History and Heritage
society to manage the hospital was formed. This was Kasturba Health Society. The name of the institute itself speaks of its historical roots. These roots go back to the time of Indian Independence Movement, and to a place originally called Shegaon, now known as Sevagram.
It was 1936, when Mahatma Gandhi left Sabarmati ashram and set up his ashram in Sevagram, a small village in Wardha town in Maharashtra. Gandhi directed the independence movement of the country from here. This has immortalized Sevagram in the history of the Nation.
In 1938, Dr Sushila Nayar, then a young medical graduate, came to Sevagram to meet her brother Pyarelal. Pyarelal was Gandhi's secretary and a link to Dr. Nayar's association with the Mahatma. Born on 26th December 1914, in Kunjah (Gujarat), now in Pakistan, Sushila was just another girl from a middle class family. It was by her sheer grit and dedication that she later on carved a national position and contributed immensely to the society.
During her stay in Sevagram, she was highly influenced by Gandhi's ideology. She also had her first encounter with community medicine in this village. When cholera broke out in Sevagram, Gandhi nudged her to tackle it. With no other medical practitioners to help her, she fought the disease almost singlehandedly. It was an experience that would continue into several such experiences which were to chisel her into a hero of public health. Dr. Nayar continued to stay for a year at Sevagram as Gandhi's personal physician. This was a time when she learnt and imbibed the lessons of austerity and abstinence from Gandhi's teachings.
After completing MD in medicine she returned to Sevagram in 1942. She zealously participated in the Quit India Movement, which was sweeping the country at that time. In the same year, she was arrested with other prominent Gandhians and sent to prison in Aga Khan Palace, Pune.
In 1944, she started a small dispensary in the premises of the ashram at Sevagram. Her next step was going to be a leap for the village. The small clinic formed outside the ashram, in a guesthouse donated by G.D Birla, was to become a seed of a hospital in Sevagram. And duly in 1945, Kasturba Hospital was born. With its 15 beds it began its service as maternity and children hospital. The hospital continued to grow under the care of the ashram from 1948 to 1954. Thereafter it was taken over by the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi (Mahatma Gandhi National Memorial Trust). On September 11, 1964 an independent registered.