Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi was born on 30th December, 1887 in Gujarat.
He completed his education in Vadodara. A lawyer by profession, his initial foray into public life was between 1907 to 1913. During this period he campaigned for eliminating caste-based discrimination and promoted women’s education and widow remarriages.
Munshi wrote extensively in Hindi and Gujarati, and started his own Gujarati monthly - Bhargava. He founded Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an educational trust in 1938 and started the Bhavan's journal, still published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan today. His flair for literature led him to become the President of the following literary organisations: Sanskrit Vishwa Parishad, the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, and the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan.
In 1937 he was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly on a Indian National Congress party ticket. From 1937-1940 he served as the Home Minister of Bombay State.
Key Contribution in Constitution Making:
He was elected to the Constituent Assembly from Bombay and held membership of eleven Committees—the largest number for any single Member of the Constituent Assembly. The Drafting Committee was one of the important Committees which he was a member of and he made significant contributions to its work.
As a member of the Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights, Munshi presented his draft articles on Fundamental Rights on 17th March 1947 which enumerated rights every citizen should have. Some of the proposals in his draft articles are: right to privacy to be included under fundamental right to freedom (draft article V), Hindi and Urdu to be Indian National languages (draft article IV), right to free compulsory education till the age of 14 as fundamental right (draft article VIII). This draft was taken as the model for the guidance of the Sub-Committee.
After independence, he held the post of Trade Agent (Agent-General) in the Princely state of Hyderabad. Later, between 1952-1953, he was a Member of Parliament and Minister for Agriculture & Food under the Congress Government. He aimed for an agricultural economy that was self-reliant by supporting agricultural research and setting up numerous educational institutes.
During his term as the Minister for Agriculture & Food in the 1950s, he started Van Mahotsava, a tree plantation festival, with an aim to increase the area under forest cover and create awareness among masses for forest conservation. The festival is still organized in various parts of India in the month of July.
He held the Governorship of Uttar Pradesh from 1952 to 1957 and after his tenure founded the Akhand Hindustan Movement and the Swatantra Party which eventually died out, after which he joined the Jan Sangh.
He died on 8th February 1971 at the age of 83
Some of his best-known works in English, Gujarati, and Hindi are: Swapna Drashta (1925), Sneha Sambhram (1932), Gujarat and its Literature (1935), Akhand Hindustan (1942), The Ruin that Britain Wrought (1946), Pilgrimage to Freedom (1968).