‘India had democracy before others dreamt of it’: On Morarji Desai birth anniversary, great-grandson shares video

‘India had democracy before others dreamt of it’: On Morarji Desai birth anniversary, great-grandson shares video

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi was joined by other leaders in paying tribute to Morarji Desai on his 125th birth anniversary Sunday, the latter’s great-grandson, Madhukeshwar Desai, shared on social media a video clip of an interview, in which the former PM is talking of India being the oldest cradle of democracy in the world.

In the interview clip, Desai can be heard saying “India has a vitality and a faith in democracy” which people outside India did not think was present “in sufficient measure”. “Even in India, some people thought like that, because even in India, there are people who don’t know India itself, that has been the result of Western influence,” the former PM says.

“People forget that democracy is more natural to India than any other country. Because there was democracy in India before any other country in the world even dreamt of it. It is there in the Vedas, described so fully and firmly,” Desai adds.

When the interviewer says that many British people would like to think democracy is their gift to India, Desai says, “If it pleases their vanity, I have no quarrel about it. But we had Republics — fully, fairly elected — 2,500 years ago, much earlier than even Greece had its own kind of democracy.”

Morarji Desai, a long-time Congress man, became the first non-Congress Prime Minister of India, after being elected Leader of the Janata Party in Parliament post the 1977 General Elections. He held the chair from March 24, 1977 to July 28, 1979.

Desai had been Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister under Indira Gandhi until 1969, when she took the finance portfolio from him. Desai then resigned as Deputy PM too. When the Congress split in the same year, Desai joined the Indian National Congress (Organisation), as opposed to Indira Gandhi’s Indian National Congress (Ruling). He was jailed during the Emergency.

On Sunday on his 125th birth anniversary, PM Modi tweeted, “Remembering our former PM Shri Morarjibhai Desai. In his long years of public service, he worked tirelessly for India’s development. He was known for his impeccable integrity and unwavering commitment to democracy.”

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu tweeted, “My humble tributes to former Prime Minister, Shri Morarji Desai. He was a true Gandhian, who never compromised on the principles he believed in. He was a great administrator, strict disciplinarian and an anti-corruption crusader. Shri Desai believed in simple living & high thinking. He will be always remembered for his contribution to nation-building.”

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