Biography of Morarji Desai – Fourth Prime Minister of India

Morarji Desai is one of the individuals whose personality and patriotism has made India a modern, powerful country. Desai, who dedicated his entire life to the nation, was an uncompromising freedom fighter, an efficient politician, a skilled MP.

Biography of Morarji Desai

Biography of Morarji Desai

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Table of Contents

NameMorarji Desai[1]
Date of Birth29 February 1896
Place of BirthBhadeli, Bulsar District, Gujarat
Father’s NameRanchhodji Nagarji Desai
Mother’s NameVajiaben Desai
Education1/ High School in St. Bals
2/ Wilson College in Mumbai
AwardBharat Ratna,1991
DiedApril 10, 1995

Early Life of Morarji Desai

Morarji Desai, who served as the fourth Prime Minister of India, was born on February 29, 1896 in Bhadeli village under Bulsar district of Gujarat. His father’s name was Ranchhodji Nagarji Desai and his mother’s name was Vajiaben Desai. Morarji Desai’s father Ranchhodji Nagarji Desai worked as a teacher professionally. As the son of a teacher, Desai learnt how to move forward in life with hard work by mastering strict discipline, as well as honesty from an early age. Morarji Desai received formal education at St. Bals High School. Desai graduated from Wilson College in Mumbai in 1918 after passing the matriculation examination. Morarji Desai, who started his professional career as deputy collector in Ahmedabad after completing his formal education, served in the post for 12 years.

Importantly, Desai resigned from his government job in 1930 in anger towards the British regime. He actively participated in the freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi by resigning from government service. He did not compromise on the country’s independence even though he faced challenges in his personal life after resigning from government service. It may be recalled that Desai was sentenced to three years imprisonment by the British government for actively participating in the freedom struggle against the British.

Morarji Desai joined the All India Congress Committee in 1931. He was subsequently appointed secretary of the Congress Committee and served as secretary till 1937. When provincial elections were held in 1934 and 1937, Desai subsequently served as the Minister of Revenue, Agriculture, Home minister of Bombay Presidency. Importantly, Desai was also the first political leader to support the liberties of sexual minorities.

Importantly, Morarji Desai took active part in the personal satyagraha launched against the British under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in the wake of which Desai was detained by the British government. However, Desai was subsequently released in October 1941. Morarji Desai, who did not compromise on the country’s terms even though the British government had detained him, again took active part in the Quit India Movement, which began in August 1942, in the wake of which Desai was again detained by the British government.  The British later released Desai from jail in 1945.

Also Read : Biography of Indira Gandhi

After being released from Prison

Morarji Desai took over as Bombay’s home and revenue minister after winning the state assembly elections in 1946. It may be recalled that as home and revenue minister Desai played an important role in carrying out several reforms in his land rights especially by reforming the Right to Land Act and initiated a drastic change. He also tried to reduce the distance between the police and the general public.

Importantly Desai was elected chief minister of Bombay after B.G. Kher retired as chief minister in 1952. It may be recalled that it was during this period that the movement started on a linguistic basis, especially in the states of South India. Bombay was a bilingual state. Bombay was divided by increasing diversity among Gujarati speaking and Marathi speaking people. It was for these reasons that Desai resigned as chief minister of Bombay in 1956.

Morarji Desai took over as minister of commerce and industry in the central government from 1956 to 1957 after resigning as chief minister. Later took over as finance portfolio of the central government in 1958. It may be recalled that Desai as finance minister has made several financial reforms. Desai served as finance minister till 1963. It may be recalled that Morarji Desai as finance minister played an important role in implementing economic plans. He also increased the country’s defence capabilities as well as increased the revenue for the development of the country.

Importantly, Desai resigned from the central cabinet under the Kamaraj scheme in 1963. He later took over as president of the Administrative Reforms Commission in 1965 during the reign of the then Prime Minister LalBahadur Shastri.

In 1967, Desai was sworn in as deputy prime minister and finance minister in the cabinet of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. But importantly, in July 1969, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi snatched away the finance department from Morarji Desai. Even if the Prime Minister has the right to change the portfolios of ministers, Morarji Desai’s self-esteem was hurt. Because of which Morarji Desai resigned from the post of deputy prime minister.

Importantly when the Congress party was split into two parts in 1969. It may be recalled that Morarji Desai led the opposition along with the Congress during this period. Morarji Desai took up an indefinite hunger strike on 12 March 1975 to support Nav Nirman movement of Gujrat. Assembly elections were held in Gujarat in June 1975 due to Morarji Desai’s unsimoveable programme.

Significantly, Desai was arrested and detained for a long time when the state emergency was declared on June 26, 1975. It may be recalled that he was released only on January 18, 1977 after the announcement of his decision to hold Lok Sabha elections. After his release Desai played an important role in winning the Lok Sabha elections held in March 1977 by campaigning in different parts of the country. It may be recalled that he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Surat constituency in Gujarat in this general election. He was subsequently unanimously was elected leader of the Janata Party in Parliament and was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on March 24, 1977, and thus became the first non-congress Prime Minister of India.

As Prime Minister Morarji Desai took care to set an example of his duty and build a close relationship with the people. Importantly, Desai as prime minister took special steps to restore India’s normal relations with China after the Chinese war in 1962. He also interacted with Pakistan’s military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq and played an important role in establishing a friendly relationship with Pakistan as well. Desai helped restore friendly relation with China and Pakistan, and vowed to avoid armed conflict such as Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. He was honoured with the highest civilian award of Pakistan, the Nishan-e-Pakistan on 19 May 1990.

Morarji Desai as Prime Minister confirmed India’s position at the international level that India will not manufacture nuclear weapons and will refrain from even carrying out peaceful nuclear blasts.

Gandhian follower, social reformer Desai also served as vice chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth. He even visited Vidyapeeth during his tenure as prime minister. Desai who focuses on the system of living normal life himself wrote a post card even after holding the post of Prime Minister.

It may be recalled that Morarji Desai campaigned for Janata party as a senior politician in the 1980 general elections, but did not contest the elections himself. He lived in Mumbai after his political retirement. It may be recalled that Morarji Desai died on April 10,1995 at his residence in Mumbai at the age of 99.


1. Where and when was Morarji Desai born?

North- Morarji Desai was born at Bhadeli village under Bulsar district of Gujarat on February 29, 1896.

2. What is the name of Morarji Desai’s parents?

Ans. Morarji Desai’s father’s name is Ranchhodji Nagarji Desai and mother’s name is Vajiaben Desai.

3. How long did Morarji Desai act as prime minister?

Answer- Morarji Desai served as Prime Minister from March 24, 1977 to July 28, 1979.

4. When Morarji Desai was conferred with Bharat Ratna Award?

Answer- Desai was conferred with Bharat Ratna Award in 1991.

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