A week after the martyrdom on 30th January, 1948 of Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, one of the historic decisions taken at the working committee of All India Congress Committee was to create a national trust in his memory- to be called the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, i.e., the ‘Gandhi National Memorial Trust’. To implement this decision, a eleven Trustee Provisional Committee, headed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then Congress President, and with Acharya J.B. Kirpalani and Shri J.C. Kumarappa as Secretaries, was set up. Other Trustees of the Provisional Committee- the Gandhi National Memorial Committee, as it was called-were; Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shri C. Rajagopalachari, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Shri Jagjivan Ram, Shri Devdas Gandhi and Shri Devdas Gandhi and Shri Jairamdas Daulatram.

Shortly after the formation of this Committee, Dr. Rajendra Prasad sent out an appeal to the nation to come forward with unstinted help to enrich and enlarge the Memorial Fund that has been bought into being. In the appeal, he suggested that every individual might contribute at least ten days’ income. The main propose of the Trust he explained was “to further manifold constructive activities in which Gandhi was interested and such other activities of a like nature which give concrete shape to his ideas.” The Trust funds and resources were also to be used for collecting, preserving and propagating his teachings and to maintain a museum where articles connected with his life and work would be preserved.

The campaign for the collection of donations for the Trust was inaugurated during the nation week from 6 to 13 April of 1948, a week that had come to be observed every year the memory of the Jallianwal Bagh massacre. Although the collections, in general, ceased by about the first anniversary of Gandhiji’s martyrdom, the onerous job of centralizing and accounting the hundreds of thousands of donations was not an easy one and it took nearly four years to complete the whole thing. When at least the job was over, the collections had amounted to Rs. 10,98,26,106.95 (Ten crores ninety eight lacs twenty nine thousand one hundred six and paisa ninety five) only. Along with the participation of the masses, the industries of the country contributed Rs. 5,28,00,000/- (Five crores twenty eight lacs) only to the total fund mentions above through a committee under the Chairman/Chairpersonship of Shri Kasturbhai Lalbhai. In the collection drive, the name of Shri J.C. Kumarappa deserves special mention. Acting as the Secretary of the National Collection Committee, he took personal interest in every detail of the work.

At its next meeting in December 1948, the Provisional Committee approved with certain modifications, the draft Trust Deed as prepared by Shri Pakvasa and amended by Constitution Sub-Committee. A five-man committee consisting of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and Acharya Kripalani, was also empowered to name the Trustee. In February 1949. After due deliberations, this committee nominated twenty four Trustee from among eminent political, social and industrial leaders, who were either close to Gandhiji’s life and work or who were otherwise prominently associated with the raising of the Fund. In March, the Trustees elected from among themselves Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the Chairman/Chairperson of the Trust, and in April they executed the Deed of the Declaration of Trust. The meeting elected Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as Vice-Chairman/Chairperson and eight other as Trustees of executive for three years. Besieds the above the two, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Shri Shankar Rao, Shri O.P. Birla, Doctor Jakir Hussain, Smt. Sucheta Kripalani, Shri A.S. Jhakkar, Shri Krishan Das Jaju and Smt. Yasodhara Dasppa had been elected as Trustees while Shri Laxmi Das Purushottam was an ex-officio member as the secretary of the Nidhi. Shri G.V. Mavalankar, Shri Laxmi Narain and Shir Mahavir Poddar were co-opted as Trustees.

The Trust Deed detailed the objectives of the Nidhi under twelve board heads. There were calculated to propagate the ideas of Gandhiji, to perpetuate his memory in various ways and to continue the work that he had started.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *