Category Archives: Notable Zoroastrians

Captain Hormusji FJ Manekshaw, IMS and Mrs Hilla H Manekshaw.

This rare photograph is of very proud parents who gave India a very famous son and another decorated less well known son, too.
They had six children. The gentleman was a Doctor who served in the (British Indian Armed Forces’) Indian Military Service.
Captain Hormusji FJ Manekshaw, IMS and Mrs Hilla H Manekshaw.
Parents of Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, MC. And Air Vice Marshal Jimmy HFJ Manekshaw.
Hormusji, was born in Balsar (Valsad) and became a doctor. He was married to Hilla, a Parsi girl from Bombay whom he had met while studying medicine at the Grant Medical College.
Hormusji began practising in Bombay but later moved to Amritsar, where there were fewer doctors and better prospects for setting up a medical practice.
During World War I, he served in Mesopotamia and Egypt and was given the rank of a Captain in the Medical Services.
Hormusji and Hilla had six children, who were all born in Amritsar.
The eldest, Fali, joined Stewarts and Lloyds in Calcutta after getting his engineering degree from England.
Silla, the second child, was a lovable girl with a jest for life and sense of humour, qualities that endeared her to everyone in the family, especially her nephews and nieces.
Jan, the second son, followed his elder brother and studied engineering in England. He joined Calender Cables (later Indian Cables), from where he retired as Director.
The next was Sehra, who was considered the beauty of the family. She got married and settled in Bombay.
Sam was the fifth child, followed by Jimmy, the only one who followed his father and became a doctor. He joined the Air Force and was the first Indian to get his air surgeon’s wings from Pensacola, USA. Jimmy went on to become an AVM- Air Vice Marshal Jimmy H.F.J. Manekshaw .
Sam was initially given the name Cyrus, but one of his aunts changed it to Sam, because she had heard that a Parsi called Cyrus had been sent to jail, and she considered the name would prove unlucky for her nephew.
Sam’s eldest brother Fali did his schooling in Bombay, but the others boys – Jan, Sam and Jimmy were all sent to Sherwood College, Nainital for their education. His two sisters went to the Convent in Murree.
Hormusji was fond of music and gardening and all his children inherited these interests in some measure. Hilla was known for her cooking, and spent a lot of time in the kitchen especially when her ravenous brood was at home. She was an expert at Parsi dishes, and her speciality was chokha ni rotli (rice chapatti).
Her son Jimmy’s wife Bhikoo Manekshaw recalls that a pile of a hundred rotli cooked by her mother-in-law would be no higher than two inches, and if a silver rupee coin was placed on top, it would sink to the bottom.
We owe them eternal respect and a debt of gratitude from a nation. 🙏

More Than Just Surgery

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 Palkhivala’s Relevance to Our Times

C. Rajagopalachari is widely quoted to have said “Nani is God’s gift to India”, though we could not find out in which context and when Rajaji had said it, which became a part of the legend that Nani Palkhivala has been to the current generation. Today is the 102nd birth anniversary of Palkhivala. An opinion piece by Afreen Alam and Shivansh Saxena.

Image credit: The Leaflet

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.)


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Did you know the conceptualiser of IITs in India?

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.[2] 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.[1]

He served as Collector in various areas of India before he became the first Indian to become Municipal Commissioner of Bombay in 1928.[2]

He was the founder of IIT’S. He joined Tata Group as a Director of Tata Steel in 1931 and served Tata group till 1941 and again from 1945 his death in 1949.[2] He was knighted in 1939.[3]

He was one of the signatories to the Bombay Plan formulated in 1944.[4]

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.[1][2] His contributions as one of the architects of the Government of India’s post war economic plan formulated in 1945 have been noted.[1]

He was knighted again as a KCIE in 1946[5] died on 8 October 1949.[1]

A hospital-cum-nursing college in Jamshedpur has been named after him as Ardeshir Dalal Memorial Hospital.[6]

Lesser known facts about the Father of India’s Nuclear Programme – Homi Bhabha

Homi Jehangir Bhabha Birth Anniversary: Lesser known facts about the Father of India’s Nuclear Programme

Homi Jehangir Bhabha is considered to be the ‘Father of the Indian 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.

Homi Jehangir Bhabha is considered to be the ‘’Father of the Indian nuclear programme’.

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.

FPJ Web Desk

Life & Times of Sir Hormusjee C. Dinshaw – Founder of Zoroastrian Bank

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-

BOMBAY, 10th June, 1939.


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Adi Farewell – By Nadir Godrej

Adi is my elder brother,
For good advice, there was no other.
He always took the greatest care
And in all things was very fair.
At school he was extremely smart,
Excelled in all, except for art.
For fame he never seemed to hanker,
In SSC he was first ranker.
Then Xavier’s college up to Inter.
He then had to contend with winter
As his next step was MIT,
Where, when just twenty-one, you see,
He was both Bachelor and Master.
And few have ever done it faster!
Once back home he started work.
No matter what, he’d never shirk.
This was way back in ‘63.
The years have passed as you can see.
His arrival meant rising hopes
For forty-year-old Godrej Soaps.
Just two crore was then the size.
And Adi set out to modernise-
MBA’s were soon recruited
And cars for managers were mooted.
The marketing was revamped,
And those who couldn’t change decamped.
He introduced cost accounting
And soon the sales started mounting.
But hair dye was his greatest coup
And over the years, it grew and grew.
The nineties then brought quite a change
The landscape now seemed very strange-
With multinationals at the door
We hardly knew what was in store.
Pepsi and Coke bought all in sight.
Should we sell or should we fight?
We chose a path that’s in between.
In hindsight now it can be seen
That Indian firms that learnt to hone
Their skills easily held their own.
But then we thought that we should seek
Strong partners or we would stay weak.
And so, we formed the odd joint venture,
Which proved to be quite an adventure,
We learnt a lot and that’s for sure.
It helps us still to endure.
An acquisition that was bold
Brought HI into our fold.
And many more were unfurled
As we spread around the world.
Though Godrej Soaps began to soar
On market price we couldn’t score.
Then our advisors thought it fit
That Godrej Soaps should be split.
GCPL came in to being.
And Adi, very quickly seeing,
The trend for better governance,
Put into place all at once,
With lots of help from CII,
Best practices that surely vie
With the very best in the world.
When our new stock was then unfurled,
It very soon began to fly
And to this day it still stays high.
GIL came into being
In recent days we are seeing
Our chemical business steadily rise
As we diversify and specialise.
Our new products should ensure
That the rapid growth will endure.
The shares we hold, as you can tell,
Are also doing very well.
In these companies at the start
Adi played a major part!
And so today one clearly sees
That now  Godrej Properties
Which he served with fealty
Has really arrived in realty.
For Agrovet, Animal Feed,
Can be considered our core creed.
But it was not always so
And many of you may not know
The way we stumbled into feed.
For compound feed they saw no need.
Then Buhler sought out L & T
Together they had tried to see
If a market might exist
There were no takers on their list.
They chose to make a clean swipe
But were left with a prototype
A discount customer was sought
And Adi was the one who bought.
Serendipity and not a vision,
Thus, gave birth to this division.
In time the business forged ahead
Geographically we chose to spread.
And on my watch, we diversified,
New businesses were then tried.
Over the years it has grown
And now it’s listed on its own.
But it was Adi who laid the seed
That permitted us to succeed.
Is Adi’s success because of skill,
Or is it more his iron will?
For Adi was always organised
And punctuality was prized.
By dusk his desk is very neat,
His paperwork is all complete.
Not agonising is the trick,
Decisions must be very quick.
Adi can’t stand the status quo
All novel things he wants to know.
And if he thinks that it is right
He puts in all his will and might
Behind the new initiative
And with support that he can give
We quickly learn the latest ways,
Make sure the group sees better days.
But while he strove for the group
The industry was in the loop.
He’s always ready to lend a hand,
Be President or take a stand
With government on policy
And he’ll persist till industry
Gets exactly what it needs.
And once he headed CII
Ensuring that it would fly high.
And anybody that you ask
Will state this is no easy task.
Requiring traveling incessantly
And persuasive advocacy
How he survived I’ll never know
In fact, he had a cheery glow.
And now of course we all see
We have a working GST,
A cause he pursued relentlessly
Almost monomaniacally.
And for this selfless contribution
He deserves his Padma Bhushan!
All who see him are inspired.
For all he does, he’s never tired
Where did he get the energy?
It shouldn’t be any mystery,
Adi of course, was very fit.
He didn’t seem to want to sit.
There’s not a sport, he hasn’t tried
For he can even paraglide.
He really loved to water-ski,
Not on a lake but on the sea.
And on a trip to Mt. Kailash,
Although conditions were quite harsh,
The mount was circled in a day.
Most folks his age would say, “No way”.
And none of us can fail to see
That he is full of energy.
He always set a rapid pace
As he led us in the race.
Though all of us most surely know
That we have many miles to go
But still we’re sure it can be done.
Indeed, this race must be won.
And if we stay on the proper way
And never let our value’s sway,
If all of us fulfil our roles
We will surely reach our goals.
A billion Indians, we can say,
Will use our product every day
And everywhere it will be seen
That we are great, good and green.
Adi’s spell was truly great.
The years he worked were fifty-eight!
But all good things come to an end.
Let’s hope we can maintain the trend.
He’s stepping down, as you can see,
The mantle has been passed to me.
His shoes are big and hard to fill
But with your support, I think we will
Continue well in the same way
As Adi did in his own day.
He will be Chairman Emeritus
And I’m sure he’ll merit us
With his presence and advice,
Invaluable beyond any price.
Now hearing praise can be quite tough,
I’m sure by now he’s had enough.
But all the same why don’t we stand
And then give him a rousing hand?
For service to both group and nation
He deserves a standing ovation!
August 13th, 2021
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