Archives of Contemporary India

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Gopalkrishna Gandhi Papers

Gopalkrishna Gandhi Papers

"It is of vital importance that freedom of thought and expression, and freedom of speech and writing, be exercised fearlessly in our country. Fear is a great evil and is completely inconsistent with democracy and republicanism."

A diplomat and renowned academic, Gopalkrishna Gandhi (born 1945) is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. After graduating from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, he joined the Indian Civil Services in 1968 and served in Tamil Nadu till 1985. He served as Secretary to the Vice-President of India (1985-1987) and Joint Secretary to the President of India (1987-1992).

Gopalkrishna Gandhi took voluntary retirement from the IAS in 1992. He set up the Nehru Centre in London for Indo-British collaboration in cultural, literary and academic fields and was its Director (1992-1996).

He served as High Commissioner of India to South Africa and Lesotho (1996), Secretary to President of India (1997-2000), High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka (2000), Ambassador of India to Norway and Iceland (2002), and Governor of West Bengal (2004- 2009). He was given the additional charge of the Governor of Bihar for a few months in 2006.

Gopalkrishna Gandhi was Chairman of the Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla and Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai (2011-2014). He received the Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Award of the University of Mysore in 2016, the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award in 2016 and the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award in 2018.

He received honorary degrees from the University of Natal, South Africa (1999), University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (2001), University of North Orissa, India (2012), and University of Calcutta, India (2019).

An independent thinker and a prolific writer, Gopalkrishna Gandhi has authored several books including a novel, Saranam (Refuge) (2010), and a play Dara Shukoh (2010). Other acclaimed publications include Gandhi Is Gone, Who Will Guide Us Now? (2007), Of a Certain Age: Twenty Life-Sketches (2011), My Dear Bapu – Correspondence between C. Rajagopalachari and Mohandas K. Gandhi (2012), Abolishing the Death Penalty: Why India Should Say No to Capital Punishment (2016), Gandhi: Essential Writings (Oxford India Collection) (2018), A Frank Friendship, Gandhi and Bengal: A Descriptive Chronology (ed. 2019), Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi: Restless as Mercury - My Life as a Young Man (ed. 2021), and Scorching Love: Letters from Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to his son Devadas (with Tridip Suhrud, 2022). He has also translated Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy into Hindi (Koi Achchha Sa Ladka). He is a columnist for Hindustan Times (New Delhi) and Telegraph (Kolkata).

Gopalkrishna Gandhi is a Distinguished Professor of History and Politics, Ashoka University, Sonepat, Haryana (India), and Meera and Vikram Gandhi Fellow (Spring 2020), Center for Contemporary South Asia, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University, USA.

About the Collection: The papers relate to Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s tenure as High Commissioner in South Africa and Sri Lanka, and as Governor of West Bengal. There is very useful material collected by him for his books, and a rare collection of the papers of H.S. L. Polak and his associates. There are also articles by him, tributes to eminent personalities, interviews, press clippings, messages and forewords to books. Paramount among these documents are the papers of Parvathi Krishnan that contain very rare correspondence of Mahatma Gandhi pertaining to the national movement with her father P. Subbarayan and C. Rajagopalachari, Devadas Gandhi and Harilal Gandhi

(Catalogue I available) 

(Catalogue II available)

Donor: Gopalkrishna Gandhi
Acquisition: 2017 & 2018