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Biography: Morarji Desai

Practical forcefulness in politics is very rare and very precious. The career of Mr.Morarji Desai manifests this in singular eminence.

Fervour, pure-mindedness and spirituality, are the tripod stand on which Indian political life is built. Mr.Desai is a superb example of this combination of virtues.

K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Morarji Desai in 1938
Morarji Desai in 1938


One is struck with his reserved attitude. He is a strange blend of brightness and reticence. This fire-curtain of reserve is the key to his character. For, frivolity is never the vehicle of action.

He was born at Bulsar in 1896.His youth was ardent and he had a passion for concentrated work. He graduated with honours in the first division with Physics as his principle subject. Thereafter he was taken up in the Provincial Civil service. He proved himself able by his administrative capacities. He gained the affection of his colleagues and the approbation of his elders. During the twelve years of his service the vicissitudes of his inward life ware considerable. His opinions underwent great change. He had moments of bitter revolt.

In 1930 he resigned the post and made a distinguished addition to the ranks of the civil registers. He was arrested and sentenced to three months of rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs.300.But the sentence was set aside by the High Court. For some time he worked as the Secretary of the Gujarat Provincial Congress Committee. He was also in charge of the Gujarat Sevadal. During the campaign his organizing faculty was striking in evidence.

In 1932 he was sentenced to one and a half year's rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rupees.300. After his release he was again imprisoned for two years. He was released unconditionally when the Civil Disobedience Movement was suspended.

The Hon'ble Mr. Desai owned his sentences with glory. The longer the captivity the higher he had risen.

His unruffled calm is a great asset to him. His head is nothing but a mill, incessantly in a whirl. A firm spirit, a good heart and a well-regulated mind entitle him to our grateful esteem.

Source: Haripura Congress Souvenir, 1938

Editor's Note: Morarji Desai went on to serve as India's Prime Minister during the years 1977-1979, just after the Emergency. This biography, and his portrait,  taken from the historical souvenir of 1938, documents his early years.

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