Sushila Nayyar

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Sushila Nayyar, also spelled 'Nayar' (1914 – 2000), was the younger sister of Pyarelal Nayyar, personal secretary to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and the Gandhis' personal physician.


She was born in 1914 in Kunjah, Punjab now in Pakistan, and came to Delhi in her youth to study medicine at Lady Hardinge Medical College. In 1939 she came to Sevagram to join her brother, and quickly became a close associate of the Gandhis. Shortly after her arrival, cholera broke out in Wardha, and the young medical graduate tackled the outbreak almost singlehandedly. Gandhi praised her fortitude and dedication to service, and with the blessing of Dr B.C. Roy appointed her his personal physician. In 1942 she was awarded an MD and returned once more to Gandhi's side, to take part in the Quit India Movement that was sweeping the country. That year she was imprisoned along with other prominent Gandhians at the Aga Khan Palace in Poona.

In 1944 she set up a small dispensary at Sevagram, but this soon grew so large it disturbed the peace of the ashram, and she shifted it to a guesthouse donated by the Birlas, in Wardha. In 1945 this little clinic formally became the Kasturba Hospital (now the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences). This time was, however, highly fraught; several attempts were made on Gandhi's life by Hindu extremists, including Nathuram Godse, the man who was ultimately to kill him, and Sushila Nayyar testified on several occasions to the attacks. In 1948...
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