Morarji Desai(29 February 1896 – 10 April 1995) was an Indian independence activist and the Prime Minister of India from 1977 to 1979. He was also the first Prime Minister to head India’s first non-Congress Government. He held many important posts in the Government of India such as: Chief Minister of Bombay State, Home Minister, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India.
On the international scene, Desai holds international fame for his peace activism and made efforts to initiate peace between two rival South Asian states, Pakistan and India. After India’s first nuclear explosion in 1974, Desai helped restore friendly relations with China and Pakistan, and vowed to avoid armed conflict such as Indo-Pakistani war of 1971. Domestically, he played a crucial role in the Indian nuclear program after it was targeted by major nuclear powers after conducting a surprise test in 1974. Morarji Desai closed down much of India’s premier intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), and reduced its budget and operations.
Desai remains the only Indian national to be conferred with Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Pakistan, which was conferred on him by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1990 in a colorful ceremony. Later, his policies promoted social, health and administrative reforms in the country. It is rumored that he was a mole of CIA in Indira Gandhi led cabinet. He also revealed the R&AW is well aware of Pakistan’s Nuclear activity in Kahuta to the Pakistani general Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in a telephonic conversation, killing all agents of R&AW.
In retirement, he lived in Mumbai and died in 1995 at the age of 99. He was much honoured in his last years as a freedom-fighter of his generation.