A Parsi Odyssey
- The first printing press was started in India in the year 1778 by Mr.
Rustomji Cursetji. In 1780, he printed the first book in English under the
title “Bombay Calendar.”
The first printing press to have got international acclaim was the Union
Press started by Mr. Nanabhai Rustomji Ranina. Mr. Nanabhai Rustomji Ranina
was also the first to print an English to Gujarati and Gujarati to English
The oldest existing newspaper in India, The Bombay Samachar was started
by a Parsi on July 1st., 1822. It changed hands a number of times but has
throughout been Parsi owned, and is currently been managed by the Camas.
Madam Bhikaiji Cama (l86l – 1936) was the first Indian to have conceived
the idea of a National Flag for India, which she designed and unfurled at
the Socialist Congress in Germany in 1907.
Dr. Manek Bejanji Pithawalla was the first Indian to obtain a Doctorate
in Geography in India.
Behramji Sorabji Lalkaka (1880 – 1957) was the first to start a heavy
chemical industry in India. He started the Pioneer Magnesia Works Ltd. In
1915 for the manufacture of Magnesium Chloride, the import of which from
Germany was stopped due to World War I. Magnesium Chloride is used for
sizing in the Textile Industry.
Miss. Amy B. H. J. Rustomji, M.A. (Cantab) was the first and only Asiatic
lady to hold the office of Vice President of the International Federation
for University for Women for the term 1956 – 1959.
The first two Indian Members elected to the Bombay Branch of the Royal
Asiatic Society were both Parsees – Mr. Manekji in 1840 and Mr.
Cursetji Dadabhoy Wadia in 1844.
Mr. Ardeshir Edulji Cama A.C.A. (1879 – 1948) was the first Indian Member
of the Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales in
1908 – the first Indian Chartered Accountant.
Mr. Jamshedji Sorabji Sethna was the first and only Indian Vice Consul
for France in 1905.
Dr. Shiavux Sorabji Banker was the first Indian to be the head of the
Medical Department on a company managed Railway, the B.B.& C.I Railway in
Dr. Muncherji Jamasjee Mistry L.M.& S. was the first Indian to become a
Civil Surgeon in 1887 at Godra in the present Gujarat State.
Mr. Khujesteh Kaikobad Batliwalla was the first Indian to be appointed
Chief Inspector of Boilers and Factories in U.P. in 1939.
Col. Dhunjishah Naoroji Parakh was the first Indian to be appointed
Professor of Midwifery in the Grant Medical College, Bombay in 1888. He was
also the second Indian to pass the I.M.S. Examination, the first being his
uncle, Surgeon Major Rustomji Behramji who took his commission in 1875
direct from the hands of Queen Victoria.
Mr. Charag Jehangir Mistry, F.R.H.S. was the first Indian to be Grand
Secretary of the Grand Lodge of all Scottish Freemasonary in India.
Capt. Miss. Pheroza S. Davar, M.B.B.S., I.M.S., was the first Indian
Army Lady Doctor commissioned in 1942.
Miss. Shirin Jal Virjee was the first Indian lady to receive the Diploma
in Sculpture in 1941 from the Royal College of Arts, London.
Mr. Sorabji Cawasji Kharas (1821 – 1875) was the first Indian to go as a
businessman to Aden in 1839.
Mr. Burjor Sorabji Kharas (1831 – 1875) was the first Indian Consul for
the U. S. A. in Aden during 1869 – 1875.
Mr. Pherozshah Nasarvanji Daroowalla was the first Indian to have passed
the examination of Doctors of Law from the London University in 1913.
Khan Saheb Kekobad Navroji Mody was the first Indian to become Supdt. Of
Railway Police on the B.B.& C.I. Railways in 1870.
Mr. Cawasji Dhunjibhoy Mahaluxmiwalla (1863 – 1950) was the first Indian
to be made Superintendent of a public garden, Maharajbagh, at Nagpur in
1885, and the Victoria Gardens in Bombay in 1892.
The first Indian Cricket Team to visit England in 1886 was composed
entirely of Parsees, and was captained by Dr. Dhunjishaw Hirjibhai Patel,
who can very well be called the First Indian Cricket Captain.
Mr. Naoroji Dadabhai Katrak was the first Indian to be appointed Chief
Engineer of the Bombay Improvement Trust in 1925.
Mr. Cursetjee Maneckshah Cursetjee (1847 – 1935) was the first Indian to
be admitted as an under-graduate at Oxford in 1864.
The first three men to circumvent the earth on bycycles were all Parsees
– Adi Hakim, Rustom Bhumgara and Jal Bapasola – 1928.
- The first two Indians to be awarded the D.S.O. were Parsee in World War
I – Capt. (later Maj. Gen.) Cursetjee and Capt. (later Col.) Bharucha, both
of the I.M.S.
The only instance of all three brothers winning the D.F.C. – the
Engineer brothers – in World War II was Parsees. Aspy, (retired as Free
India’s second Air Chief), Minoo, with a P.V.S.M., and M.V.C. and a Padma
Bhushan, retired as an Air Marshall – probably the highest decorated officer
then in the Indian Armed Forces, and Pesi who left the I.A.F. to freelance.
And yet a fourth brother had joined the Army and served through World War
The first three Indians to have sat in the British House of Commons were
Dr. Dadabhoy Naoroji, Sir Muncherji Bhawnargree and Sir Shapurji
The first Iron and Steel Works in India, the Tata Iron and Steel Company
was started by Mr. Jamshedji N. Tata in Jamshedpur in 1907.
The first Cotton Mill in India, The Bombay Spinning and Weaving Co., was
started in Bombay by Mr. Kavasji Nanabhoy Davar in 1854.
The first Indian to be made a Baronet was Sir Dinshaw Petit. The title
was conferred on him by Queen Victoria in 1890.
The Parsees are the only community to have produced Chiefs of all three
armed forces – Air Marshall Aspi Engineer, Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw and
Admiral Jal Cursetjee.
Khushru F. Rustomji, the doyen of Indian Policeman, raised and commanded
the BSF during the 1971 operations.
India’s first ever, and singularly successful, time urgent response,
international intervention operation involving all the three services was
led by Brig. Bulsara in the Republic of Maldives, November 1988.
The first Indian to be made a Field Marshall was Gen. Sam H. F. J.
Manekshaw in 1972.
The first Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission was Dr.
Homi Bhabha, an eminent Nuclear Scientist.
- The First Indian Directer of The Royal Institue of Science war Dr.
Faridoon R. Bharucha.
- being forwarded as received- not verified
Yezdyar S. Kaoosji