Friday, June 9, 2023

Gulzarilal Nanda: A true Gandhian who preferred life away from spotlight 


By Sanjay Mishra

A simple man to the core who consigned himself to a spot away from public glare and preferred a life away from the spotlight and took up living in a nondescript locality, was thrown out of the one-room abode by the landlord for his failure to pay rnt over a few months. He pleaded with the landlord that he would clear the rent dues shortly, but the latter remained unmoved. Neighbors who knew the man as just another denizen of their ilk also requested the landlord who ultimately yielded to the request and let the 94 year old tenant stay but on ‘or else’ terms.

His wordily possessions comprised a cot, a plastic bucket and some necessary aluminum utensils plus Rs 500 per month as pension.

A journalist passing by the scene of the pandemonium gauged the situation and his heart tugged him. The scribe decided to write a feature  in the newspaper with the headline he coined on the spot, ‘Cruel landlord kicks old man out for unpaid rent.’ He had also snapped a few photographs. He went to his office and showing him the photos discussed the issue with his editor. The editor asked the journalist if he knew the old man and the scribe expressed ignorance. The next day, the news appeared on the front page of the newspaper, headlined, ‘Former Prime Minister of India Gulzarilal Nanda living pathetic life.’

The news mentioned how the former Prime Minister unable to pay houserent was thrown out of the house and added that Gulzarilal Nanda had intially reject a monthly allowance of Rs 500 insisting that he would not touch the money that was allocated for freedom fighters. Howeer, after contentions of friends, he accepted the pension and that became his only source of income with which he paid house rent and led his life on the measly left over of the Rs 500.

After the news was flashed in print, the then Prime Minister sent ministers and high officials along with a carcade to the colony wnere Nanda lived and it was then that people knew who the man actually was. The lanbdlord bowed at the former Prime Minister’s feet and prayed for pardon.

The ministers and officials’ urgings resulted in the former two-time Prime Minister and central cabinet minister through several terms, with, “What is the use of such facilities for an old man?”

Gulzarilal Nanda, till his last breath, led a life of common citizens in true Gandhian manner. He was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna in 1997. A true tribute to a human being who believed in ‘Simple Living and High Thinking.’


  1. Please do not play with facts!

    It is true that Gulzarilal Nanda led frugal life after retirement, despite being a 5 time MP, the Home Minister, and the interim Prime Minister on 2 occasions. He died in 1998 at the age of 99.

    But he never had to stay at a rented house (let alone get thrown out by the house owner)! He had 2 sons and a daughter.

    Gulzarilal Nanda had spent his last eight years in the house of his only daughter Pushpa, in Navrangpura, Ahmedabad (he was bedridden after an accident).

  2. True that many news papers reported this icident-prbably as a chain reaction. This looks like distortion of facts and just dramatisation. Even kids will not belive this.. but the fact is that many grown ups belive this, due to the facts that this was reported by many..

  3. Mr Nanda refused to continue as home minister when intelligence bureau was removed by Indira Gandhi.
    She had insulted and harassed too many seniors during her 1966-77 tenure. It was the silent suffering of the innocent satwik people, which became a curse

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