Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Unsung Heroes Detail

Dhirajlal Desai


June 30, 2022

Dhirajlal Desai, popularly known as Dhirubhai, was born on 22 June 1908 in Bombay. Being the son of the notable lawyer and prominent leader, Bhulabhai Desai, Dhirajlal had a legacy to carry forward. And living up to such expectations he proved his mark when he became India’s first ambassador to Switzerland. In 1941, he was elected as the President of the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee (BPCC). On 11 February 1941 under the auspices of BPCC, Dhirajlal delivered a public speech. During the meeting of 24 February 1942, at Ghodapdev, Reay Road, Bombay, he delivered yet another speech.

Dhirajlal Desai found in his young age the passion of being a courageous and impressive orator whose candour and urge to break the political deadlock before the Quit India movement earned him prominence in Bombay. He found the empire’s attitude quite contemptuous, for it denied Congress’ the right to speech. In a meeting at a bustling commercial hub of the grain market called Dana Bunder, Bombay, he addressed the busy crowd that they should adjudicate the interlocking events after the civil disobedience movement and convert the injustice into an advantageous program for a common cause. Desai left a deep impact on the audience in his speech at Ghodapdev, Reay Road, Bombay, where he straightly questioned the audience, “Why are so many Congressmen going to Jail?”. After which, he sadly noted, “The Congress is today denied the right of free speech”. Since the masses he addressed mostly consisted of the working class, he insisted they must earn a small income by spinning charkha at least half an hour a day and live free from foreign dependency. With the rhetoric of freedom and self-reliance, Desai finds a befitting place among the prominent advocates of autonomy in Bombay.

He passed away on 21 March 1951.