Gira Sarabhai (1923-2021): The force de majeure behind the prestigious National Institute of Design

Institution builder, Gandhian and an architect – the long, rich life of Gira Sarabhai: BN Goswamy

(BN Goswamy is an art critic. This piece first appeared in the Indian Express’ July 23 edition.)

To try and capture the essence of Giraben — one automatically switches to referring to her like this in Gujarati fashion — would be like attempting “to lasso a cloud”. And she, ever reluctant to be acknowledged, especially now that she is from “our vain plaudits fled”, might not even approve. But, inevitably, one is driven to make that effort, for, after all, how many, outside of her wonderful, magical circle of co-workers and devotees, know her? There were a myriad aspects to Giraben: She was an institution builder, but the moment things began to go wrong with one, not for any fault of hers, she would turn away, never to look back; she was essentially intensely private, but was at ease with people from all strata, all faiths, all professions; A Gandhian at heart, she loved simplicity and her distaste for flamboyance, showmanship, she did not hide …

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