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P. V. Narasimha Rao (28 Jun 1921 - 23 Dec 2004)

Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao was born on June 28, 1921 at Vangara (village), Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh. His father was P. Ranga Rao. He studied in Osmania University, Hyderabad, Bombay University and the Nagpur University. He was able to speak in 17 languages. He was an agriculturist and an advocate. He was an active freedom-fighter during India's indpendence movement, and after independence, he joined politics full time. He was the Minister of Law and Information, 1962-64; Law and Endowments, 1964-67; Health and Medicine, 1967 and Education, 1968-71, Government of Andhra Pradesh. He was the Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh, 1971-73; General Secretary, All India Congress Committee, 1975-76; Chairman, Telugu Academy, Andhra Pradesh, 1968-74; Vice-President, Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Madras, from 1972. He was also Member, Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, 1957-77; Member, Lok Sabha 1977-84. He was Minister for External Affairs from January 14, 1980 to July 18, 1984; Minister of Home Affairs from July 19, 1984 to December 31, 1984 and the Minister of Defence from December 31, 1984 to September 25, 1985. He then assumed charge as Minister of Human Resource Development on September 25, 1985.

successfully published 'SahasraPhan', a Hindi translation of late Shri Viswanatha Satyanarayana's famous Telegu Novel 'Veyi Padagalu' published by Jnanpith; 'Abala Jeevitam', Telugu translation of late Shri Hari Narayan Apte's famous Marathi Novel, "Pan Lakshat Kon gheto", published by Central Sahitya Academy. He translated other famous works from Marathi to Telugu and from Telugu to Hindi, and published many articles in different magazines mostly under a pen name. He lectured at Universities in the U.S.A. and West Germany on political matters and allied subjects. As Minister of External Affairs he travelled extensively to U.K., West Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Egypt in 1974.

After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the general elections of 1991 , Rao was chosen to lead the Congress party and after Congress won in parliament later that year he became Prime Minister. He was the first person outside the Nehru-Gandhi family to serve as Prime Minister for five continuous years. He was also the first Prime Minister to lead a minority government for a full term .

His government survived a "no-confidence" vote in Parliament in 1994. In 1996 a corruption scandal rocked the government. When general elections were held in May, Rao and Congress were badly defeated, and he lost the prime ministership. He retained leadership of the Congress party until late 1996 . After his retirement from national politics Rao published a novel named The Insider . The controversial book, which follows the career of a person as he rises through the ranks of Indian politics, resembled events from Rao's own life. Rao, however, denied any connection. Rao passed away from heart attack in December 2004 at the age of 83.

He was never an iconic leader. And while his leadership through the economic crisis, terrorism, religious violence and corruption scandals inspired the people to beat the odds, endure the hardship and look at the future optimistically, he was never loved or idolized. And since the fruits of his substantial labors were long to materialize, he was never actually as popular as his more iconic predecessors, who had faced and achieved much less.

Rao suffered a heart attack on 9 December 2004, and was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences where he died 14 days later at the age of 83.

Nine Unknown Men

Nine Unknown Men are a two millennia-old secret society founded by the Indian Emperor Asoka.