Category Archives: Notable Zoroastrians
Hon’ble Mr Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, Judge, Supreme Court of India, speaks on ‘Guardian Angel of Fundamental Rights’ at the Sixteenth Nani A. Palkhivala Memorial Lecture on 15 December, 2018.
Awarded the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan and the OBE, Dr Tehemton Erach Udwadia is widely regarded as the father of laparoscopy in India. From 1951 as a medical student to the present day, he has not only witnessed first-hand the avalanche of surgical progress, but has also seen lives saved as a result of these advances, be it a disposable plastic syringe or a liver transplant.
In this, his memoirs, he painstakingly maps his journey from his student years through residency, research, surgical practice and surgical teaching with a view to sharing the lessons he has learnt. And what they can teach you.
More Than Just Surgery is a warm personal account of people, incidents, mentors, failures and absurdities against the backdrop of surgery. It is also an engrossing historical account through the eyes and hands of someone who has lived through the journey.
Nani Ardeshir Palkhivala was born on January 16, 1920 in the Bombay Presidency of British India to a Parsi working-class family. He is arguably India’s greatest lawyer, and one of the greatest intellectuals of modern India. Palkhivala was admitted to the bar in 1946 and worked with the famed lawyer Sir Jamshedji Behramji Kanga in Bombay.
Palkhivala’s first contribution in a case of constitutional importance was in 1951: he assisted his senior Sir Noshirwan Engineer as a junior counsel in Nusserwanji Balsara vs. State of Bombay (1951). His first significant case before the Supreme Court came in 1954: State of Bombay vs. Bombay Education Society (1954), where the prime issue of contention was the interpretation of Articles 29(2) and 30 of the Indian Constitution. Articles 29 and 30 secure minority rights, which include educational and cultural opportunities. Considering the recent attacks on minorities in educational institutions, looking back at this judgment makes more sense than ever.
Article 29(1) safeguards all citizens who have a distinct language, script, or culture by guaranteeing their right to preserve it. A minority community has the right to preserve its language, script, or culture through educational institutions, as guaranteed by Article 30 of the Indian Constitution.
“Protection of minorities is the hallmark of a civilisation.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Palkhivala represented Barnes High School, an Anglo-Indian school. The school had challenged a circular issued by the then State of Bombay. The circular stated that “no primary or secondary school shall from the date of the order admit to a class where English is used as the medium of instruction any pupil other than a pupil belonging to a section of citizens the language of which is English namely, Anglo-Indians and citizens of non-Asiatic descent.” He argued that the impugned circular was an unwarranted and wanton encroachment on the liberty of the parents and guardians to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
Palkhivala also pointed out the salutary principle of imparting education through the medium of the pupil’s mother tongue should require that a pupil whose mother tongue is not English but is, say, Gujarati, be barred from enrolling in an Anglo-Indian School where the medium of instruction is English, but not from enrolling in a school where the medium of instruction is a regional language, say Konkani, which is not the pupil’s mother tongue.
The then-Attorney General, M.C. Setalvad, argued that Article 29(2) does not confer any fundamental right on all citizens in general but rather guarantees the rights of citizens of minority groups by stating that they must not be denied admission to educational institutions, and underlined the word “only” in Article 29(2). He argued that the impugned order did not deny entrance to any citizen solely on the basis of religion, race, caste, language, or any combination of these factors.
Palkhivala argued for almost 32 out of 66 days that the hearings went on for.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Palkhivala and Barnes High School. It held:
“Where … a minority like the Anglo Indian community, which is based, inter-alia, on religion and language has the fundamental right to conserve its language, script and culture under Article 29(1) and has the right to establish and administer educational institution of their choice under Article 30(1), surely then there must be implicit in the fundamental right, the right to impart instruction in their own institutions to children of their own community in their own language … Such being the fundamental right the police power of the state to determine the medium of instruction must yield to the fundamental right to the extent it is necessary to give effect to it and can not be permitted to run counter to it.”
Palkhivala engaged in some of India’s most critical constitutional battles, protecting, among other things, ordinary citizens’ fundamental rights. He had unsuccessfully challenged the government’s specious policy decision to nationalise banks in 1969. The Indian banking sector, according to one view, continues to suffer the consequences of bank nationalisation. Having said that, other significant victories followed, most notably Bennett Coleman & Co. & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors. (1972), in which he defended the Times of India newspaper’s proprietors from harassment by the union government, which sought to stifle dissenting views against the regime emerging in the newspaper. The Centre had imposed severe import limitations on newsprint as part of an effort to silence the press, which were overturned through Palkhivala’s advocacy before the Supreme Court.
“It was not Nani who spoke. It was divinity speaking through him.” – Justice H.R. Khanna
And of course, no discourse on Palkhivala is complete without the mention of arguably the most important case of his career, Kesavananda Bharati vs. State of Kerala (1973), which left a lasting impact on Indian Constitutional jurisprudence and polity. A full bench of 13 Supreme Court judges heard the case for about five months, making it one of the longest Supreme Court hearings. Palkhivala argued for almost 32 out of 66 days that the hearings went on for. It led to the Supreme Court interpreting the “Basic Structure” of the Indian Constitution.
Palkhivala’s service to the country was not limited to the courts. He was well-known for his annual Budget speeches, in which he critiqued India’s budget for the general public. From 1958 through 1994, he gave this speech every year after the budget was presented in Parliament. The Forum of Free Enterprise hosted the event. The address, which began at a hotel in Bombay, would one day be held in Mumbai’s packed Brabourne Stadium. He argued that the law should not only be understood by judges and lawyers, but also by the general public.
He argued that the law should not only be understood by judges and lawyers, but also by the general public.
“The Constitution was meant to impart such a momentum to the living spirit of the rule of law that democracy and civil liberty may survive in India beyond our own times and in the days when our place will know us no more.” – Nani Palkhivala
In this day and age, where human rights violations run rampant, and the State goes unaccountable, we need the spirit of Nani Palkhivala more than ever.
(Afreen Alam is a Delhi-based researcher and writer. She is a final year law student at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. Shivansh Saxena is a student of law at the Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, IP University and a member of the Indian Civil Liberties Union. The views expressed are personal.)
The concept of the IITs originated even before India gained independence in 1947. After the end of the Second World War and before India got independence, Sir Ardeshir Dalal from the Viceroy’s Executive Council foresaw that the future prosperity of India would depend not so much on capital as on technology. He, therefore, proposed the setting up of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. To man those laboratories, he persuaded the US government to offer hundreds of doctoral fellowships under the Technology Cooperation Mission (TCM) program. However realizing that such steps can not help in the long run for the development of India after it gains independence, he conceptualized institutes that would train such work forces in the country itself. This is believed to be the first conceptualization of IITs.
Adershir was born on 24 April 1884 in Bombay to Rustomjee Dalal, who worked as share-broker. In 1905 he applied for J. N. Tata Scholarship for higher studies went to London and finally appeared for ICS examination and joined Indian Civil Service in 1908.
He served as Collector in various areas of India before he became the first Indian to become Municipal Commissioner of Bombay in 1928.
In June 1944, he resigned from Tatas as the Viceroy, Lord Wavell, invited him to join the Viceroy’s Executive Council as Member-in-Charge of Planning and Development. His contributions as one of the architects of the Government of India’s post war economic plan formulated in 1945 have been noted.
Homi Jehangir Bhabha Birth Anniversary: Lesser known facts about the Father of India’s Nuclear Programme
Homi Jehangir Bhabha was born on October 30, 1909, in Mumbai. He was an Indian nuclear physicist, founding director, and professor of physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).
His contribution towards India’s growth has been impeccable. He had a great visionary ability which resulted in impactful development for the country. TIFR and AEET were the cornerstone of Indian development of nuclear weapons under the direction of Homi Bhabha.
Here are some interesting facts about the legend:
Homi Jehangir Bhabha was born into a prominent wealthy Parsi family. He completed his education at Bombay’s Cathedral and John Connon School and entered Elphinstone College, before joining Caius College of Cambridge University.
His immense love and interest for mathematics never stopped and in 1932, he obtained first-class on his Mathematical Tripos. He was awarded the Rouse Ball travelling studentship in mathematics.
His first scientific paper, “The Absorption of Cosmic radiation” received a lot of appreciation.
Homi Bhabha served as the Reader in the Physics Department of the Indian Institute of Science in 1939.
Homi Bhabha understood the need of better research schools. He made up his mind and in March 1944, he sent a proposal to the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust for establishing ‘a vigorous school of research in fundamental physics’.
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, was inaugurated in 1945.
Homi Bhabha represented India in the International Atomic Energy Forums as President of the United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, in Geneva, Switzerland in 1955. He was also elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1958.
Bhabha believed in vast thorium reserves rather than its meagre uranium reserves. His strategic objective became India’s three stage nuclear power programme.
Homi Bhabha was awarded the Adams Prize in 1942, and Padma Bhushan 1954. He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1951 and 1953–1956.
Bhabha died in a plane crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Many believed that it was an assassination.
FOREWORD BY DR. SIR CHIMANLAL H. SETALVAD, K.C.I.E., LL.D.
I have much pleasure in writing this Foreword to the life of Sir Hormusjee Cowasjee Dinshaw, an excellent volume so ably written by Mr. A. N. Joshi, BA., LLB., an Advocate of the Bombay High Court.
Sir Hormusjee, who is a well known figure in his community, is the head of the Adenwalia family which has for some generations made a great name as merchants and financiers at Aden and Bombay. The history of their rise from poverty to affluence makes very instructive reading. The kindness and courtesy of the Adenwallas are pro-verbial and Indians travelling between India and Europe can never forget the great hospitality that has always been extended to them by Sir Hormusjee and his family whenever they pass through Aden.
Sir Hormusjee is a very unassuming, kind and liberal gentleman and he has always extended his helping hand to all objects of public usefulness. His silent charity to people of his own community as well as of other communities is well-known in Bombay. For his philanthropy and other acts of public utility he has made himself very popular not only in Aden and Bombay but in other parts of the Presidency as well. A detailed biography therefore of such a personality will be welcomed by the public-
CHIMANLAL H SETALVAD
BOMBAY, 10th June, 1939.
How a Family Built a
Business and a Nation
Congratulations to Padma Shri Mr. Yazdi Karanjia for the prestigious “GUJARAT RATNA GAURAV AWARD” which was awarded to him on August 7, 2021 at J. B. Auditorium, Ahmedabad. Sir, you are a real motivation and a true inspiration for everybody around. May you keep winning such accolades and always make our community proud.