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Mridula Sarabhai

(1911 – 1974) – (Gujarart)

Mridula Sarabhai (Aged 63) was born on May 6, 1911, in Ahmedabad, India, into an affluent business family. She was one of eight children of Ambalal Sarabhai and Sarla Devi, and a sister of Vikram Sarabhai. Mridula was an Indian independence activist and politician, and a member of the Sarabhai industrialist family of Ahmedabad.

She was home-schooled by a succession of British and Indian teachers under the supervision of her parents. In 1928, she was enrolled for college education at Gujarat Vidyapeeth but dropped out the following year, ostensibly to participate in the Salt Satyagraha. At a young age, she heeded Gandhi’s call to boycott foreign goods and institutions and refused to go abroad to study.

Mridula came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi at an early age. As a child of ten, she worked with the Vanara Sena (a group of child activists organized by Indira Gandhi) of the Congress and carried messages and water for the satyagrahis. She helped with the organization of the Youth Conference in Rajkot in 1927, influenced by Jawaharlal Nehru, who became her lifelong friend and mentor. She joined the Congress Seva Dal during the Salt Satyagraha and organized the boycott of foreign cloth and British goods. She was even imprisoned by the British for her role in salt satyagraha.

In 1946, Pandit Nehru appointed her as one of the General Secretaries of the Congress party and a member of the Congress Working Committee. She resigned and followed Gandhiji to Noakhali when riots broke out. During the turbulent year of Partition of India, she took an active lead in restoring communal amity and harmony, firstly at Patna, where she was attending the flag hoisting ceremony on 15 August 1947, with permission from Gandhiji.

When she heard of riots being broken in Punjab, she immediately contacted Nehru and later rushed there to take an active role in peacekeeping. Her role in preserving communal harmony during the violence of partition was praised by leaders from India and Pakistan. She passed away by 26 October 1974.