Feroze Jehangir Gandhi

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Feroze Jehangir Gandhi (Ghandy)

Also Known As: "Firoze Jehangir Ghandi"
Birthdate: (47)
Birthplace: Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Death: September 8, 1960 (47)
New Delhi, Delhi, India (Heart Attack)
Place of Burial: Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
Immediate Family:

Son of Faredoon Jehangir Ghandy and Ratimai Jehangir Ghandy
Husband of Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi
Father of Rajiv Ratna Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi
Brother of Dorab Ghandy; Faridun Jehangir Ghandy; Tehmina Kershashp and Aloo Dastur

Managed by: Rehan Allahwala
Last Updated:

About Feroze Jehangir 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 Gandhi After Death according to Amit Sharma Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has assured financial support for the uplift of her father-in-law Feroze Jehangir Gandhi’s grave here. The work is expected to start within a fortnight and Sonia might pay a visit to the place as she did five years ago.

‘‘He is not dead. Who lifts thy glorious mind on high to live in hearts we leave behind is not to die,’’ reads the epitaph on the grave of Feroze Gandhi, husband of late PM Indira Gandhi at Stanley road on Allahabad-Lucknow Highway here.

Since Feroze was buried at this graveyard in 1966, the place lay neglected. It was Feroze’s nephew Rustom Gandhi, born and brought up in Allahabad, who decided to ‘‘glorify’’ his uncle by seeking help from the ‘‘daughter-in-law’’.

He is also making an attempt to seek help from the administration and plans to meet UP CM Mulayam Singh Yadav for the cause. ‘‘I had written to Sonia Gandhi two months ago and met her personally to appeal for help in beautifying the graveyard of Feroze Gandhi. In Parsi religion, we believe graveyard is the place where everyone should not be allowed to walk in, which is why we are not raising a memorial. Since here lies a person who was the husband of the late Indian PM, we cannot ignore the place either,’’ Rustom Gandhi, a trustee of Allahabad Parsi-Zorostrian Anjuman, which looks after the Parsi graveyard, told The Indian Express.

The city around 20 Parsi families and the graveyard at Stanley Road has not more than 100 graves. Sonia Gandhi, during a visit here five years ago, had expressed concern over the deterriorating condition of the place but had not assured any help for its uplift.

‘‘Now, after Soniaji has agreed to help, we expect some support from the local administration. I have letters to the DM in the last two years to help maintain the approach road to the graveyard but to no avail,’’ said Rustom. But help, it seems, is on the way.

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Feroze Jehangir Gandhi's Timeline

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”

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