An Unusual Raja: Mahatma Gandhi and the Aundh Experiment
Apa Pant
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Apa Pant writes about his father, Raja Bhawanrao, the ruler of Aundh, a small princely state in western India. Starting with a description of how the Raja came to rule over Aundh, Apa Pant goes on to describe the events leading up to the historic meeting between the Raja and the Mahatma.

On Mahatma Gandhi’s suggestion, the Raja voluntarily gave up his powers and agreed to run an experiment in democracy, in Aundh.

The book also discusses Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas about democracy in India and how they were put into practice in what has come to be known as the ‘Aundh Experiment’. Gandhiji’s ideas and the Aundh Experiment are particularly relevant today, in the context of the growing centralisation of government powers the world over. Decades ago, the Mahatma’s idea for a decentralised democracy was seen as a workable alternative to centralised power.

This gem of a book contains in its index, letters from Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel.

Apa Pant (1912–1992), was born into the princely family of Aundh in the Satara District of what is now Maharashtra. After graduating from the Bombay University (now the University of Mumbai), he took a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Oxford. He went on to study in London and passed the Barrister at Law from Lincoln’s Inn. He returned to India in 1934.

A writer, freedom fighter, Gandhian and, not least, a career diplomat, Apa Pant served as the Indian Commissioner in several African countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and the Belgian Congo. Later, he was India’s ambassador to various countries including Norway, Egypt, the United Kingdom and Italy. He also represented India in the Kingdom of Sikkim. In 1954, Apa Pant became one of the first recipients of the Padma Shri and in 1956, he represented India at the Bandung Conference when the Non-Aligned Movement was established.

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