Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Morarji Desai: Early life of Morarji Desai, elected as Prime minister, Urine Therapy adopted by Morarji Desai, Retirement and death of Morarji Desai

Morarji Desai: 4th Prime Minister of India
Morarji Ranchhodji Desai ( 29 February 1896 – 10 April 1995) was an Indian independence activist and the fourthPrime Minister of India from 1977–79. He was the first Indian Prime Minister who did not belong to the Indian National Congress. After assuming the office, Desai promoted his policies and peace initiatives between Pakistan and India to avoid conflicts, such as Indo-Pakistani war of 1971. For this, he was conferred with Nishaan-e-Pakistan (Order of Pakistan). Desai is the only Indian national to receive the highest civilian award from Pakistan, the Nishaan-e-Pakistan.
Morarji Desai was born into an Anavil Brahmin family in Bhadeli, Valsad in Bombay Presidency (now in Gujarat). His schooling life of Primary section is in Saurashtra The Kundla School, Savarkundla. It's now actual name is J.V.Modi School.After he joined Bai Ava Bai High School, Valsad. After graduating from Wilson College, Mumbai, he join ed the civil service in Gujarat. Later, he left the service of the British in 1924 and joined the civil disobedience movement against British rule in India in 1930. He spent many years in jail during the freedom struggle and owing to his sharp leadership skills and tough spirit, he became a favourite amongst freedom-fighters and an important leader of the Indian National Congress in Gujarat. When provincial elections were held in 1934 and 1937, Desai was elected and served as the Revenue Minister and Home Minister of the Bombay Presidency.

Before the independence of India, he became Bombay's Home Minister and later was elected as Chief Minister of Bombay State in 1952. The state was home to Marathi linguistic movements, with calls for the creation of a separate linguistic state. Considered as a tough leader, Desai was also known for pioneering beliefs and enforcing strict discipline and authority. By Desai's orders in 1960, a demonstration by the Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti was fired upon by the police resulting in the deaths of 105 demonstrators. 105 demonstrators were killed in the incident leading to public outrage that shook the central government. The incident led to the formation of the present State of Maharashtra.

As Home Minister, Desai outlawed any portrayals of indecency (which included "kissing" scenes) in films and theatrical productions. Although a staunch Gandhian, Desai was socially conservative, pro-business, and in favour of free enterprise reforms, as opposed to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's socialistic policies. Rising in Congress leadership, Desai was at odds with Prime Minister Nehru and his allies, and with Nehru's age and health failing, he was considered as a possible contender for the position of Prime Minister. Outflanked in the leadership contest after Nehru's death in 1964 by the Nehruvian Lal Bahadur Shastri, Desai remained content to build support within the ranks. After Shastri's death in 1966, he contested for Prime Minister and fought a closely contested election with Indira Gandhi. Desai obtained 169 votes but lost to Indira Gandhi who garnered 351.

Morarji Desai became the prime minister after the landslide victory of the Janata coalition in 1977. The coalition, later the janata party, was full of personal and policy friction and thus failed to achieve much owing to continuous in-wrangling and much controversy. With no party in leadership of the coalition, rival groups vied to unseat Desai. Controversial trials of prominent Congress leaders, including Indira Gandhi over Emergency-era abuses worsened the fortunes of his administration. Desai worked to improve relations with neighbour and arch-rival Pakistan and restored normal relations with China, for the first time sincethe 1962 war. He communicated with Zia-ul-Haq and established friendly relations. Diplomatic relations were also re-established with China. His government undid many amendments made to the constitution during emergency and made it difficult for any future government to impose national emergency.

In 1979, Raj Narain and Charan Singh pulled out of the Janata Party, forcing Desai to resign from office and retire from politics at the age of 83. Desai campaigned for Janata Party in 1980 General Election as a senior politician but did not contest the election himself. In retirement, he lived in Mumbai, and died at the age of 100. He had been honoured much in his last years as a freedom-fighter of his generation.
Morarji Desai was a strict follower of Mahatma Gandhi's principles and a moralist. He was a vegetarian “both by birth and by conviction.” Morarji Desai is most often remembered for his championing of Urine Therapy. He told journalist Khushwant Singh that he was advised to try drinking his own urine when in his 40s to cure piles (hemorrhoids), and he got immediate results. Thereafter he continued the practice and was quite open about it, saying that you should not do anything you would be ashamed of.
Morarji Desai had described the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India's external intelligence agency, as the praetorian guard of Indira Gandhi and had promised to stop all activities of the R&AW after becoming prime minister. He closed down much of the agency, and reduced its budget and operations. B. Raman, the former head of the Counter-Terrorism Division of R&AW and noted security analyst, reveals that, in an unguarded moment, Morarji Desai indiscreetly told Pakistan's Chief Martial Law Administrator General Zia ul-Haq that his government was well aware of Pakistan's nuclear development.

Morarji Desai in 1937, as Congress Home Minister of
Bombay Presidency
Morarji Desai is survived by his son Kanti Desai, two grandsons Bharat and Jaideep Desai and four great grand children. The only one of them to hold any political ambition is Madhukeshwar Desai, one of his great grand children, son of Jaideep Desai, who has taken it upon himself to revive the legacy of his illustrious great grandfather.
Vishaal Desai, son of Bharat Desai, is an aspiring filmmaker and writer.

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