Posts Tagged ‘Gujarati’


Posted: November 18, 2011 in Icons, The NamoLeague Times
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137 years down the memory lane, his life and work are still alive in people’s hearts. Sursinhji Takthasinhji Gohel – A renowned Gujarati poet known by the pen-name of Kalapi, meaning a peacock, needs no introduction.

Kalapi was born to a royal family in Lathi – Gohilwad of Amreli district in Saurashtra. He lived a very short but inspirational life of 26 years. He was born on 26th January, 1874 and expired on 9th June, 1900. He had his primary and secondary education with English medium at Raj Kumar College. He was sent to England but returned back within a year. Kalapi was handed over the kingdom when he turned 21.

Kalapi was a follower of The Swaminarayan Sampraday founded by Lord Swaminarayan.

Kavi Kalapi’s personal life reflects his intense love story that was the ultimate reason behind his poetry and romanticism.

At the age of 15 years, he was married to two princesses – Rajba-Ramaba, the princess of Kach-Roha and the second was Kesharba-Anandiba, the princess of Saurashtra-Kotada. Ramaba was elder to him by 8 years, while Anandiba by 2 years. The twist came at the age of 20 years, when Kalapi realized his love for Monghi called as Shobhna. She was a maid who had come along with Ramaba when she got married and then stayed back in Lathi to serve her. She was smart, beautiful and innocent. She would keenly listen to Kalapi’s poems and showed deep interest in literature. All these caught Kavi Kalapi’s attraction. He gave his heart to Shobhna when she was just 12-13 years old.

Kalapi could never love his wives. But at the same time, he never stepped back from his duties of a husband. His love for Shobhna led to many differences and he constantly had to face the conflicts with his heart, mind, love, laws and responsibilities and to add to that, Ramaba’s deceptions. Ramaba tried her best to separate the lovers. Kalapi was even sent away to Bombay on the pretext of state business.

However, Shobhna remained the inspiration and topic of his love and inspired him to write innumerable stanza in praise of her beauty and their marital separation.

Kalapi’s life is the greatest example that nothing can be a barrier. He lived for a short span of 26 years, but it was enough for him to earn the admiration of the people for his poetry. He has penned down 259 soul stirring poems including 15,000 verses.

Apart from poems and verses, he has also given a number of prose writing. His 900 letters to his friends and wives help the readers peep into his personal life. He not only used Gujarati language as a medium to elaborate his own creation but also translated English novels to Gujarati. Kalapi was also an avid reader. He had read more than 500 books in Gujarati, English, Farsi and Sanskrit.

Kavi Kalapi has also written poems in various Chhands of Gujarati language. Mandakranta, Shardulvikridit, Shikharini etc. were the foremost. He is the only Gujarati poet to write the maximum number of poems in these Chhands. Even today, his work is smooth, lovely to sing and unmatched.

Kavi Kalapi was an inspiration to many budding poets of his time. They were the ones who carried forward his style of writing. The most prominent example was Kavi Lalitji, who was about the same age as Kalapi, and already an established poet. He was deeply influenced by Kalapi when he was invited as a tutor for the royal children of the Lathi Darbar. Kavi Lalitji later became the Rajya Kavi of Lathi.

The most striking point is that all these creations, reading, study and achievements were packed by him during the period of his age from 16 years to 26 years i.e. in a span of just 10 years.

After Kavi Kalapi confessed his love for Shobhna, things were torn between his relations. When he was forcefully sent to Bombay, Shobhna went missing. He could never find out the whereabouts of the love of his life. For many years, he wrote letters and poems in her memory. It was rumored that Kalapi’s death was scammed by his own wife, Ramaba. It was not an accidental death but due to poisoning.

Kalapi was an excellent poet in Saurashtra’s history, and will always remain the glory of Gujarat.

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Now this is something most of us are not aware of. Glass painting in India originated in Gujarat in the eighteenth century, which was home to many glass painting artists from China. From Gujarat, the art form has spread to many corners of India.
Apart from its birthplace, what is it that makes glass painting so unique?


The glass paintings are noted for their thematic variety, sheer brilliance, stunning clarity and use of rich colors. They comprise of engraving laid down on the back of the glass and are painted from the reverse. The process requires immense skill and, as a genre, glass painting is extremely difficult for the sequence of steps followed when painting on an opaque surface, is reversed in painting glass.

The medium of glass provides the painter with something that no other mediums can – the light effect. This makes the paintings look truly delicate and beautiful.
Glass painting necessitates some proper methods that are followed by the artists. The artist first begins the picture and fills the outlines and finer details with the brush. After the completion of the painting, these lines appear on the top layer. To give a glittering look, the unpainted areas of the painting are pasted with gold or silver foil. Then the larger areas are filled in with opaque paints. These areas are generally given a flat finish and in some paintings shading techniques are used.


The glass painting developed as the local painters incorporated their painting ideas and put them on glass by depicting popular stories, epic themes, portraits and icons on the glass paintings. This form of art became popular with the masses, as it was quite inexpensive. The artists used to make pictures of the rulers and aristocrats including their mistresses and dancing girls. The artisans of each region had a distinct technique and creativity that differ from one another, so is the case with Gujarat.

Be it any form of art, the religious themes always dominate in

Gujarat. Apart from them, incidents of daily life, court scenes, floral designs and portraits are common when it comes to glass paintings. Also, some of the glass paintings are embellished with gold leaf with the rich usage of bold and vibrant colors and semi precious stones that convey the creative magnificence of the skillful artisans. Sometimes the painting of a deity is surrounded within frames. The glass paintings of Gujarat stand out for their popular folk art traditions that are displayed in the art.

The painters also use dots, lines and patterns that are the empty space fillers in the picture and enhance the aesthetic appeal of the paintings.


Glass painting is a booming industry, with its exports reaching out to almost all continents. The glass painting exporters’ community is growing by the day, which is a tribute to the mushrooming Indian talent in glass painting. By depicting eye-catching patterns and designs, they have reached out to a lot of buyers, who patronize Indian glass paintings, both in India and abroad. With a diverse segregation of painting cultures and the ultimate art, it is a small wonder that Indian glass paintings are among the most sought after in the world.

Apart from it being a business, the youth see it as a line of study. Several courses for glass paintings are offered and special degrees are given by Fine Arts colleges.

But what sets Gujarat apart is, the artists here pursue glass paintings not just as an art or business, but as a passion. The language of the artistic glass paintings is expressive, lively and intelligible. The glass paintings deserve to be placed as the antique articles for the lucid designs and immense craftsmanship.

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Enthusiasts recently got together to revive an art that Gujarat boasts of – Theatre. The day was 27th March that has been celebrated as the World Theatre Day since 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).

In the olden days, theatre was the only source of entertainment for the rural public. A makeshift stage and a curtain, a couple of artists and the entire village would buzz with enthusiasm. While for the city audience, it always has been a curio. Today, the scenario has changed. People have become the slaves of other forms of media. To preserve the Gujarati theatre, we need to know how rich and varied its history in Gujarat has been.


The theatre art is more than 155 years old in Gujarat. The Gujarati play Rustom, Jabuli and Sorab, which is based on the popular dramatic tale of Shah Nama, is considered as the beginning of Gujarati theatre. It was staged at the Grant Road Theatre of Bombay on October 29, 1853.

The theatre did not have original plays needed to have an identity of its own. This compelled the famous Gujarati poet, Umashankar Joshi to make a scornful comment. In 1953, when the centenary of Gujarati theatre was celebrated, he said, “this is a wedding procession without the groom.”

There have been very less changes in the Gujarati theatre. However, the Parsi dramatic companies laid the modern Gujarati theatre’s foundation in the late 1980s. These theatre companies brought western techniques and themes as well as music to form a renewed vernacular theatre. In the modern Gujarati theatre, issues like bride price, witches, women’s health, alcoholism, vaccination etc. are raised.


Due to the onset of mainstream media like the television and films, theatre took a backseat. Few actors and fewer experiments take place in this form of art. Also, the performers who start out anxious to do something different lose no time in joining the mainstream at the first opportunity. The writers and directors associated with such movements do not happen to be so closely associated with theatre that they can be relied upon to continue to provide challenging plays.

A ray of hope in the dark future of the theatre art is the intercollegiate and other competitions. They have always been the source of emerging, new talents. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Bombay) and the former Bombay State Competitions held between 1950 and 1960 provided the majority of the works that served as the foundations of the Gujarati theatre.


These competitions provided most of the projects to the professional Gujarati theatre. And many personalities were born out of such programs who infused life into the art. Pravin Joshi, Vijay Dutt and Kanti Madia were launched in the 1953 competition. In the same way, some of the intercollegiate competitions organized by the Indian National Theatre in 1975-78 gave break to the talents like Mahendra Joshi, Paresh Raval, Mukesh Raval, Siddharth Randeria, Homi Wadia, Sameer Khakhar, Nikita Shah, Sujata Mehta, Daisy Rani and Latesh Shah.
Competitions held in the late eighties and early nineties have produced Prakash Kapadia and Mihir Bhuta (writers), Rajesh Joshi (director), Piyush-Taufik (music directors), Manoj Joshi, Tushar Joshi, Jamnadas Majithia, Bakul Thakkar, Shefali Shetty and Sejal Shah (performers) who went on to prove their abilities on the professional stage.

Senior and popular artistes like Jaya Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha also ventured in the famous Gujarati theatre production house named the Sanjay Goradia Production.
The new Gujarati theatre has got some of the finest actors like Deena Gandhi-Pathak, Anasuya Sutaria, Nalini Mehta, Jashvant Thakkar, Dhananjay Thakkar, Krinalal, Khasrani, Kailash Pandya, Markand Bhatt, Urmila Bhatt, Pranasukh Nayak, Jyoti Vaidya and many others. One of the most versatile Gujarati actresses is Sarita Joshi, who has dominated the new Gujarati theatre for the longest time. One more talented Gujarati dancer and actress is Mallika Sarabhai, who made her name for the role of Draupadi in the world famous playwright Peter Brooke’s ‘Mahabharata’.

Among others, the audience has loved the performances of actors like Siddharth Randeria, Feroz Bhagat, Dilip Joshi, Tiku Talsania, Padmarani and Apara Mehta in the Gujarati theatres.


In the 21st century, films and TV have taken over the field of entertainment. But the Gujarati theatre has not lost its charm yet. Though the flow of the plays has slowed down and changes have to be made to match with the tastes of the audiences, the Gujarati theatre has survived along with the new style.

But not only have the sets, lights and other technical departments gone poor, but also the standard of direction and acting is quite low. The Government academies are indifferent to this matter. Also, the talented artists on the Gujarati stage are not willing to face strife in order to chase a vision of theatre for their artistic satisfaction.

So much is the strength of the Gujarati theatre that it is said that a Gujarati play named ‘Harishchandra’ influenced the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi very much.

The Gujarati theatre has inspired thinking of the people, created social awareness and national spirit during the pre-independence days. Gujarati people’s love to patronize their mother-tongue plays has marked the place of Gujarati theatre in the World theatres through its colorful representation of the plays. May this art see hundreds of such World Theatre Days!

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Gone are the days when women were no better than household cooks and nurses for the children. Today, they have reached heights and demand equal recognition and respect. The status of women has gone through ups and downs in India. But today, women adore the highest offices – just one example is the current President of India, Pratibha Patil.

Similar is the scenario in Gujarat. It is moving ahead in the direction of improving the quality of life of women, who do not enjoy the same privileges that some of their male counterparts on other parts of the world do. Women of Gujarat have achieved greatness in all walks of life, and proved beyond doubt that they can do anything men can do, and much more, but they have only been hardly visible and insufficiently recognized.

To mark the International Women’s Day, here’s a look at the women of Gujarat who broke the mould and are surely an inspiration.

It is said that ‘Behind every successful man, there is a woman’. So is the case with our Bapu – Gandhiji. Kasturba always stood beside Gandhiji, after they got married in an arranged child marriage, when she was just 13. She was illiterate, but learnt to read and write from Gandhiji. This was a potentially radical move, given the position of women in India at that time.

Kasturba was a very religious lady. She renounced all caste distinctions and lived in ashrams. She even joined Gandhiji in his protests for freedom of the country. Her loyalty was tested when in 1906, Gandhiji made up his mind to practice Brahmacharya. She stood by this decision, though she did not agree with some of the viewpoints of her husband.
Kasturba was born to a prosperous businessman Gokuldas Makharji of Porbander on April 11, 1869. She died of a heart attack on February 22, 1944.


The heart and soul of Gujarati Folk Music, Diwaliben belongs to Junagadh. She was discovered over thirty years ago at a local dance group by a leading folklorist and journalist, Jaimal Parmar. She is known for being one of the 25 celebrity singers for ‘Jityu Hamesha Gujarat’ – the Anthem of Gujarat.
A self-taught artiste, Diwaliben has performed all over the country and around the world. She has sung hundreds of Gujarati bhajans, garbas and folk songs. She also worked for Gujarati films as a singer. Diwaliben has received the prestigious Padmashree in 1990. For many years, in order to maintain a steady income she worked at a Prathmikshala. Her job consisted of gathering the children from surrounding homes and escorting them to the local school.

Elaben is one of the most remarkable forces for empowerment at the grass root level. She has dedicated her life for the development of women and improvement of the quality of life of India’s poor and most oppressed section of people. The soft voiced, simple, cotton-saree clad Elaben has been true to the spirit of her country and her inspiration, Mahatma Gandhi. She has followed his ideals all her life. Elaben pioneered the idea that people themselves, no matter how poor or uneducated, are able to solve their own problems if they organize together to do so. This idea took shape in the form of SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association), which is one of the best grassroots programs for women in the world. She is the proud winner of many awards and heads many organizations.

Elaben broke away from the grip of an established mind-set and created her own paths and methods of organization. She has taken bold steps in a society where men ran the show.

Born in a well-educated, middle-class family on 7th September 1933, Elaben is based at Ahmedabad.


The dazzling Mallika is the daughter of the renowned Vikram and Mrinalini Sarabhai, born on 9th May 1953. A well-known activist and one of the leading choreographers, Mallika has her own dance academy named ‘Darpana’ based at Ahmedabad. She is an accomplished Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam dancer and is known for her contributions in the fields of theatre, television, film, writing and publishing.

Mallika started out when she was just 15. She played the role of ‘Draupadi’ in Peter Brook’s play ‘The Mahabharata’. In 1989, she created the first of her hard-hitting solo theatrical works, Shakti: The Power of Women. She has won many accolades during her long career, the Golden Star Award being one of them, which she won for the Best Dance Soloist, Theatre De Champs Elysees, Paris 1977. She was chosen from among 400 dancers from 25 countries.

Mallika is a representative of India for CIOFF (an internationally acclaimed organization for folk dances). Playing roles as diverse as a mother and a choreographer, and pursuing her interests like writing and social service, Mallika is known to put her best foot forward.

Apart from the above fields, on 19 March 2009, Mallika announced her candidature against the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, as an independent candidate. She eventually lost by a huge margin.

A renowned stage artist, Sarita Joshi is better known as ‘Baa’ in the super hit family entertainer ‘Baa Bahu Aur Baby’. She was born in Pune in 1940, but raised in Vadodara. She started her acting career with Gujarati theatre. She married actor-director-playwright Pravin Joshi and is the mother of Ketaki Dave and Purbi Joshi.

Sarita received international fame because of her role in Abhishek Bachhan starrer ‘Guru’ directed by the renowned filmmaker Mani Ratnam. She was also the central character in the film ‘Dasvidaniya’. Out of all the mediums, she holds a special corner for theatre and stage performances. She claims that the joy of performing on stage is always better than anything else and that it will be her first love.

In 1988, she was awarded with the Sangeet Natak Academy Award. She was also conferred with the Best Actress title in 2007 for her role in the TV soap.

It’s time to salute these women who moved out of their comfort zones as daughters, wives, mothers and sisters. But there are many others who are waiting to get the motivation, opportunity and strength. Women have changed and progressed to unbelievable heights, but one thing is clear – so much is still to change. Let’s pledge for a brighter future!

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The name, Zaverchand Meghani, has a ring of familiarity attached to it, for anyone with a cursory interest in Gujarati Literature. An automatic humming of ‘Ho Raj Mane Lagyo Kasumbi No Rang…’ is bound to start with the mention of this name! Meghani, described by Mahatma Gandhi as a (Raashtriya Shayar) National Poet, continues to dominate the fancy of his readers, generation after generation.

Zaverchand Meghani was born on 28th August, 1896 in Chotila, in a Jain-Vanik family. His parents Father Kalidas and Mother Dholibai were actually from Bagasra, but had to move from village to village, due to the profession of his father, who was in Police and had various postings in different areas. Due to this, Meghani studied at various places and graduated in 1916 with English and Sanskrit from Shamaldas College in Bhavnagar. Meghani was married to Damyantiben in 1922 at Jetpur.

A novelist, a short story writer, a collector and editor of folk-literature, Meghani came to literature through journalism. He started his career with Jivanlal Ltd., an aluminum company in 1917 at Kolkata. He continued for 3 years. Meanwhile, he also visited England. Being exposed to Gujarati and Bengali literature, Meghani started writing in ‘Saurashtra’ a paper published in Ranpur. His journey with the pen never stopped and he authored more than a hundred books.

Meghani has penned 6 poetry collections, 13 novels, 6 short novels, 12 biographies, 4 play collections, 7 folk-song collections and a dozen books, based on critique of folk literature, besides 14 miscellaneous books.

• 1922 – Meghani’s first book was a translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s ballad Kathaa-u-Kaahinee titled ‘Kurbani Ni Katha’
• Further, he moved from one village to another, collecting folklores that he compiled into a book titled ‘Saurashtra Ni Rasdhar’
• 1926 – He made his foray into poetry with his book of children poems ‘Veni Na Phool’
• 1928 – Awarded with the ‘Ranjitram Suvarnachandrak’ for his extensive work on ‘Loksahitya’
• 1930 – Meghani was sentenced for 2 years in jail for writing the book ‘Sindhudo’ which contained war songs to inspire the youth of India
• 1931 – Wrote the poem ‘Chhelo Katoro’ based on Gandhiji’s visit to London for the round table conference
• 1933 – He lost his wife in Botad and in 1934 he moved to Mumbai to marry Chitradevi
• 1934 – Started writing the column ‘Kalam ane Kitab’ for Janmabhoomi. Meanwhile, he also started writing independent novels that established him as a great critic
• 1936-45 – Editor of Phulchhab newspaper
• 1942 – His book ‘Marela na Ruthir’ was published
• 1946 – His book ‘Mansai Na Deeva’ was awarded the ‘Maheeda award’
• 1946 – Meghani was elected to head the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad’s Sahitya Section
• 9th March, 1947 – He expired due to a massive heart attack at the young age of 50, at his residence in Botad

Zaverchand Meghani’s work justifies his vision and imagination, his ability to portray vividly and above all the storm and stress the people suffered from. He was a social reformer who discarded all conventions, and his novels are conclusive proof of this. All this he did for the freedom of the nation. He saw, he sang and he conquered. Today, Meghani lives in the memory of all those who knew him and who continue to read him as a national poet, unrivalled and unmatched.

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A name synonymous with poetry, devotion and Gujarati literature – Narsinh Mehta is the pride of Gujarat and its invaluable language treasures. His lyrics have swayed the hearts of millions of Gujarati people from scholars to illiterate poor for over six centuries. The compositions attributed to Narsinh are inseparable from Gujarati ethos and identity. He was given the proud title of ‘Adi Kavi’ which means ‘first among the poets’.

Narsinh Mehta was born in Talaja, near Bhavnagar, in 1414, Vad Nagar Brahmin by caste. He was a staunch follower of Lord Krishna and there are many instances when the Lord is believed to have come to his rescue. Narsinh faced a lot of problems as a child as he lost his mother in 1425. His uncle raised him, who too passed away soon after Narsinh’s marriage to Manekbai probably in 1428. The couple shifted to his cousin Bansidhar’s house in Junagadh. But Bansidhar’s wife was ill-tempered and did not welcome the couple well. Fed up of the taunts and insults, Narsinh one fine day left the house and went to a nearby forest in search of some peace, where he fasted and meditated for seven days. A legend says that Lord Shiva appeared, appeased by his prayers, took him to Vrindavan and showed him the eternal raas leela of Shri Krishna and the gopis, the cowherd girls of Vrindavan. Narsinh was transfixed by the spectacle and burnt his hand with the torch he was holding but he was so engrossed in the blissful vision that he was oblivious of the pain. He is believed to follow the command of Lord Krishna to sing His praises and the experience of the rasa in this mortal world. He resolved to compose around 22,000 kirtans or compositions.

This dream-like experience changed the life of Narsinh Mehta. He took the blessings of his sister-in-law and thanked her for abusing him. He started living a poor but transformed life in Junagadh with his wife and two children, son named Shamaldas, and a daughter for whom he had special affection, Kunwarbai. Narsinh had little interest in his social life and possessed immense faith in the Lord. He sang and danced to the tunes of Lord’s songs with other disciples, irrespective of their caste, creed or sex. The people, especially Nagars of Junagadh mocked at him at every possible opportunity. But he was truly devoted and poured his heart out in his songs.

All the happenings of Narsinh Mehta’s life when the Lord came to help him are composed in the form of poems and verses. Apart from these, he has written many wonderful divine poems in praise of the Lord, and these summarize the spiritual truths. In a soul-stirring incident, after his daughter Kunwarbai’s marriage in around 1447 to Sringara Mehta’s son, she became pregnant and it was a custom for the girl’s parents to give gifts and presents to all the in-laws during the seventh month of pregnancy. This custom, known as Mameru, was simply out of the reach of poor Narsinh. But the Lord came to his rescue and the Mameru was performed grandly.

At another time, when Narsinh Mehta and his brother were very hungry while they were traveling, the Lord appeared in the form of a shepherd boy, took them to a cottage and offered them food. A little later when his brother returned to take a vessel he had left there, he found neither the cottage nor the shepherd boy anywhere. These and many other such stories in the Gujarati Literature deepen our faith in the Lord and our love for the great poet-saint.

Not many people are aware of the wide range of poetic themes Narsinh handled, dramatic narratives, autobiographical compositions, love songs, philosophical poems of unsurpassable greatness, poems expressing honest moral concerns and the poems on Lord Krishna’s childhood. His poems have carved a niche on our minds and heart.

Mahmud Begada invaded Junagadh in 1467 and soon after many Muslim raids; the city was annexed to the Gujarat Sultanate. Perhaps to escape the consequences, Narsinh went to Mangrol. He is believed to die at the age of 66 in 1480. The striking composer of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite bhajan ‘Vaishnav jan to…’ Narsinh Mehta’s life and work will never fail to inspire us. All glories to this great icon of Gujarat!

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Fervor, practical forcefulness in politics and spirituality are a rare combination that acts like a tripod on which the Indian Politics is built. Shri Morarji Desai is one such unique blend of brightness and reserved nature.

A veteran freedom fighter and former Prime Minister of India, Shri Morarji Desai was born on 29 February, 1896 at Bhadeli village in Gujarat. He was the eldest son to an Anavil Brahmin family of Shri Ranchhodji Desai, a school teacher and Vajiaben (or Maniben) Desai. Morarjibhai grew up under the atmosphere of orthodox religious upbringing and strict discipline that prevailed in his house. He was educated St. Busar High School and passed his matriculation examination. After graduating from the Wilson Civil Service of the then Bombay Province in 1918, he served as a Deputy Collector for twelve years before embarking on a long and varied political career.

The biggest achievement of Shri Morarji Desai was that he was the only person to receive the highest civilian awards from both India and Pakistan, namely the Bharat Ratna and Nishaan-e-Pakistan. Also, he was the world’s oldest (83 years old) and India’s first Non Congress Prime Minister.

In 1930, Morarjibhai quit his reputed job to join the Freedom Movement spearheaded by Gandhiji. Being a man of principles, he had said: “When it was a question of the independence of the country, problems relating to family occupied a subordinate position.” Morarjibhai spent many years in jail for the freedom struggle and soon he was a favorite among the freedom fighters for his leadership skills and tough spirit.

Morarjibhai had a wide-ranging political career. When provincial elections were held in 1934 and 1937, he was elected and served as the Revenue Minister and Home Minister of the then Bombay Presidency. Morarjibhai was arrested for participating in the Satyagraha initiated by Mahatma Gandhi during this time and was freed in October 1941. He was rearrested in August 1942 at the time of the Quit India Movement and was released in 1945. After this, he became the Minister for Home and Revenue at Bombay following the State Elections in 1946. Also, after independence, he remained active on the Indian political scene and was elected as the Chief Minister of Bombay in 1952.

Morarjibhai changed his ministerial portfolio to finance after he became the Minister for Commerce and Industry in the Union Government on November 14, 1956. After working under Lal Bahadur Shashtri’s leadership, he rose to become the Deputy Prime Minister in 1967 Cabinet of Indira Gandhi. But soon disenchantment started cropping up between Mrs. Gandhi and Morarjibhai and the latter resigned in 1968 from his post. In 1974 he supported political agitation in Gujarat, and the following year began a fast in support of elections in the state. He was detained when a state of emergency was proclaimed. After his release in 1977 he was appointed leader of the Janata Party, a coalition opposed to Mrs. Gandhi’s rule, and he finally became Prime Minister after the elections that same year. The Janata Government was, however, characterized by much internal strife, and Desai was forced to resign in 1979, at the age of 83.

During this vast career, some landmark achievements crowned the glory of Morarjibhai. He improved the relations with Pakistan which were derailed after the 1971 war and also restored the political relations with China which had received a setback since the 1962 war. His chief contribution was that his Government enhanced popular faith in democracy. His Government annulled some of the legislations passed during the emergency and made it difficult for any future Government to impose emergencies.

Morarjibhai was a staunch follower of the Gandhian principles and it is also believed that he used to drink his own urine to stay healthy. Morarjibhai as a PM believed that people of India must be assisted to become fearless to an extent where even if the highest in the land commits a wrong, the humblest should be able to point it out to him. “No one, not even the Prime Minister”, he had repeatedly said “should be above the law of the land”.
Shri Morarjibhai Desai passed away at the age of 99, on 10 April, 1995.

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