How Gandhi’s Grand-Niece Fought for India’s Freedom & Went to Jail

With India’s freedom struggle at its peak, Manu Gandhi becomes a satyagrahi — and experiences life in jail. Listen!

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(This story was first published on 30 September 2019 and is being reposted from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary)

Imagine you’re fourteen, away from your family, and you’re given the news that you’re going to jail. How would you feel – nervous, worried or excited, like Manu Gandhi?

In 1942, when Manu, the grand-niece of Gandhi, heard that she could join India’s freedom struggle, she jumped with joy.

This is the second episode of a special three-part podcast series by The Quint, first published on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. You can listen to the first episode here.

Manu Gandhi's diaries, from 1943 to 1944, have been released by Oxford University Press in a book titled The Diary of Manu Gandhi. The diaries have been translated from the Gujarati original to English by Tridip Suhrud.

A Young Girl to Satyagrahi

On 31 August 1942, Manu Gandhi joined the Quit India Movement and became a satyagrahi. It was also the first time she wore a sari. That very day, she was arrested and kept prisoner at Wardha Jail. Two days later, she was transferred to Nagpur Central Jail, where she stayed for nine months. During this period, she adjusted to the bland jail food, made friends with fellow prisoners and matrons, and gained valuable life experiences about a life of hardship.

By the beginning of 1943, Gandhi was a prisoner at the Aga Khan Palace. On 10 February 1943, he started on a 21-day long fast. Around that time, his wife Kasturba Gandhi’s health was deteriorating. Hence, the government decided to shift Manu from Nagpur to Aga Khan Palace in order to tend to the both of them.

Manu was reunited with Ba and Bapu. With Gandhi and Kasturba, Manu had found a family she cared for deeply. They were the centre of her universe, and it was by taking care of them that she learnt about duty, sacrifice, discipline. How did being around the two shape Manu's worldview? Listen!

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