Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson and ex-NASA scientist Kanubhai Gandhi died at a private hospital in the city on Monday. He was 87.
Kanubhai had suffered cardiac arrest and stroke and had been hospitalised for nearly a fortnight. He was under coma for last few days.
On Monday, after his wife Shivalaxmi gave her consent, Kanubhai was taken off the ventilator support.
Prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Pained by the demise of Kanubhai Gandhi, the grandson of Gandhiji. Remembering my various interactions with him. May his soul rest in peace.”
Dhimant Badiya, who runs a khadi-outlet opposite Gandhi Ashram said, “After coming from US, Kanu Dada lived in Gandhi Ashram for nine months last year. It was his wish to die in his grandfather’s house but sadly that was not to be as he was shifted to Bochasan and later to Delhi old age home before returning to Surat.”
Gujarat Congress president also expressed condolences on demise of Kanubhai.
Kanubhai is the boy in the famous photograph where a little boy is seen pulling Mahatma Gandhi’s walking stick and leading him on a brisk beachside walk. He was born to Ramdas, Bapu’s third son, in 1928.
He was the favourite grandson of Gandhiji. It is said that he was the only one who shared food with Mahatma from his plate and always shared the rear seat with him during his travels.
He was barely 17 years when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in Delhi. In his final years, Bapu had a special fondness for Kanubhai who had been supervising his formal education since he was three years old.
But life changed after Bapu’s death. Soon, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel met US Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith and sent Kanubhai to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to study applied mathematics. After marriage, Kanu and his wife Shivalaxmi lived in Hampton, Virginia, in USA where he worked at the NASA’s Langley Research Centre.
Shivalaxmi taught biochemistry at Boston. Kanubhai claimed that he worked for the US government’s defence department and researched on aircraft wing structures. After spending considerable amount of his life in US, Kanubhai and Shivalaxmi returned to India.The couple came to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad in May last year and were provided accommodation. They stayed at the Ashram for six months and then shifted to Gujarat Vidyapith’s rural campus where they were accommodated for four months. It was after this that the couple shifted to on old age home on the outskirts of Delhi called the Guru Vishram Vridh Ashram. After staying there for few days the couple came back to a Surat old age home.
“Kanubhai was uncomfortable in Delhi ashram so they came to old age home in Surat. But he spent most of his time at my house and my worksplace,” said Parimal Desai, a builder and sarvodaya worker who runs a school in Surat’s Bhatar area.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was his college mate in the US and used to have frequent dialogues with him, trying to impress on ways of Indian way of achieving independence.
Known to be temperamental in nature, Kanubhai and his wife Shivalaxmi never wanted to be a burden on anyone and so always preferred to live in old age homes during their life in India