From a life of lavishness to his shift to the ultra Left, Kobad Ghandy’s life is a silver screen material of sorts. Son of a senior pharma executive and the scion of a well-off Parsi family, Ghandy graduated from top institutions such as the Doon School and St. Xavier’s College Mumbai before travelling to London to pursue Chartered Accountancy.
But that’s not what he’s known for.
He is rather infamous for being an alleged Politburo member of the banned CPI(Maoist). He gave up his London life to come back to India and join the ultra Left movement in 1970s. Accused of plotting terror attacks, Ghandy was finally arrested in September 2009. He was released on bail in October 2019, after he spent a decade in jails across the country.
Back to current times, in March 2021, Ghandy is again in the news due to his just-released memoir, Fractured Freedom: A Prison Memoir, which tracks his journey from his privileged upbringing to his life of incarceration, talking about his London life, the activism of his wife Anuradha, and his introduction to radical politics.
Ghandy, who still has 10 cases pending against him, had recently told The Indian Express that the idea of his memoir was to give a background to the setback that Communism has suffered in the country and across the world. He said that for any future project for “radical change”, it introduces the concepts of “happiness, freedom, and value systems” as key.
The 74-year-old now lives with his younger sister Mahrouk’s family in Mumbai, according to the report.
He was inspired by RP Dutt (former general secretary of British Communist Party)’s book India Today whose account of the country’s freedom struggle history was “confirmed by Marxist orientation”, and which made him join a Maoist circle in London itself. He returned to India in 1972 and started organising slum dwellers and factory workers, with his wife.
His decade away in jail gave him time to introspect where the movement went wrong. He also rued that the Left doesn’t fully subscribe to the idea of class struggle being inclusive of castes. He said the Left needs to find out where the movement went wrong so that they can do a better job in the future.