Morarji Desai

Morarji Desai’s Visit to INS Shakti

Manohar Awati
Manohar Awati

Manohar Pralhad Awati was born in September 1927, had his schooling in King George's School, Mumbai, and The Maharashtra Education Society School, Pune. He was selected for the Royal Indian Navy in November 1945. He was awarded the Vir Chakra for his role as the Commanding Officer of INS Kamorta during the 1971 war with Pakistan. In March 1983, he retired as a Vice Admiral and the Flag officer Commanding- in-Chief of the Western Naval Command. His love for ecology and its conservation emerged after retirement, in association with the legendary Dr Salim Ali. His particular love for the conservation of the Lion and the Tiger was reflected in the books he edited ­Homo Sapiens and Panthera Leo and The Vanishing Indian Tiger.  Another of his post-retirement ventures is the conception and founding of the Maritime History Society of India, a unique institution which sustains all of maritime research in India today.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in Quarterdeck, from where it is reproduced by permission from the author.

Shri Morarji Desai, Prime Minister, boarded INS Shakti by helicopter, off Cochin (now Kochi) one fine morning in February 1979.

Captain S. K. Gupta, MVC, NM (known in the Service as Gigi to his friends and admirers) was in command. I had, earlier, transferred my flag to Shakti.

My meetings with Prime Minister Desai when he was out of power

Subhash Mathur

Subhash Mathur is a resident of Jaipur after superannuation from Indian Revenue Service in 2007. Presently, Subhash is engaged in social and charitable work in rural areas. Subhash is also Editor of, an online portal for preserving work related memories.

I had the privilege of driving Morarji Desai, India's future Prime Minister, when I was a young college student in Jaipur.

Humiliated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's decision to take away his Finance Ministry portfolio without consulting him, and disagreeing strongly with her decision to nationalise the fourteen biggest banks in India, he resigned from his position as Deputy Prime Minister on 16 July, 1969.

My father, Shri Khem Chand, had retired from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in April 1969. In his retirement, he was looking for ways to keep himself busy. (He passed in 2004).

A civil servant before he turned politician, Morarji Desai kept up a regular postal correspondence with my father. I, and my siblings, typed Daddy's letters on a portable, manual typewriter that we had bought from a foreign scholar who had come to Jaipur.

We do not have the letters my father wrote to Morarji, as he was commonly called. However, we have two letters written by Morarji to my father in 1970.

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