This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Interview with Tushar Gandhi, Author of “Let’s Kill Gandhi”, Activist, Great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Tushar Gandhi is the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and the son of Journalist Arun Manilal Gandhi. He is the author of the book Let’s Kill Gandhi. He runs the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation and has been appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador of the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition, IIMSAM. He is a peace activist and has worked against Child Trafficking.

Our correspondent Shraddha Sankhe got a chance to interview him and ask him questions about himself, the controversies and Mahatma Gandhi.

Below is the interview, un-cut.

A doctor’s son/grandson aspires to be a doctor. Same applies to lawyers. As the great grandson of some one of the stature of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi-why are you not involved in active politics? Why do you call yourself a failed politician?

You must understand that even in case of professions the hereditary is due to the influence exerted not part of the DNA make up. Otherwise our profession determining gene would have been identified. So I do not subscribe to the school which says that a Doctor’s heir will be medical practitioner only. Having said that with Bapu there was never a design to bequest the political mantle on his biological heirs and so he did not groom any of his four sons to take over his mantle and since the link was broken at the very first generation it did not continue any further. Some of us has got the itch and have tried our hands. Sumatra Kulkarni My aunt and my father’s cousin was a member of the Rajya Sabha, and then she tried to lobby for a nomination in the presidential election and failed. Another cousin of my father’s, Rajmohan Gandhi stood and lost against Rajeev Gandhi from Amethi when V. P. Singh fought the election on the Anti Bofors plank he was soon disillusioned and quit politics. I was desperate to have a political career at one stage I stood for election from the Mumbai Northwest Constituency on a joint Samajwadi Party and Congress ticket in 1998. I fought against Madhukar Sarpotdar of the Shiv Sena. I lost by 18,000.00 votes. I survived in politics for two more years and then called it quits realizing that I did not have the requisite abilities in me to become a successful politician under the prevalent conditions and so I have to honestly admit that I am a failed politician. No, Mahatma is not a result of a gene, it is not an inheritable quality or attribute. It is earned, not inherited.

Grandchildren inherit the qualities of their grandparents. What qualities have you inherited from Mahatma Gandhi?

The quality that made him a Mahatma is again not due to a gene or encoded into his DNA and so it is not inheritable. He attained the status of Mahatma because of his work and his spirit and so expecting any of us to have inherited any of those qualities is a bit of a impossible ask and expectation. I always ask my audiences to accept a great grandson not a Mahatma. If I am proud of a quality I feel I have inherited from both my great grandparents is the quality of persistence and the ability to judge people from behind the masks they wear to conceal their real self. We all do that and not many have the ability to look through the mask and see the real person. I have also inherited the ability to persevere with the task taken in hand and not give up no matter how daunting and challenging it may become. From Kasturba I have inherited the quality of being steadfast and practical not in the compromising sense of the word but in the sense of being able to put things in their correct perspective. From both of them I have learned the ability of being true with myself which in turn helps make me be honest with others.

How much of an advantage or a disadvantage has it been carrying the surname Gandhi with your name?

The legacy brings with it responsibilities and expectations as your first question indicates. But honestly speaking the advantages that come along with the legacy far outweigh any disadvantage.

A great leader, great philosopher, lawyer, a scholar and a practitioner of peace and non-violence-Bapu-did not get Nobel Peace Prize which he truly deserved. It is a loss to not just the Gandhi family but also to India as a nation. What is your opinion?

I believe that the loss is that of the Nobel Peace Prize itself. Bapu did not care for any awards or recognitions. By associating with Bapu- the Nobel Peace Prize would have acquired a certain stature and credibility today it has lost out on it. I very strongly believe that the Nobel Peace Prize was at a loss not having been associated with Bapu.

What made you write Let’s Kill Gandhi-the book?

I was always angered by the campaign of lies launched by the Sangh Parivaar to justify Bapu’s murder and I felt that it was my responsibility to tell the real story of how Bapu was murdered to the nation which had grown up listening to the propaganda of misinformation and this anger finally took the shape of ‘Let’s Kill Gandhi!’

Wasn’t it more of an ideology (the anger against certain policies of Gandhiji) and less of an individual (Nathuram Godse-the Brahmin) who assassinated him?

It was a result of extreme prejudice, irrational belief and a clever manipulation of an misdirected outrage that combined to use Nathuram as the assassin. Anger against policies of Bapu was a convenient excuse, but it was a very lame excuse. His being a Brahmin and all the persons closely involved in the conspiracy being Brahmins from Poona was may be a coincidence.

Was Nathuram Godse a mad man? Or was he driven by a radical ideology? What must have Nathuram Godse and his family gained in assassinating Bapu?

Nathuram Godse was a psychologically troubled person, he was prone to extreme rage and harbored a pathological hatred for anyone who did not believe in his ideology. He had a record of very violent outbursts against those he considered his opponents and those who he considered rivals. These traits were exploited by his masters and he was very expertly maneuvered to a point where he became the assassin. Nathuram earned the veneration of people who till today subscribe to the ideology of hate and revenge. Amongst the Sanghi circles he is eulogized as Pandit Nathuram the martyr. From the point of view of those who subscribe to the same ideology of hatred, he was an idealist and inspiration but in reality he was a pathological killer, a common murderer. His family suffered the consequences of his act. I remember visiting the home of Gopal Godse in the early seventies soon after his release from prison. My grand mother wished to meet Gopal and Sindhutai his wife. She wanted to convey to them that Bapu’s family had forgiven them. I was extremely perplexed as to why we were doing it, How could we forgive some one who showed no remorse who did not repent the dastardly deed, but I did not have a say in the matter. I remember that Sindhutai was very bitter having had to live through the phase when her husband was in prison and she and her children had been abandoned. I remember Gopal Godse being very critical of how even their ideological supporters and colleagues had distanced themselves from the family at that time. It was only when in the late 80s the Sangh Parivaar came out of the closet that they started celebrating the legacy of Nathuram Godse, the murderer.

Have you encountered teachers whose ideologies lay contrarian to Gandhiji’s and how did they project it to you?

Till the 10th standard I studied in a school run by very eminent Gandhians and freedom fighters so I did not come across any teachers who were anti Gandhi or as you say whose ideologies lay contrarian to Bapu. In college I remember there were professors who were Nickerwalas but they steered clear of having any ideological or political discussions with me but I sensed the hostility. But I have many Nickerwala friends and contrary to expectations we do not fight continuously we respectfully tolerate each other’s belief and ensure that our deferring ideologies do not clash or come in the way of our friendship.

What is the Gandhi family like today? How much of M.K Gandhi’s ideology does the average Gandhi clan member agree with or follow?

The Gandhi family is very like any other large clan or family. There are many of my relatives I have never met and may not even recognize if we were not introduced. It would be very difficult to quantify how much of Bapu’s ideology each one of us has imbibed. If you ask me I myself don’t know how much of his ideology I have imbibed. In my day to day life I don’t audit all my actions to find out how much of it confirms with the ideology and philosophy of Bapu. But when the chips are down and when faced with certain situations or in performing major tasks or when faced with a crises Gandhian philosophy and ideology has come in very handy so have Gandhian methods.

Tell us something about the family, the children. How did it feel reading about Gandhiji in books while growing up? What was your first reaction to Gandhiji’s reference as the Father of the Nation as a child?

Ba and Bapu had four sons Harilal, Manilal my grandfather, Ramdas and Devadas. We are roughly about a hundred and twenty living descendants from them. I was made aware of my legacy and my ancestry very early in life and so did not react when I found my great grandfather being featured in text books or in books or movies and documentaries. It was a naturally accepted fact. I remember that in school in the History class when we were studying our freedom movement every one took it for granted that I was the ultimate authority on the subject, so much so that even the teacher deferred to me. I once created a major scandal in school when without realizing it very flippantly and carelessly while answering a question I said that India gained independence in 1948 instead of 1947. I immediately realized my mistake and corrected myself but my whole school went into a state of shock. I was almost lynched. The matter was reported to my principal who was reduced to tears and my parents were called to school and I kept repeating that It was a slip of the tongue but no explanation was good enough for any of them. Till the day he dies my principal did not forgive me for that mistake I had committed. Since I had been sensitized to my ancestry I was also aware of all the titles bestowed on Bapu and so him being referred to as the Father of the Nation was not surprising or overbearing for me.

You’ve been termed as the Great Grandson who is ‘Marketing the Mahatma’ or someone who is ‘Busy Branding Bapu’. How do you react to these statements? Ref: the Mont Blanc controversy.

I will have to live with these jibes for the rest of my life and I am not bothered by the criticism and venom directed towards me. I know why I am doing certain things. I am not marketing Bapu. Bapu’s image is much in demand for endorsing products and companies. I only police its usage. By keeping the right to refusal I control the abuse of his image. In allowing the use of his image by certain products or corporations I ensure that they are not involved in any activity which is contrary to his belief and philosophy. I also believe that by charging for the use of his image funds can be garnered for a good cause there is no harm in doing so. I have never solicited fees for the use of his image for personal enrichment whenever a fee has been paid it is to a registered NGO engaged in some work which is in conformation with the spirit of Bapu’s belief and ideology. I do not believe that only some people can pay tributes to Bapu. I saw no harm in Mont Blanc bringing out a limited edition commemorative pen honoring Bapu and the money the donated went towards building a school for rescued child laborers near Kolhapur. I don’t see why then it was wrong just because Mont Blanc is a manufacturer of luxury goods?

You’ve been associated with United Nations’ Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition. And you’re involved in peace projects against Child Trafficking. Can you tell more about these?

Spirulina is a highly nutritious algae which is very effective in fighting malnutrition and in treating children suffering from acute malnutrition. I joined the initiative because I believe that starvation is one of the most violent form of poverty and invariably the victims are children and so I associated with IIMSAM which is active in Africa and Latin America, I believe that India too needs to embrace this program to alleviate the misery of its starving millions. My association with IIMSAM is in the nascent stage at the moment but I am sure one day we will be able to make a difference in the lives of Poorest of poor and the weakest of weak in India. Since I am the most publicly seen descendant many causes working in fields of Peace and non violence wish to gain acceptance by associating with the Gandhi image and so they invite me to associate with their projects and bring the Gandhi stamp with me. After satisfying myself that the work is being done ethically and with sincerity and honesty I associate with such projects one such project is the Seeds of Peace program which is jointly conducted by an NGO and the American Center For the past ten years we have been sending children from schools in Mumbai to attend a camp in Main, USA for six weeks where they interact with children from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, Cyprus, Palestine, Israel etc. and learn to see each other as human beings instead of enemies. The program has made a difference to the outlook of the children who have been to those camps and it has rubbed off on their parents, siblings and peers too. The Mahatma Gandhi Foundation headed by me and the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute established by my father in the US are collaborating to establish a school and shelter for rescued child laborers in Kolhapur. Poverty imperils children the most and majority of the children trafficked are because of the extreme poverty faced by their parents. The situation is so perilous that the children are eventually trafficked into the sex trades or into a life of crime. They need to be removed from the perilous circumstances and placed in a safe haven where they can be nurtured and equipped with a suitable education and vocation before they can become productive members of the society.

Considering the present day scenario, how do you think we can, “Be the change” – as Gandhiji used to say?

The present scenario does not preclude one from becoming the catalyst of change by changing oneself but the present scenario faced by the youth today makes it imperative that they become the agents of change by first changing themselves. At one time I had designed a line of t-shirts with quotes of Bapuji the most popular one was the one with the slogan ‘ An ounce of practice is more effective than a ton of preaching’ young people lapped up t-shirts with that slogan. That quotation means the same as ‘be the change’. If one were to take corruption for instance, corruption is a two way street, the giver is as guilty as the one who demands the bribe. Like it is said in the trade of endangered animal products, the slogan ‘When the buying stops, the killing will.’ So will it be in case of corruption, when the giving stops the demands will also diminish. Take for example when one violates traffic rules and is caught, instead of accepting a fine the general reaction is to bribe the constable. The youth will have to change and become inspirations for others and when others see the difference they bring about they will follow and that is how lasting change is achieved and is sustained.

Do let us know what you think of Tushar Gandhi’s answers. You can drop us a comment below or tweet us at @YouthKiAwaaz. To ask questions to Tushar you can drop them below or mail us at

Image courtesy:

You must be to comment.
  1. Arastu

    Excellent Shraddha. Congrats to you and the YKA team. The entire aura and history surrounding Gandhiji is so immense and complex that it feels good whenever glimpses of reality shine out from within the aura.

  2. Shraddha Sankhe

    Thank you so much! 🙂



  4. S R Wakankar

    What I feel is that Congress leaders while negotiating transfer of power in the last phase ignored Gandhi.If they had not done so,and listened to his advice as they had always done erlier,situation would have been something quite different.
    Bapu was not a party to the biggest folly of partition.He had declared that before division of the country, his body would be divided.This was the level of his nationalism and convictions.But Patel/Nehru acted differently-Nehru particularly was in a hurry to become PM- and accepted the Mountbatten Plan. Gandhiji left Delhi and was far away when India became free.He did not celebrate independence, what a tragedy !
    At the most crucial moment, he was sidetracked and not listened to.This would always be a riddle of history.
    -S R Wakankar

  5. Kannan

    Great, both the interviewer and the interviewed! Loved the candidness with which things were spoken. Nice to know that Mr. Tushar Gandhi understands and respects the Mahatma so well. Warm regards.

  6. Tảo Spirulina

    Thanks for another insightful web site. The place altogether different could I get this sort of data designed in this sort of great signifies? I’ve a quest that i am purely currently working on, i are already at the peek outside intended for this kind of facts.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By The Third Eye

By Godhuli Barat

By Sofia Babu Chacko

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below