Sifting through history, Morarji family contributes its bit to museum of PMs

A view of the Morarji Desk parker pen.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a Parker pen, a Gandhi ‘topi’ (cap) and a ‘tulsi mala’ are some of personal effects of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai that will make their way to the Museum of Prime Ministers set to be inaugurated a few weeks later. The former Prime Minister’s great grandson, national vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP, has taken on the task of sifting through the memorabilia that will be handed over to the museum authorities.

“I was contacted by museum authorities if there were some personal effects and specific photographs, like that of Bapuji’s [Morarji’s] primary school etc. Most of what was connected to him was already sent, according to his wishes, to the Gujarat Vidyapeeth. Thus his Bharat Ratna and the Nishan-e-Pakistan [awarded to Morarji in 1988] are all with the Gujarat Vidyapeeth, we have some personal effects that we have selected, and depending on what the museum wants to display, they will be shared,” said Madhukeshwar Desai, speaking to The Hindu.

An ordinary Parker pen that was held dear by the former Prime Minister has an interesting story attached to it. In 1977, an aircraft Morarji was travelling on crashed in Jorhat, and while the five-member crew perished, Morarji and his entourage survived, with the former Prime Minister the least harmed. “He came away with a fractured rib and somehow associated this pen with that escape, as it had been in his pocket near his heart,” said Mr. Madhukeshwar Desai. Last year, a bicycle expedition from Jorhat to Palam was organised by the Air Headquarters communication squadron to honour the crew members who died, and who, inquiry commissions into the crash established, had done their utmost to save the passengers.

Other objects that could be sent to the museum include a Bhagavad Gita and a ‘tulsi mala’ that remained with Morarji till his death in 1995. A Gandhi ‘topi’, one of several in his collection, has also been kept aside for the museum. Mr. Madhukeshwar Desai has around 14 cartons of only photographs to sift through as well, but is happy that the project is marking the contribution of all Prime Ministers of India.

The museum, under the Ministry of Culture, will be 10,975 sq km in size and digital and virtual reality displays will also be there alongside physical display of personal effects and photographs of former Prime Ministers. Space for future Prime Ministers has also been kept aside, while the museum dedicated to first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, will remain in the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library premises as before.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 1:15:42 PM |

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