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Nani Adeshir Palkhivala

Indian jurist and activist
Written By:

  • The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
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Originally published in the Britannica Book of the Year. Presented as archival content. Learn more .
This article was originally published in the Britannica Book of the Year, an annual print publication that
provides an overview of the year’s most-notable people and events.
Unlike most articles on Britannica.com, Book of the Year articles are not reviewed and revised after their initial publication.
Rather, they are presented on the site as archival content, intended for historical reference only.

Nani Adeshir Palkhivala, Indian jurist and civil rights activist (born Jan. 16, 1920, Bombay [now Mumbai], India—died Dec. 11, 2002, Mumbai), was revered in India as a top authority on constitutional law and government finance. In 1958 Palkhivala, a lawyer and private businessman, began an annual tradition of publicly expounding on the country’s budget; these speeches brought him renown as an expert on taxation and as a gifted orator. Although he opposed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s policies, Palkhivala in 1975 agreed to defend her when she was charged with corruption. When Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution, however, he resigned. After Gandhi’s defeat in the 1977 general elections, Palkhivala was named ambassador to the U.S., a position he held until 1979. He remained politically active later in life, lobbying for better living standards for India’s poor and for a more effective and responsible government.

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