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KM Munshi – The Freedom Fighter Of India’s Intellectual League

Kanhaiyalal Maniklal Munshi, the freedom fighter became the member of Swaraj Party and was a well-known figure during the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. He remained imprisoned due to his involvement in Salt Satyagraha and later became the member of the Bombay Legislative Assembly to serve as the Home Minister in the first Congress Government in 1934. At the same time, he was one of the prominent figures of Gujarati Literature.

Kanhaiyalal Maniklal Munshi was born on December 30, 1887, at Bharuch in Gujarat and completed his education at Baroda College. After getting a degree in law, he started practicing law in Bombay High Court. He was greatly inspired by his teacher Sri Aurobindo Ghosh during his college days and decided to join politics as the member of the Subjects Committee of the Indian National Congress. Subsequently, he became the member of Swaraj Party, joined the Home Rule League, became the Joint Editor of Young India and remained as the member of the Bombay Legislative Council.

In 1930, the British Government imprisoned Kanhaiyalal Maniklal Munshi for his involvement on Salt Satyagraha. He was again imprisoned in Bijapur for two years in 1932 and rejoined as the member of the Bombay Legislative Assembly after his release and served as the Home Minister in the first Congress Government in 1934. He got arrested again for his active participation in the Quit India Movement that started in 1942.

All through his life, he continued to be a great educationalist, who worked tirelessly to disseminate education across the country. He established Gujarati Sahitya Sansad and was the President of the Panchgani Education Society. Maharaja Gaekwad of Baroda appointed him as the Member of the Baroda University Commission and held many significant posts at the Bombay University.

In 1938 he set up the prestigious Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan institution in Bombay where he remained as the President until his death. In 1946 he got selected as a member of the Experts’ Committee of the constituent assembly of India and played an important role in drafting the Indian constitution.

Being a member of Flag Committee, he helped in the selection of the National Flag of India in 1947. He also served as the Agent-General of the Government of India in princely state Hyderabad. He became the Minister for Food & Agriculture in 1952 in Nehru’s cabinet during which he introduced Vanmahotsav (tree plantation) and tried his best to encourage forestation in India to increase forest area.

He served the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 1952 to 1957 after which he left the Congress party to form Swatantrata Party with Chakravarti Rajgopalachari and remained as the vice president of this party. He later joined the Jan Sangh.

Apart from his political career, starting as a freedom fighter, Kanhaiyalal Maniklal Munshi remained as one of the prominent figures of Gujarati Literature. He was associated with a monthly magazine BHARGAVA and wrote over 125 books in English, Hindi and Gujarati that included novels, short stories, biographies as well as an autobiography. “Mari Kamala’, ‘Vern Vasulat’, ‘Kono-Vank’, ‘Patan-ni-Prabhuta’, ‘Gujarat-no-Nath’, ‘Prithvi Vallabh’, ‘Rajadhi Raj’, ‘Kakani Shashi’, ‘Gujarat & Its Literature’, ‘I Follow the Mahatma’, ‘Akhand Hindustan’, ‘The Glory that was Gurjaradesa’, ‘Imperial Gurjars’, ‘Bhagvadgita & Modern Life’, ‘Gandhi the Master’, ‘The End of an Era’, ‘Krishnavatara’ are some of his major works in Literature. This great patriotic fellow of India died on February 8, 1971.

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Written by Debopam Bannerjee

Breathes biotechnology, feeds content to e-hungry beings. Watch out if you see me with a camera.