The President's Writings

गाथा - Storytelling Festival

16th February 2023

Dear Friends

We are celebrating Gaatha, a storytelling festival beginning at 5 pm tomorrow (Friday the 17th of February).

In 1995, Amrita and I were travelling in the Canadian Yukon.  Driving towards the town of Whitehorse.  On the way, we met a young woman on her way to the Whitehorse storytelling festival.  We had no idea what to expect, but we also went there to see what this was all about.  It was mesmerizing.

There were storytellers from all over.  From Native American storytellers to a storyteller from Boston who superbly used the Harmonica while he told his story.  We said to ourselves that it would be nice to have such festivals in India.

Stories are what we grow up with.  My नानी would tell me stories before I went to bed.  And I would tell my children imaginary stories of different parts of the world - on earth and beyond, while putting them to sleep.

Stories are also what helps us remember the past, and reinvent the future.  Stories give us solace, stories entertain, stories inspire, stories help tradition go from one generation to the next.  

This is why we have teamed up with the Mumbai Storytellers Society to organise Gaatha - गाथा। Storytellers from around India and from around the world will be on our Vidyavihar campus to tell us stories.  The details of the conference are at

Please attend the conference and take advantage of this unique festival.

The opening event is at 5 pm tomorrow at the Gargi Plaza and I look forward to welcoming you there.  The festival continues over the weekend.


Preserving our built and written heritage

27th January 2023

Many of us may have spent time at the Kutchi Haveli on the Somaiya Vidyavihar campus, or even the building at the K J Somaiya College of Physiotherapy in Somaiya Ayurvihar.  Both these structures have been built using 'recycled' parts of buildings that were removed to make way for modern construction in the areas where they were located.  They represent a wonderful aesthetic that shows our earlier sensitivity to art and architecture.

My family comes from the village of Tera in Kutch.  Temples, a Derasar, a Mosque and even a small fort.  Outside homes, there is often a stone vessel where families may keep food for passing cows, dogs and cats.   

Tera also has three lovely water tanks.  One for drinking water, another for bathing and one for washing clothes. 

And a lovely step well.

Many villages in Kutch still retain buildings that have their old architecture.  I typically visit once or twice a year.  On every visit, I see an old house that does not exist anymore.  Or an old practice that is forgotten (the street that leads to our home now has a gate on it, to prevent cows from coming in - even though there are still the stone vessels that were once created to feed them).  With these changes or loss goes the memory of a past aesthetic, of past methods of construction, of ways of living, and so much more.  What can one do?

On one such visit to Tera, I asked the Sarpanch whether the village had a library.  The Sarpanch mentioned that there once was a library, but he did not believe that anyone had even opened it in many years. Libraries are windows to the world.  Of the past, present, and dreams into the future.  Books of various times, places and languages transport us to a wider world that we may not otherwise have an opportunity to visit.  

Putting these two thoughts together, I asked whether there were any homes that were in a dilapidated condition that we could adopt and convert into village libraries.  And we did.  So we worked hard to restore this place and put together our first सोमैया पुस्तकालय in Kutch.  And it has become a wonderful place.  Used by children and adults alike.

And then we started on our second - in Roha.  We came across a place that was falling apart.  

The owner of the place also allowed us to adopt his place and we started working on this two years ago.  Last weekend, we inaugurated it and once again dedicated the space as a library for the village.  A young girl I met there who was only 11 years old had started coming to the library even before inauguration, began reading books, and retelling the stories to her classmates.  How amazing!!

Donors have given us books.  Many of them are in Gujarati.  These are not read much in Mumbai, but it is the language of instruction in Kutch.  In Tera, the librarian showed me a book that was published in 1903.  Wonderful literature.  Literature that we must also read in addition to current literature.  

I think that in this effort, there are many learning opportunities.  The preservation of an old aesthetic.  In Europe when we travel, we marvel at the beauty of the old buildings and of their villages.  In a modern Indian village, there are no remnants of our history.  The ability to build and construct in an old style, to understand the pros and cons of those materials and methods as compared to what we are taught now has to remain alive.  Only then can we adapt to our context and climate.  And these have to be brought into our curriculum.

We have started building a campus in Adipur Kutch to understand these methods.  Of masonry, or woodworking, and to create a place for the teaching of design to master craftsmen and women.  But more on that initiative in another email.  But here I would like to show some images of the new campus we are building, with that old aesthetic in Kutch.

Other places in these villages are becoming available to us for additional 'public' uses.  We are contemplating the restoration of these spaces either for the making of tinkering labs and/or spaces of primary health.  Tinkering labs will be an interesting initiative.  To restore an old place of the past to catalyse a thinking place to invent the future.  Our shared heritage and our common tomorrow.

With the hope of a more beautiful tomorrow.

81st Foundation Day

28th December 2022

Dear Friends,

On the first of December, we celebrated our 81st Foundation Day.  The weather was lovely and the day was bright.

Why the 81st?  Earlier, we took 1959 as the year of Founding.  Now, we take this year to be 1942.  The Vice Chancellor of Somaiya Vidyavihar University, Dr. Pillai has always maintained that the date of founding of any institution is not the 'legal' date of its incorporation, but the date of the first activity in this domain.

The first initiative in education undertaken by our Founder, Padmabhushan Shri K. J. Somaiya was starting a school in 1942 in rural Maharashtra, in Sakarwadi (Kopargaon Taluka). I agreed with the logic of our VC, and therefore, this was our 81st Founder's day.

This is earlier than when India gained independence from the British.  It was in a spirit of nation building, and we continue our journey on that path to build a stronger nation.

We invited Shri Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the Director General of the Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya - Mumbai to address us.  His talk was very interesting, inspiring and provocative.  He made many observations, provided insights and gave directions for the future.

He complimented Somaiya Vidyavihar for our efforts to invest in the humanities, arts and culture.  He quoted Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore 'Education means enabling the mind to find out that ultimate truth which emancipates us from the  bondage of dust, and gives us wealth, not things but inner light, not of power but of love, it is a process of enlightenment, it is divine wealth, it helps in realisation of truth '  'Teaching must be one with culture, spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, economic and social.  True education is to realise at every step how our training and knowledge have an organic connection with our surroundings.'

He said that our Founder has created a little Shantiniketan in suburban Mumbai.  This was the best compliment I would hope to receive.

He spoke strongly and passionately about the adverse impacts of technology, globalisation and power politics on cultural heritage.  He said that as the world gets more globalised and homogenous and the notion of identity gets more complicated, there is a great need for places and people of diverse cultures to have places where they can see themselves and their roots, history, memories and future.  And that education institutions and museums are probably the only places for people to explore their past and to reinvent their identity in a rapidly changing world.

He spoke much more and I encourage you to see the video and my response that appears almost to respond to his concerns.

On being conferred the 'Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy'

22nd October 2022

This past week, I was conferred the 'Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy'.

I was truly honoured and humbled to receive this.  I must recognize the work of my father, Dr. Shantilal Karamshi Somaiya and the entire team at Somaiya Vidyavihar for this honour.   The Consul General - Alessandro De Masi presented me this award that was signed by the President of Italy.

Dr. Shantilal Somaiya started the tradition of reaching out.  He believed that the world deserved to be a better place (as we all do).  But he felt that the best means of trying this would be to reach out and have dialogue with others.  

When I often asked him, how do you speak to people who have 'that opinion'.  His answer always was - 'Samir - to achieve positive change, you must have dialogue with those who think differently than you.  Talking only to people who are the same as you in opinion will not result in harmonious social change.'  

And so he reached out to establish links.  Academically, culturally and spiritually.  He did much work with Italy.

It is in that tradition that I carried that tradition forward.  I have visited Italy many, many times and have also visited the Vatican three or four times.  I would like to speak about my visit to the Vatican.  

I stayed at the 'Pontifical University - Urbaniana' and was the guest of the then Rector - Father Alberto Trevisol.  He spoke no English and I spoke no Italian.  Still, with the help of a translator (Father Benedict Kanakapally) we spoke for over 6 hours in our very first meeting.  We developed a great regard for each other.  At one of our meetings, he mentioned to me that if he would have ever had a son, he would have liked him to be like me.  This is what reaching out can do.  Different cultures, different religions, different nationalities, different vocations.  I would not have imagined that we could be of one mind and think of each other as family if I would have thought of him as 'the other'.

I am deeply grateful to the Government of Italy and the Consul General for giving us this honour.  

We have been celebrating the Italian Buzz festival on our campus.  Let us keep celebrating the diversity that we all share in this world and keep trying to make it a better place.

64th Foundation Day

9th September 2022

Dear Friends

Somaiya Vidyavihar was founded on the 9th of September, 1959.  Today is our Foundation Day.  The day we were founded.  We normally celebrate on this same day, but have postponed the celebration on account of Ganesh Visarjan today.  But celebrate it, we will.

A Foundation Day is a day when we reflect on our past principles and future dreams.  In light of the current realities.

Sometimes, when I meet alumni on campus, they say to me, 'this was not there when we were students, wish we had it then'.  My response always is that we are always trying to make tomorrow better than yesterday.  

What applies to our campus also applies to our world.  It is the only world we have, and it is our world.  Climate change, sustainability and a world that we are happy to hand over to the next generation is what we have to work for.  And above all, a world that is more beautiful to live in.  In all ways.

Just last month, we created a new Centre for Regenerative Agriculture.  The ideas will be for our students and faculty to have a research site in Northern Karnataka, where we can work on soil science, sustainability, water use, farmer livelihoods, nutrition and more at scale.  We need to ensure that our farmers do well.  Our soil stays healthy.  Our food is nutritious.  Our water resources are well taken care of.  And we keep meeting our needs for food, materials and energy in a sustainable way.  Socially, financially and environmentally.

Similarly, we are working on creating a centre for studying forest ecology and conservation near the Ratapani Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.  Forests are simply beautiful.  One has to just be in one to realise what magic they hold.  And forests, their biodiversity, their majesty, their beauty must be preserved if not grown.  

And an opportunity to look at design with artisans in Kutch.  India is full of gorgeous craft and artisanal work.  In Kutch we have created a centre that works with artisans to teach them marketing and design.  To show them what the world looks like.  Similarly, we need to understand the world of natural colours, the traditional arts, the master craftsmen and women.  

All of what I have mentioned will be 'boots on the ground' initiatives under the broader Somaiya umbrella.  These are real opportunities for our students, faculty and researchers to visit, study, research and work.  To see the world in a different perspective and live the education experience differently.

A couple of months ago, Vishal Gondal (founder of GOQii) released a podcast in which he interviewed me.  The interview was recorded a year ago and in one take.  Vishal asked me a series of questions on our history and much of what he asked digs into the philosophy of our Founder Shri K J Somaiya and the founding principles of all he did.  It is a commitment we continue to follow and take forward.  Do listen!!

पुन्य तिथि of Sakarben Somaiya 18 July 1995

21st July 2022

Dear Friends

The 18th of July (Monday - a couple of days ago), is the date when Smt. Sakarben Karamshi Somaiya Passed away.  It was 1995.

Our D. Ed. College is named after her.

She was one of the Founding Trustees of Somaiya Vidyavihar.  She was the strength behind our Founder Padmabhushan K. J. Somaiya.

She always said in Kutchi - જી વડ્ડો રખજે - Have a big heart.

And she created a culture of hospitality and making one feel at home.  She truly embodied the Sanskrit - अतिथि देवो भव: - A Guest is a manifestation of God and should be treated accordingly.  But here, who is a guest - अतिथि - अ + तिथि my father used to say.  One who comes without a date.  An unannounced visitor.  And she used to treat all guests - whether announced or unannounced as equivalent to God.

In this day and age, we do not think twice about thinking, speaking or broadcasting negatively of others. 
Sant Shri Morari Bapu in a Katha a year ago spoke about her and the remorse she felt when she referred to another as a 'बेचारा'  

I do hope that we can cultivate in ourselves, a big heart, her sense of respect to all, and an ability to correct ourselves when we do what we believe to be wrong.  

I attach the video clip below.  

On Building Peace - In Memory of Dr. Shantilal Karamshi Somaiya

1st January 2022

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year to all of you.

It is the first of January 2022.  Dr. S. K. Somaiya passed away on this day, in 2010 in Australia where he had gone to speak at the Parliament of World Religions.  The Title of the lecture he was going to deliver was 'Sharing Wisdom in Search of Inner and Outer Peace'.  He led the Somaiya Trusts from 1999 till 2010.

He was ahead of his time.  He pioneered the manufacture of ethanol from sugar and the use of ethanol (renewable feedstock) as a feedstock to make biochemicals, way back in the early 1960s.  The idea of manufacturing chemicals based on renewable feedstock as a basis of sustainable development is only now finding place in the world as a means to address climate change.

In business, he is was an industrialist.  What would be considered as a 'Capitalist'.  But amongst his friends were people who would be Socialists.  he firmly believed that good capitalism implied being agents of social change and that organisations must live in and give back to the societies they serve.   Again, we hear about Corporate Social Responsibility now.  What he spoke about and did, was the responsibility of the Private Sector in working towards building a stronger and more inclusive society.

Among the many things he did, I would like to speak about his emphasis on dialogue.  He always believed that one must speak to all shades of opinion with full respect even if and especially if they had different opinions from you.  He said it was easy to retreat in one's own cosy corner, criticise and make assumptions about others whom we believe to have differing opinions.  (In today's age of social media, this is even more real - with news feeds based on one's 'preferences' automatically comes to one's mobile device.)

When I would ask him as to why he 'entertained' discussions with people with radically different and opposing opinions, he would answer that to have meaningful change, in pursuit of a society we wish to create, a dialogue, a संवाद ( as opposed to विवाद) is necessary.  And so he engaged with people across the spectrum, (not the divide) knowing fully well that we were not all followers of the same faith or ideologies.  But we all had some common purpose.  And that dialogue was a way to find that common purpose, and bridge differences gently.

In dialogue, his great contribution was to interfaith dialogue.  He believed that religions, in their true message and spirit, have much to contribute to society and the world.  And that progress towards a more harmonious society can be achieved with the working together of religions and by finding common purpose between religions.

As a Hindu, he believed in strengthening the religion from within.  To work against the inequities of the caste system.  To spread the true message of सनातन धर्म.  To build a more inclusive society.  He also reached out to members of other religions.  He felt that it was 'religion that binds the individual to Divinity and to other fellow beings'. He believed that people of different faiths had to come together to build a world where there is harmony and to 'Build Peace Based on Tolerance, Mutual Respect, and Cooperation'.

It is written in the Vedas - 
संगच्छध्वं संवदध्वं सं वो मनांसि जानताम्।
Let us walk together, Let us Speak with one another, Let us be of one mind.

Let us work towards building that more beautiful and peaceful world!!


Samir Somaiya

The picture below shows a few of his pictures with:
Swami Prabhupadji 
Swami Tadrupanandji
Grand Mufti of Kazakhstan
Ravishankar Maharaj 
Swami Chinmayanandji
Sant Shri Morari Bapu
Pandurang Shastriji
Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswatiji
Acharya Mahapragyaji
Pope John Paul
The Dalai Lama
Pramukh Swami Maharaj


19th April 2021

Dear Friends,

These are crazy times. The second wave of COVID19 is rising rapidly. As recently as early late February and early March, there were no COVID19 patients in our hospital. We were non-COVID since there was a sense that the worst was behind us, and that the vaccinations would take us through.

In March, the second wave of COVID as hit the nation. The lessons of other nations have shown us that the second wave does return. India is no exception. Our hospital staff has once again ramped us to create 410 beds for COVID care.

Our doctors, nurses, ward staff, housekeeping crew, cleaning teams, administrative staff, security staff, project staff are working round the clock to treat those affected by the disease. The challenges are extraordinary, and what you read in the newspapers, our hospital staff is experiencing first hand.

Our responsibility is to ensure that we are not a burden on this already over-stretched infrastructure. The best way to do this, is to always wear masks and to maintain a healthy social distance whether or not there is a lock-down in effect.  

For those of us above the age of 45, we must get vaccinated.  For those below 45, you must help your older family members go get the vaccine.   

There are people worried about taking the vaccinations.  At this point, we are safer with the vaccinations, individually and as a society. The K J Somaiya Hospital and Research Centre has created a centre for vaccinations at the K J Somaiya College of Physiotherapy.  

There are personal tragedies all around us. This virus is affecting many of us directly.  Let us do our best to slow and eventually remove this virus from our lives.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

I end with a prayer:

सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः सर्वे सन्तु निरामया,
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु मा कश्चिद् दुख भागभवेत।
ऊँ शांतिः शांतिः शांतिः

अर्थ - "सभी सुखी होवें, सभी रोगमुक्त रहें, सभी मंगलमय घटनाओं के साक्षी बनें और किसी को भी दुःख का भागी न बनना पड़े।"

Translation from Wikipedia

On the passing of Architect Jitendra Mistry

7th February 2021

Dear Friends,

The Coronavirus has affected the entire world.  It brought the entire world to a standstill, and affected our lives and livelihoods.  As an institution, at The K J Somaiya Hospital and Research Centre, we did our best to prepare for and treat those who would be affected by the deadly pandemic.  In fact we treated more than 3800 people affected by the virus.

I never thought that the disease would hit home.  On 25 December in Ahmedabad, on Christmas Day, also वैकुंठ एकादशी, also मौनी एकादशी, my father in law passed away because of the disease.  He was 82 years young.  His name was Jitendra Mistry. 

It still feels odd for me to use the past tense when I speak about him.  I feel his presence strongly, and all around me.  Physically and emotionally.  The chair I am sitting on right now as I write this email was crafted by him.

He was an architect, wood worker, art collector and interior designer.  He has left behind a unique legacy that combines all of the above and also wester and Indian traditions.  His career spanned 6 decades.  His work was nothing less than a work of art.

I am not a student of art and architecture.  But from my father and father in law who collected art, I developed a sense of art appreciation.  To see beautiful things around us.  To appreciate beauty, whether it be beauty in nature, beauty in music, in sculpture, in paintings, in landscape, in architecture and in a campus.  To make that beauty available and accessible to all of us.

I took charge of Somaiya Vidyavihar and Somaiya Ayurvihar in 2010.  At that time, our campuses were a set of buildings and institutions existing in the large tract of land purchased by Shri K. J. Somaiya many years ago, and built on by him and my father Dr. S K Somaiya.

I had seen my father in law's work and had really liked it.  I asked him whether he could help create a sense of space.  We started by building 'footpaths' and an athletic track.  Immediately, a campus that had grown organically over the years, had a common space (athletic track) and walking roads that tied it all in.  

Since budgets were a constraint, we decided to add spaces bit by bit, and over the last 10 years, slowly but surely, we built them.  We added Gargi Plaza in front of the College of Engineering, 

the Founder's garden, 

the Haveli, 

and the garden in front of the Maitreyi hostel.  He designed the space where we put the statue of my father, with the fountains behind him.

At the Ayurvihar campus, he helped design the main access road, the semi-circular garden in front of the hospital,

the Vanaspatyam garden and more.

He designed the Sandipani hostel (prior to 2010), the Maitreyi hostel, 

the delightful K J Somaiya College of Physiotherapy.

Currently, the Ekalavya sports centre is under construction, and the Madhuban garden in the Vinay Mandir courtyard.  

He helped plan the retrofit of the hospital as we created the Superspecialty section, the casualty and also the external look and feel of the hospital.  

Two buildings that he designed and are still to be built are the administrative building of the Somaiya Vidyavihar University and a Museum to house the art collection of my father.  He had also said that we could house a part of his collection.

We created a master plan for the Vidyavihar campus and were working on parts of the Ayurvihar campus.  

I can keep going on.  As I walked through our campuses, whether it be the lobby of Maitreyi, the Founder's garden, the delightful college of Physiotherapy, and so many other spaces, I cannot but appreciate the power of spaces, of landscape or architecture that he designed and the sense of community that this helped create.  

Sahir Ludhianvi said 

माना कि इस ज़मीं को न गुलज़ार कर सके

कुछ ख़ार कम तो कर गए गुज़रे जिधर से हम

हम खुश नसीब थे कि आप यहाँ से गुज़रे।

A salute to a man who died young.  I will certainly miss you.


Samir Somaiya

Gandhi Jayanti

6th October 2020

Dear Friends,

Last week the country celebrated Gandhi Jayanti.  2 October.

A face on our currency notes.  A statue on a street.  A person in the history books.  A movie made by Richard Attenborough.

Who was this man?  There are very few people around now who knew him personally.  I met one such person last week.  I was driving back from Ahmedabad to Mumbai.  I stopped at the Atul guest house to have lunch.  The Lalbhai family invited me home.  I had the honour of eating with them.  Among them was Dr. Vimla Lalbhai. 93 years young.

We spoke about COVID and the subject matter I taught at Cornell.  After lunch, when I rose to leave, she showed me a book on Gandhi.  I asked her, whether she had ever met him.  Met him?  She said that she had studied at Lady Hardinge Medical College in Delhi, and the only two Gujaratis her dad knew when he sent her there to study were Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel.  She breezed in and out of their residences while she was in Delhi.  How many times did you meet him? I asked her.  She said she could not count.  But she simply said, he was a fearless man.  A man of character. She had the same opinion of Sardar Patel.  "They were giants", she said.  She wondered whether the current generation and others that follow will understand and value what Gandhiji had to teach.  

I told her that my grandfather, K. J. Somaiya had met him only once, as a young man, at a large rally.  But irrespective of that, Gandhi had had a profound influence on his life.  When Mahatma Gandhi was jailed in the 1920s, a 20 year old Karamshi decided to observe complete silence and fast one day every week.  This vow he made because he said, why should Gandhiji suffer prison alone for all of us.  He was fighting for our independence.  In solidarity with Gandhiji, a young K J Somaiya took this vow, and he kept it until he was 96 and could no longer eat on his own.  76 years of keeping complete silence and not eating every Wednesday.

Who was Mahatma Gandhi? and how did he come to have such a profound influence.  One encounter and K J Somaiya gave up wearing all variety of clothing.  He just kept 5 pairs of khadi kurtas, dhotis, a Gandhi topi and shoes.  Simplicity.  And अपरिग्रह। Not keeping anything more than one needs.  

Shri K J Somaiya was a self made man.  Started poor but found success in sugar trading.  He started his first sugar mill in 1939, in rural Maharashtra.  A place where the caste system was strong.  And he started a school in 1942 to educate the children of the people around him.  He did this in the 1940s when the caste system was so strong and the divisions still stronger.  And he built a school that welcomed all, especially those who were marginalised. He was only 40 then, but he was inspired by Gandhiji's instruction to bring those who are disadvantaged into the mainstream of society.  Not merely to bring them 'in' but to bring them into the 'mainstream'. 

In 1959, he established Somaiya Vidyavihar.  As a commitment to repay his debt to society.  He again echoed Gandhiji's thoughts, that education is meant to create great citizens of India and the world.  That education is more than being literate.  It is to know the art of living and giving.  

In the 1970s he established the Girivanvasi Pragati Mandal.  To go to Adivasi communities and take healthcare to them.  He would ask the best doctors of Mumbai to give up 2-3 weeks of their time and accompany him to the poorest of poor places.  Where people did not have clothes to wear or food to eat, let alone healthcare to benefit from, and serve their needs.  I remember accompanying him as an 11 year old in one of these camps, running errands from the 'store' to the OT, delivering much needed medicines back and forth.  Somaiya students and faculty would join him at these camps, learning the spirit of service and making friends for a lifetime.  By being in such places, seeing such poverty, and serving these 'have nots' they got the education of a lifetime.  My 93 year old uncle mentioned to me last month, that his job was to bathe all the sick men who came to the camp seeking assistance.  A job he did with open arms.

And Gandhi influenced many.  In so many parts of the country.  Vinoba Bhave who inspired the Bhudan movement, inspiring many to donate millions of acres of land to the landless.  Kasturbhai Lalbhai in Ahmedabad.  Doshi kaka who was an eye surgeon in rural Gujarat, who emptied his bank account at the end of each month to start fresh.  When I asked him about the 'uncertainty' that would cause his finances, he said he was ninety years old, and in his life, help from God in a good cause was always certain.  So many of them.  Big and small.  But nation builders all.

Gandhiji loved the Bhajan - વૈષ્ણવ જન તો તેને કહિયે (Vaishnav Jan to Tene Kahiye.. the song sung by Shri Purushottam Upadhyay as an MP3)

Please see the translation below.  If we can embody those qualities, then we are truly educated.

I salute Gandhiji, and the spirit of service and the vision of India that he dreamt off.  To that dream.



PS: If you have not seen the movie or read the books listed below, please do.

The movie:

Gandhi by Attenborough

The books:

Freedom at Midnight - Dominique LaPierre and Larry Collins