Desai, Morarji Ranchodji

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Desai, Morarji Ranchodji


Born Feb. 29, 1896, in Bhadeli, in what is now Gujarat State. Indian state and political figure.

The son of a schoolteacher, Desai was educated at Wilson College of the University of Bombay. In 1930 he joined the Indian National Congress; he took part in the national liberation struggle and was arrested and imprisoned several times. From 1931 to 1937 and from 1939 to 1946, Desai was secretary of the Bombay provincial committee of the INC. He headed several ministries in the Bombay provincial government from 1937 to 1939 and in the state government from 1946 to 1952; he was chief minister of Bombay state from 1952 to 1956.

Desai was minister for commerce and industry in the national government from 1956 to 1958, minister of finance from 1958 to 1963, and minister of finance and deputy prime minister from 1967 to 1969. In 1969, after a split in the INC and the formation of the Indian National Congress (Opposition) Party, he became the leader of the parliamentary group of the new party.

Imprisoned after a state of emergency was declared by the INC government in June 1975, Desai remained in prison until January 1977. After his release he headed the electoral alliance of parties known as the Janata Party, which included the Indian National Congress (Opposition) Party. On Mar. 24, 1977, Desai became prime minister of India and the leader of the parliamentary group of the Janata Party, which was transformed into an actual political party in May 1977. In July 1979, Desai retired from both posts.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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