to first hand see the goings on in the national and international arena. He also admits to a 12 year-long affairs with Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, and the fact that Mr. Nehru was aware of that liaison. Although a kiss-and-tell chapter titled "She" in the book was dropped from publication at the last minute, there is an unverified text floating on the Internet, with credit to Maneka Gandhi, Mrs. Gandhi's younger daughter-in-law. However, there is little of no proof that Mr. Mathai penned those words. For the rest, the author had very little reason, if at all, to publish a scandalous book risking legal ramifications.
The book contains many interesting facts and historic anecdotes. If the mind boggling information contained therein is true, it is unconscionable that the public has been denied access to the facts. Suppression of information only makes the public even more determined. In this electronic age, it is much easier to obtain information and disseminate it to the masses with a simple click. The action of Govt. of India to take such extreme measures-- to prevent circulation of this book-- only supports the author's claims. The reader sees how some able and competent ideologists did not survive the politics to claim their rightful place in running the country. It is an equal shame that early in the emergence of the Republic of India, the corrupt and egotist politicians, who were ill-prepared as administrators, took impulsive, self-serving, near-sighted and ill-advised decisions (or without proper counsel, which often were more for vindictive reasons against their political rivals rather than for the good of the country) that in the process they only caused irreparable damage to India's national security, as well as financial and political viability, not to mention tarnishing her international standing. It took nearly six decades for India to do damage control and to claim her rightful place on the world stage.
Even though the book chronicles one man's views and recollections of events and individuals, which may be colored by his perception of the truth and/or personal biases, it has to be in a great part factual. (In fact, growing up I recall hearing from my parents many incidents or liaisons, which supposedly were public knowledge. Nonetheless the press remained kind to Nehru for the high esteem in which he was held by the public and the media.) A smart man like Mr. Mathai would neither gamble with his reputation nor would he risk libel/slander charges. Most significantly, he was already a man of means when he joined Pt. Nehru in 1946, and did not need regular income to support himself. He served Mr. Nehru during one of the most momentous periods in the Indian History, and long before Mr. Nehru was part of the Government. (In fact, Mr. Mathai joined his staff on Government payroll only reluctantly. His resignation in 1959 was tendered in the aftermath of communist propaganda. Mr. Mathai did not want to make public any of his personal matters. Mr. Nehru knew him well, trusted him implicitly, and was aware of no wrongdoing on Mr. Mathai's part. He, however, did include them in his letter to Mr. Nehru (Appendix III of this book) when requesting termination of his Govt. employment.) Naturally, in his 13-year association with Mr. Nehru, Mr. Mathai had a unique opportunity to see many significant events unfold. No one else knew Nehru as

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1944
August 20, 1944
Age 31
1946
December 14, 1946
Age 34
1960
September 8, 1960
Age 47
New Delhi, Delhi, India
September 10, 1960
Age 47
Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India