The power of journalism

Nanda's story caught the attention of the local press, and soon it became a national news story. The media highlighted the plight of one of India's most respected and accomplished citizens, who was being thrown out of his home because he couldn't afford the rent

I read this story in Urdu on Facebook about how a reporter saw a helpless 90-year-old man sitting on a footpath, and later his story created a storm in India.

This is the story of Gulzarilal Nanda.

Who is Gulzarilal Nanda?

Gulzarilal Nanda was a towering figure in India’s political history, serving as interim prime minister twice. However, before his meteoric rise to the top, Nanda had to face numerous struggles, including being thrown out of his rented home in New Delhi.

Nanda was born on July 4, 1898, in Sialkot. He graduated from Punjab University and later joined the non-cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. Nanda was jailed several times for participating in the freedom struggle and even served a prison term in Lahore.

After Partition, Nanda joined the Congress Party and was appointed as a member of the Constituent Assembly, which drafted India’s constitution. Nanda was also appointed as the Labour Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet, a position he held for 14 years.

In the early 1950s, India was still recovering from the trauma of the partition and the struggle for independence. It was a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, and for many people, life was a constant struggle. Gulzarilal Nanda, who later went on to become the interim Prime Minister of India, was one such person.

At the time, Nanda was a professor of economics at a college in Mumbai. He was also a prominent member of the Indian National Congress and had worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi during the independence movement. Despite his illustrious background, however, Nanda was facing a difficult situation.

He and his family were living in a rented house in Mumbai, and the landlord had decided to evict them. Nanda’s income as a professor was not enough to afford a new home, and he was facing the prospect of being homeless with his wife and two young children.

Nanda’s story caught the attention of the local press, and soon it became a national news story. The media highlighted the plight of one of India’s most respected and accomplished citizens, who was being thrown out of his home because he couldn’t afford the rent.

The story struck a chord with the people of India, many of whom were struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the partition and the economic challenges of the time. The public outcry was intense, with many people expressing their anger and frustration at the injustice of Nanda’s situation.

The story also caught the attention of India’s political leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister. Nehru was deeply moved by Nanda’s situation and personally intervened to help him. He arranged for Nanda to be given a new home in Mumbai and ensured that his family was taken care of.

Nanda later recounted the experience in an interview, saying, “I will never forget the kindness that Jawaharlal Nehru showed to me and my family. He understood the struggles that ordinary people were facing, and he went out of his way to help us. I will always be grateful to him for that.”

The incident had a profound impact on Nanda, who had already been committed to social justice and economic equality. It reinforced his belief that politicians should be responsive to the needs of the people and should work tirelessly to improve their lives.

In the years that followed, Nanda continued to be involved in politics and public service. He served as a member of Parliament, a Union Cabinet Minister, and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. He was also appointed as the interim Prime Minister of India twice, first in 1964 following the death of Nehru, and again in 1966 following the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Throughout his career, Nanda remained committed to his ideals of social justice and economic equality. He was a tireless advocate for the poor and marginalized, and he worked hard to improve the lives of ordinary Indians. His commitment to these values was inspired in part by his own experiences of struggle and hardship, including the incident when he was thrown out of his rented home.

Nanda passed away in 1998 at the age of 99, but his legacy lives on. He is remembered as a committed public servant who worked tirelessly for the betterment of his country and his people. His story of struggle and triumph over adversity serves as an inspiration to millions of Indians who continue to face similar challenges today.

In a country where the divide between the rich and the poor is still vast, Nanda’s story is a reminder of the importance of compassion, empathy, and a deep commitment to social justice. It is a testament to the resilience and strength of the human spirit, and a call to action for those who seek to build a more just and equitable society.