Yesteryear models reunite with ‘Godmother’ of fashion choreography

India’s top models from the 70s and 80s reunite with Godmother of fashion choreography Jeannie Naoroji, who tells them what she always did, smile and pull the chin up

On stage are: Interior designer and noted aesthete Kavita Singh, film actor Deepak Parasher, dance director Salome Roy Kapur, jewellery designer Marianne Rao, cancer survivor Esther Daswani, actor and artist Kiran Juneja, fashion choreographer Lubna Adams, actors Pheroza Modi and Nandini Sen, business professional Nandini Kamdar (nee Naqi Jehan), luxury brand marketing professional Adrianne ‘Anna’ Bredemeyer and businessman Asgar Jehan. Off the stage at Tata Theatre, NCPA, actor Zeenat Aman quietly absorbs instructions. Almost all of them are beauty contest winners, models, actors and activists — the nation’s first harvest of ambassadors of beauty and elegance.

Jeannie flanked by Lubna Adams (left) and Dolly Thakore (rear centre)
Jeannie flanked by Lubna Adams (left) and Dolly Thakore (rear centre)

What Jeannie Naoroji sees: young models who need to be repeatedly told to, “Zip the lips, girls. Focus.” or “Models shouldn’t talk.” or “Did I tell you to speak?”

Jeannie Naoroji, 90, choreographs Kiran Juneja at a rehearsal for the awards night fashion show. Pics/Suresh KK
Jeannie Naoroji, 90, choreographs Kiran Juneja at a rehearsal for the awards night fashion show. Pics/Suresh KK

The scene is the rehearsal for Fashion Rewind, a show that finally took place last Wednesday. Jeannie was awarded the Laadli Lifetime Achievement Award for Fashion Design and Choreography. “The awards celebrate women in the field of media, arts and advertising. Past recipients have included Zohra Sehgal and Shaukat Azmi. This year, it’s Jeannie,” says Dolly Thakore, national co-ordinator for the 7th National Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for Gender Sensitivity. “We choose women who are leaders in their field and over 90 years of age,” she adds.

Zeenat Aman (in green) worked with Jeannie even before she won the Miss Asia Pacific title in 1970. Behind her to her right is Salome Roy Kapur
Zeenat Aman (in green) worked with Jeannie even before she won the Miss Asia Pacific title in 1970. Behind her to her right is Salome Roy Kapur

Jeannie, at 90 years and eight months, is a veteran choreographer of over 4000 shows stretching from the mid 1950s to early 1990s. Those were shows before there were fashion designers, or even an Indian fashion industry. “It was more like entertainment with a dash of business thrown in,” says Anna. “There would be a room or an exhibition where a cloth mill would showcase the latest wares to buyers. We would have a show with clothes made from that same fabric. It was more a tamasha and we did our own hair and make-up.”

Former model-turned-actor Deepak Parasher strikes a pose
Former model-turned-actor Deepak Parasher strikes a pose

Jeannie became the director of these shows because of her interest and experience in dance movement. Born in Karachi in undivided India, she studied ballet up to the week before her wedding in 1951. In 1954, she was involved with raising funds through shows for the National Association for the Blind and the Maharashtra State Council for Women. “We had to do a fashion show for the institution. Someone saw me dancing to music and asked me to choreograph fashion shows,” she says. “And that’s how it began.”

Fashion aboard ships
The assembled cast has been reminiscing about those shows, which were mini adventures. Paced as entertainment, they would supplement a fabric trade show. The mills used the event as live expositions of their new products. Calico and Hakoba Mills held travelling shows. There was an adventure on a cruise liner that sailed up and down the river Rhine in Germany where shows were held twice a day. Then came a memorable trip to Moscow for a textile exhibition which was supposed to last four days, but stretched to 25 days. “We almost lost Sam there; his heart belonged to Russia,” Jeannie says.

She’s talking about veteran stage director Sam Kerawalla. He’s here too, handling the lights and production for the awards like he has for 40 years. Handling music production in place of Sam is old friend and collaborator, Sarosh Bhabha, is his son Kaizad. “Can you believe it, he passed away just in February,” says Jeannie. “We worked together for more than 40 years.” Kaizad began accompanying his father when he was 10 and was present on that Rhine trip. He grew up in the company of all the women present on stage today, which explains why they maternally pat his cheeks and ask about his recent elective surgery. In the background, Sam and Salomé break into a jive. Marianne ‘Dalda’ Rao (nee D’Souza), Pheroza Modi (nee Cooper) and Esther Daswani mock glide, pace like seductive tigresses and goof about. Asgar Jehan, an old dance partner of Salome’s, takes former beauty queen and fashion writer Meher Castellino’s place as they practice entries. He walks with feminine grace as the girls hoot. Esther calls out to Jeannie, “Don’t grow old before your time, Jeannie!”

You haven’t changed
Jeannie theatrically counts to 10 sitting in the front seat of the audience. “One must count to 10 before retaliating to a rude person. You girls have become too clever for me,” she yells. “Jokers. I am not amused at all.”

That’s Jeannie, each model says. Feisty, professional and a yeller. “I’m too old! I can’t be scolded like this!” laughs Kiran. “She thinks we are still 18,” says Esther. But nobody says that to her; they do as they are told.

Each of them has walked for Jeannie though the 60s, 70s, 80s and the 90s. Salome began as long back as 1968 and worked with her till 1977. Zeenat worked with her before she won Miss Asia and after and during the time. “I learnt to walk the ramp from her, which helped me win an international contest and put me on the path to movies,” says Zeenat. She, like all the others, has taken out time from a busy schedule to rehearse for the show. “I think if anyone has contributed to your growth, it’s nice to acknowledge it,” she says, presumably speaking for everyone.

With her knowledge of dance movement, Jeannie would choreograph the shows resembling mini ballets. There would be three or four sections, showing Indian wear, casual Indian wear, casual western wear and perhaps some avant-garde designs. “We would open with an aarti or a namaskar and then move about occupying the stage, striking poses. It was not just walking up and down [like it is now],” Jeannie says. This format is being replicated for the tribute show that her former colleagues have put together. Designers Wendell Rodricks, Neeta Lulla and Rudra Kapur of Burlington have offered to design the costumes.

To all of them, Jeannie is unchanged — she still dresses in a monotone and a flourish of a trendy accessory — a scarf then, an ikat jacket now with a co-ordinated headscarf. Thick framed glasses match the black rock entwined in a silver ring in one hand, which matches a gunmetal band on a finger in the other. Her earrings are black buttons. Her decisions are made in a split-second. “No, not this music; try the other,” she barks. When asked whether she doesn’t like it, she says, “It’s not a matter of liking; it should match the clothes.” To the models she instructs, “Glide girls. Raise your chins. Remember you are showing off the clothes. Anna, please put the bag down, be a model. Make a sensational pose. Smile! Smile out of your hair, out of your body.”

“This is what we wanted,” says Salome. “To bring the old Jeannie back.”

Out of the theatre, the girls recall her as a mother hen, always wanting to know if your personal life was okay, whether they were comfortable in a strange land and eating well. She forked Lubna’s career into a new direction with a backhanded compliment. “This was in 1991 or ’92,” Lubna recalls. “About six or seven days before a show, Jeannie’s daughter called me and said, ‘My mother is ill and can’t do the show. She has said you will do it.’ I didn’t know anything about choreography and said so. Her daughter replied, ‘If mother thinks you can do it, you can do it.’ So I directed and walked the show. After that, I grew in that direction.”

The crew had grand plans of celebrating Jeannie’s life with giant picture backdrops, flowery speeches and tokens of
affection. Jeannie doesn’t want to know about all that. “It’ll get a bit boring if you keep talking about Jeannie Naoroji,” she tells Dolly, who is working on the script to fill the time between costume changes. “Why don’t you talk about the models, instead.”

To journalists writing about her she repeatedly says, “Don’t overdo it.”

To the world at large, she says, “I am in my element when I say something rude.”

Shireen Mistry awarded honorary MBE by Prince William

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai April 11, 2016 Last Updated at 18:22 IST

Shireen D Mistry, former Head of Communications and Public Affairs of the British Deputy High Commission for Western India, was awarded an honorary MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge here today.

“Her Majesty The Queen has approved the award of an honorary MBE to Shireen Dinshaw Mistry, an Indian citizen, in recognition of her contribution towards building strong relations between and the United Kingdom,” an official release said here.

Mistry worked at the British Deputy High Commission,for 23 years, between 1992 and 2015, running their Communications and Public Affairs department for Western India.

She was presented with her honorary MBE by His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge during the Royal couple’s visit here today, the release said.

British Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai, Kumar Iyer, said “Shireen has been a powerful and impressive advocate for strong and friendly relations between India and the UK. On top of that she has been the link between the media in Western India and the British Government and a popular, high profile member of the British Deputy High Commission staff.

“I am delighted that Her Majesty has graciously approved this award and that His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge has agreed to present it to Shireen. She deserves it,” Iyer added.

Mistry is a graduate of Mumbai University (St Xavier’s College, where she co-founded its popular annual festival Malhar) and of Oxford University (Somerville College).

She worked as a journalist before joining the British Deputy High Commission.

The Order of the British Empire (which has several ranks) is the order of chivalry of British democracy. Valuable service is the criterion for the award. Citizens from other countries may also receive an honorary award for services rendered to the United Kingdom and its people.

The MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) was created in 1917 by King George V to recognise the contribution of a greater range of people to the British war effort and with the post-war intention to reward services in a wider sense.

Under the MBE, women and foreigners were included in an order of chivalry for the first time, it added.

The Contribution Of The Parsi Community During The First World War (1914-1918)

The Contribution Of The Parsi Community During The First World War (1914-1918)


Marzban Jamshedji Giara

This book is the culmination of the author Marzban Giara’s single minded determination and dedication to record for posterity  the sacrifices made by Parsi doctors, soldiers, businessmen and philanthropists during the First World War. It vividly tells about the role of 700 Parsis with over 200 photographs. Little known facts about the Parsi Battalion and the War Memorial at Khareghat Colony, Bombay are well documented quoting the sources of information.


Starting with prayers by the community it goes on to narrate the part played by community leaders by appeals, speeches, logistics support, the Parsi Ambulance Division, doctors, nurses, motor drivers, storekeepers, accountants, postal service, finances, war loans, use of Parsi properties, Parsi contractors, recruitment assistance, books by Parsis relating to the War. There is a special mention of the part played by Tata Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. which resulted in Jamshedpur being named after its visionary founder.


This book is published by Sorabji Burjorji Garda College Trust, Parsi Cultural Division, Navsari. It was released on 2nd March 2016 by Dr. Dakshesh Thakar, Vice-Chancellor, Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat on the 71st annual day of S. B. Garda College. Ms. Ramia Mohan, IAS, Collector, Navsari district graced the occasion.


Mr. Dara K. Deboo, chairman of the Trust stated: “Parsis have been pioneers in education. 51 high schools and 27 colleges were started by Parsis. Sir Cowasjee Jehanghier started Sir Cowasjee Jehanghier Navsari Zarthosti Madressa in 1856 as also Elphinstone College and Institute of Science, Bombay University Convocation Hall and an Engineering College at Pune. Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute, and Grant Medical College at Bombay, Byramjee Jejeebhoy Medical Colleges at Pune and Ahmedabad and Indian Institute of Science Bangalore were all started by Parsi philanthropy. When S. B. Garda College was started in 1945 in Navsari it was the only college between Bombay and Ahmedabad.”


“We Parsis are a peaceful community but in times of war we have always been in the forefront in the defence of our country. Parsis have been Chiefs of the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Border Security Force. In no other country in the world would you find such responsible posts are entrusted to a member of a microscopic minority community. Even in the field of atomic energy we have produced Dr. Homi Bhabha after whom Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is named.”


Price: Rs.300/- postage extra 149 pages, illustrated, hard bound, printed on art paper.


Available from Mr. Dara Deboo at Navsari e-mail:


A Tribute to the Parsi Community of Pakistan

A Tribute to the Parsi Community of Pakistan, both my grand fathers built far North west frontier province
My own grandfather Hormusji Sorabji Shroff built Oil storage tanks and my Pious Maternal grand father Jamsetji nusserwanji Mehta Built Ice factories in Karachi

“Losing a community like the Parsis is definitely a huge blow to a tolerant Pakistan, its cultural diversity and economic well-being as Parsis have contributed immensely to the progress of this country,”

Click here to see the video

Courtesy : Mehernosh Shroff

Jamsetji Tata

Jamsetji Tata: Glancing at the journey of the pioneer of Indian Industry

By NewsGram News Desk –

March 12, 2016


Photo: @TataCompanies

By Gauri Kumari

The 21st century’s Indian government major concern is to rejuvenate the India’s manufacturing base and the job it creates. To achieve this objective the present government has initiated the ‘Make In India’ program. A special focus has been given to this in the recent 2016-17 budget  by our finance minister Arun Jaitley. The 19th century mill owner and industrialist Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata would have shared the same concern.

India’s first industrial manufacturing boom in the latter half of the 19th century gave birth to the father of Indian industry Jamsetji Nassurwanji Tata– The Founder of the Tata Group. Jamsetji’s vision now stands in front of us in the form of ‘The Tata Group of Companies’, India’s one the largest conglomerate contributing approximately 5% to India’s GDP alone.



Born as Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata to Nusserwanji and Jeevan Bai Tata on 3rd march 1839 in Navsari , a town in south Gujarat  in a family of Parsi Zoroastrian priests. His father Nusserwanji  was first to try his hand in business. Nussrewanji moved to Mumbai then known as Bombay and began his career by setting up an export trading firm. Jamsetji  took admission at the Elphinestone College in Bombay at the age of 14. Being an exceptional student during college years , the principal decided to refund his fees once he completed the degree. He graduated from there as a green scholar in 1858 which is nowadays equivalent to  a graduate degree. Since, child marriage was prominent in those days the future business tycoon got married at the tender age of 16 to the 10 year old Hirabai Daboo.



He began as an opium trader. Soon after graduating from college, he joined his father’s trading firm. Unlike cast Hindus Parsis didn’t see traveling abroad a sin and this gave them considerable advantages. Jamsetji was put to work in China and his immediate task was to get opium and cogon to Hong Kong and Shanghai and to send back tea, camphor and gold. He stayed in Hong Kong for four years to accomplish his fathers dream of setting up a ‘Tata & company office’ there. Soon after achieving this milestone he moved to London, Europe to manage the cotton export business. There he received a crash course in world economics. To expand his father’s export business was not the sole motive behind his stay in London, he was also there to set up an Indian Bank. However, this venture of Tatas proved to be a total failure with the financial crisis hitting the Indian markets and the time being not favorable for the banking sector. A large sum of loss was faced by the Tata companies in India and all over Asia due to this collapse.



Jamsetji worked under his father’s shadow until the age of 29. In 1868 with the confidence , knowledge and experience that he gathered  by working under his father for 9 years he started off with his own trading company with a capital of worth Rs 21,000. Howsoever, Tata was left with many worthless bills of credit due to which he had to liquidate his company.  Jamsetji made his move into textile industry by buying a bankrupt oil mill in ‘Chinchpokli’ in 1869 converting it to a cotton mill and later renaming it as ‘Alexandra Mill’. However, he sold it two years later for profit to a local merchant. He established another cotton mill in 1874 in Nagpur naming it ‘Empress Mill’ which brought huge profits to him. He opened several other mills, three years later. To better his mills he made frequent trips to England to learn fine spinning technology. He also traveled to Egypt to master cultivation and grow higher quality cotton. These cotton mills brought him huge revenues, but were later sold by him for huge sum of money.



Jamsetji was a fan of the great exhibitions of the 19th century and was very obsessed with innovation and technology. His home had electric piano, a cinematograph and other most advanced technological toys of the 19th century. Moreover, his horse carriage was the first in India to have rubber tires. It was Jamsetji who introduced cold storage to Bombay, which can be seen in the form of cold storage room in Taj hotel’s old building. He actually tried it to ship business mangoes to Britain in cold storage.

His contemporaries relied on cheap labor and family to run business. Unlike them Jamsetji realized that modern industries needed professional managers and a satisfied and willing workforce. He was the first of his kind who tried to initialize the idea of human capital to work with technology. The first millionaire of India to introduce pension funds for his employees. He as well introduced other policies as well, which were never heard during those times, namely medical facilities for sick and women with children, accident compensations and on job trainings. This was not sentimental generosity he showed but the benefits provided by his company gave a reason to the skilled workers to stay.

His vision was to establish

  • A steel and iron plant
  • A learning institution
  • A world class hotel
  • A hydroelectric plant

To achieve these visions of his little could stop him. He traveled to America and got in touch with the American engineers to build his steel plant amidst the Indian jungle. He traveled to America and Europe to educate himself on the production of steel out of iron. Moreover, in order to realize his dream he wanted to grasp each and every piece of information about the technological advancement that had taken place all over the world over the years and use it for his benefit.

Unfortunately, he could realize only one of his dream till the time he was alive i.e. the establishment of world class hotel “The Taj Hotel”- the first to have electricity and a lift. The other three visions of his were turned to reality by his successors but he was not alive to see them , the foundations  of which were laid by him.

In his final years, in a series of letters he wrote to his son Dorab, he expressed his idea of building a township around his iron and steel plant. He wrote “be sure to lay wide streets planted with shady trees, every other of a quick growing variety. Be sure that there is plenty of space for lawns and gardens. Reserve large areas for football, hockey and parks. Earmark areas for Hindu Temples, Mohammedan Mosques and Christian Churches”. This vision of township would eventually become Jamshedpur.



Jamsetji Tata passed away on 19 may 1904. After his death the Tata group was succeeded by his two sons Dorabjee Tata and Ratanji Tata.

On his demise, Dr Zakir Hussain ,the Former President of India said “while many others worked on loosening the chains of slavery and hastening the march towards the dawn of freedom, Tata dreamed of and worked for life as it was to be fashioned after liberation. Most of the others worked for freedom from a bad life of servitude; Tata worked for freedom for fashioning a better life for economic independence.”

His dreams were realized to reality. Tata’s iron and steel plant was set up in Sakchi village, Jharkhand. The village grew into a town and now a metropolis known as Jamshedpur. Moreover the Railway Station there was named Tatanagar. It is Asia’s first and India’s largest and world’s fifth largest steel company. The Tata power company is India’s largest private electricity generating company.

“Make the world England” was a popular slogan at the height of the British empire, but today the Tata’s have made the world more Indian.

The author is a student of university of Hyderabad Twitter:@gauri89715

Source :

Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji
Born: September 4, 1825
Died: June 30, 1917


Achievements: First Indian to become a professor of the Elphinston college; instrumental in the establishment of the Indian National Congress; was President of the Indian National Congress thrice; the Congress’ demand for swaraj (self-rule) was first expressed publicly by him in his presidential address in 1906


Dadabhai Naoroji is fondly called as the “Grand Old Man of India”. He is viewed as the architect who laid the foundation of the Indian freedom struggle.


Dadabhai Naoroji was born in a poor Parsi family in Bombay on September 4, 1825. His father, Naoroji Palanji Dordi, died when Dadabhai Naoroji was only four years old. He was raised by her mother Maneckbai who despite being illiterate herself ensured that Dadabhai Naoroji got best English education possible. As a student Dada Bhai Naoroji was very good in Mathematics and English. He studied at Elphinstone Institution, Bombay and on completion of his education he was appointed the Head Native Assistant Master at the Elphinstone Institution. Dadabhai Naoroji became a professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Elphinstone Institution at the age of 27. He was the first Indian to become a professor of the college.


Dadabhai Naoroji entered the political fray in 1852. He strongly opposed the renewal of lease to the East India Company in 1853. He sent petitions to the English government in this regard. But the British government ignored his pleas and renewed the lease. Dadabhai Naoroji felt that the British misrule of India was because of ignorance of the Indian people. He set up the Gyan Prasarak Mandali (Society for Promotion of Knowledge) for the education of adult menfolk. He wrote several petitions to Governors and Viceroys regarding India’s problems. Ultimately, he felt that the British people and the British Parliament must be made aware of India’s plight. In 1855, at the age of 30 he sailed for England.


In England, Dadabhai Naoroji joined several learned societies, delivered many speeches and wrote articles on the plight of India. He founded the East Indian Association on December 1st, 1866. The association was comprised of high-ranking officers from India and people who had access to Members of the British Parliament. Dadabhai Naoroji was elected to the British Parliament in 1892 from Central Finsbury as the Liberal party candidate. He got a resolution passed in British Parliament for holding preliminary examinations for the I.C.S. in India and England simultaneously. He also got the Wiley Commission, the royal commission on India expenditure, to acknowledge the need for even distribution of administrative and military expenditure between India and England.


Dadabhai Naoroji was instrumental in the establishment of the Indian National Congress founded by A.O. Hume in 1885. Thrice he was elected to the post of the President of the Indian National Congress, in 1886, 1893 and in 1906. During his third term, he prevented a split between moderates and extremists in the party. The Congress’ demand for swaraj (self-rule) was first expressed publicly by him in his presidential address in 1906. Dadabhai Naoroji believed in non-violent and constitutional methods of protest. He died at the age of 92 on June 30, 1917.



Read more at…/dadabhai-naoroji.html…

 Courtesy : Tusna Park

Homi Bhabha in India’s Role In The Discovery of Gravitational Waves

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(L-R) Albert Einstein, Hideki Yukawa, John Wheeler (the one who coined the word ‘black hole’) and Homi Bhabha at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton (Image Credit: Princeton University)

The three stages of black hole collision as observed in supercomputer simulation of Einstein Equations. C V Vishveshwara from the Raman Research Institute, along with S. Chandrasekhar (Nobel Prize, 1983) did the historic work in understanding of the “ringdown” stage after collision of black holes (Simulation and Image Credit: K. Jani, M. Clark, M. Kinsey, Center For Relativistic Astrophysics , Georgia Institute of Technology)

On the morning of 11 February, when the executive director of the gravitational wave experiment LIGO, David Rietze, announced the greatest scientific discovery of the century — the first detection of gravitational waves — at the National Press Club in Washington DC, there was one Indian at the front row, who carried with him the legacy of Indian science. Bala R Iyer, a senior professor from Bangalore and chair of the Indian Initiative in Gravitational-Wave Observation (IndIGO), has spent decades of his research in modelling the gravitational waves from a pair of black holes, similar to the one we detected on 14 September, 2015. The observed gravitational waves from black hole collision is such a landmark feat that future historians will mark this as a transition much like BC to AD in mankind’s understanding of the universe. And when a future Ramachandra Guha will discuss the role India played in this discovery, the first scientist’s name to emerge in the list should not surprise any Indian.

Bhabha was rather like Rancho of 3 Idiots… he was set to pursue metallurgy and lead. Instead, like a classic rebel, he went on to study cosmic rays…
Exactly 77 years ago before this historical announcement, an emerging young Indian physicist at Cambridge, who had already marked his place in the international arena of quantum physics, decided to come back to his hometown, Bombay. At a time when all other important Indians were occupied with freedom struggle, this man came toSwadesh with an aspiration of starting a fundamental physics research centre. Modern India owes big thanks to this man, Homi Jehangir Bhabha, for making that bold career move, because of which India has been part of every historical scientific feat in the last 50 years — from the first independent test of the nuclear bomb, to the first success on Mars, and now with the future of astrophysics relying very crucially in the hands of LIGO India project.

Bhabha was rather like Rancho of 3 Idiots. Belonging to an influential Parsi family closely related to the Tatas, he was set to pursue metallurgy and lead the Tata Steel Mills at Jamshedpur. Instead, like a classic rebel, he went on to study cosmic rays at the iconic Cavendish Laboratory in the University of Cambridge and computed the interaction between electron and its antimatter (positron), which in his honour is named as the ‘Bhabha Scattering’. At Cambridge, Bhabha interacted with emerging legends of physics like Niels Bohr, Paul Dirac and Enrico Fermi. It is said he was well aware of the Manhattan Nuclear Bomb project by noticing a sudden absence in the scientific publications of his fellow physics buddies. When Bhabha returned to India in 1939, he soon became a close ally of emerging Congress Party leader, Jawaharlal Nehru. For Nehru, Bhabha proved to be his intellectual soul mate. Unlike any other leader or scientist of the time, Bhabha had the vision and technical skill to develop an ambitious nuclear program that was required to preserve the sovereignty of independent India. And with Nehru at the helm of affairs post-independence, Bhabha had a free hand to chart the path for modern India’s role in science and technology.

Over the last 70 years, TIFR, where Bhabha served as the founding director, has nurtured world class researchers in the field of Einsteinian relativity.
One of the first research centres that Bhabha set up was the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in 1945. To persuade the Sir Dorabji Jamsetji Tata Trust to fund this institute, Bhabha wrote an aggressive letter, in which castigated the mediocre applied research institutes that were wasting the scientific talent in the country. Instead he proposed a dedicated institute where research in physics and fundamental sciences could lead a national movement of science and technology towards national security and industrial applications. In a mark of an ingenious visionary, he wrote in the letter:

“It is neither possible nor desirable to separate nuclear physics from cosmic rays since the two are closely connected theoretically.”

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Homi Jehangir Bhabha, father of the Indian Nuclear Programme (Image Credit: Homi Bhabha Fellowship)

Over the last 70 years, TIFR, where Bhabha served as the founding director, has nurtured world class researchers in the field of Einsteinian relativity. In 2007, TIFR opened a new campus in Bangalore — the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences — where the chair of IndIGO consortium, Bala Iyer is leading the effort for the LIGO-India project. The legendary Indian cosmologist Jayant Narlikar (Padma Vibhushan) started his career at TIFR and later formed the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune in 1988. The team at IUCAA, led by one of the leaders in space-based gravitational-wave experiments, Sanjeev Dhurandhar, will lead the gravitational-wave data-analysis effort for the proposed LIGO-India project. LIGO-India, the third of the LIGO detectors (currently one is in Louisiana and the other in Washington, USA), is a mega science project in collaboration with the United States to build and operate a gravitational-wave detector on India soil, like the one that detected the first gravitational waves.

LIGO-India, the third of the LIGO detectors, is a mega science project in collaboration with the United States to build and operate a gravitational-wave detector on India soil, like the one that detected the first gravitational waves.
It is believed that Bhabha convinced Nehru and Ambedkar to add “scientific temper” as one of the fundamental duties [in the Constitution].
As the director also of the Atomic Energy Commission of India, Bhabha formed the Atomic Research Centre (named in his honour as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre; BARC) for peaceful, use of nuclear technology. BARC channelized the formation of the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT) at Indore in 1984. The advance lasers and quantum optics that are crucial to maintain sensitivity of the LIGO-India experiment will be lead by scientists at RRCAT. In 1986, the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR) in Gandhinagar was set up by the governing council of BARC. The scientists at IPR will lead the ambitious effort of building 16sq km of vacuum chambers that will form the L-shaped interferometer path for the LIGO-India experiment.

When Bhabha led the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Government of India, he initiated plans for ambitious space programme in 1962, which later evolved as the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the formation of Department of Space. These organizations, along with Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science & Technology, have remained central funding agencies for astrophysics and fundamental science research in India. Bhabha’s legacy in 21st century India is well captured in the LIGO detection paper, “Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger”, which has over 30 Indian researchers. The LIGO scientific collaboration gratefully acknowledges the role of these Indian funding agencies, which Bhabha charted within just 25 years of his active role in India. This detection paper will be cited by every scientific publication in the field of astrophysics and Einstein’s Relativity for at least the next 50 years.

If we want to Make in India, and Discover in India, then without any dilution, we should work towards promoting a “scientific temper” in India.
Among the most critical contributions of Bhabha to modern India and the new era of gravitational-wave science in our country is the inclusion of the term “scientific temper” in our Constitution. India is only the country that places constitutional values in scientific logic and rationality. It is believed that Bhabha convinced Nehru and Ambedkar to add “scientific temper” as one of the fundamental duties.

At time when we Indians are participating in the greatest scientific feats by mankind, we are also being fooled by pseudo- and anti-science practices that are rampant in every corner of this nation. It is a sad state when miracle-making godmen, astrologers, vastu-shastra, and hoax medical products get more income revenue from our citizens than the total science budget of institutes like IUCAA. The acknowledgement to the Indian scientist by Prime Minister Modi on the day of the announcement of the gravitational-wave detection thus and today a historic announcement for approval of LIGO-India project set the right tone on the priorities of our scientific nation in the making. And if we want to Make in India, and Discover in India, then without any dilution, we should work towards promoting a “scientific temper” in India. It is only then we carry forward Homi Bhabha’s legacy for India in the science of tomorrow.

Where there is a Will, there is a Way

Where there is a Will, there is a Way

The Great Dasturji Nadirshah Pestonji Unvalla – hats off ..I salute him !

Dasturji Nadirshah Pestonji Unvalla
A memorable episode in Nadirshah’s life as Panthaki of the Bangalore Anjuman involved stopping of an Indian Airlines Plane.


In October 1978, at the time of the Emergency (declared by Indira Gandhi) a group of Parsees from Navroz Bagh, Bombay came on a visit to Karnataka. They arrived by train in a reserved bogie and visited the Agiary at Bangalore before proceeding to Mysore and Ooty in several buses. They were on a sightseeing trip. Unfortunately one of the group, a Mrs. Dalal, expired at Ooty having suffered a heart attack.


The tour conductors obtained the death certificate and a necessary letter for the dean of the St. John’s Medical College & Hospital where a post mortem & embalming was to be undertaken. The body had to be sent for funeral rites to Bombay by air. In those days only one Indian Airlines flight a day operated on the Bangalore-Bombay sector. It arrived from Madras, halted briefly at Bangalore and proceeded onwards to Bombay. The departure time from the Bangalore HAL Airport was 12.30 p.m.


The conductor of the tour and four or five others brought the body in a van to Bangalore at 5.00 a.m. on Sunday morning and knocked at the Agiary gate. Nadirshah immediately opened the gate and inquired about the incident. He was told that the body had to be sent by air to Bombay urgently and requested him to keep the body in the Agiary compound as the plane was to depart only at 12.30 p.m. He advised them that a dead body cannot be brought into the Agiary compound and suggested they take it to the Tower of Silence and keep it there. Besides, the body had to be embalmed so the visitors showed him the letter they had brought addressed to the Dean of St. John’s Hospital. This hospital was rather far from the Agiary. So Nadirshah took them to St. Martha’s Hospital, where they were refused entry. Next they were taken to Victoria Hospital where the doctor was not available finally they took the body to St. John’s. (This episode is being narrated in detail to show how difficult it is to help stranded people and there were many, many over the years).
The Dean of the hospital sent them to the department where embalming was done. To their misfortunate, this being a Sunday, and no other bodies needing attention, the surgeon on duty had left the hospital. The dean was keen to help so he gave a quick note requesting the surgeon to come to the hospital urgently. They were given the address of the surgeon who was staying at the other end of Bangalore in Fraser Town.


With great speed Nadirshah rushed the relatives from Koramangala to Fraser Town, found the surgeon, gave him the dean’s note and requested him to go to the hospital by auto-rickshaw. They were then asked to immediately procure a coffin, one bag of sawdust and 50 kilograms of ice. They collected these and made haste to the hospital.


Nadirshah took Mr Savak Antia with him because his own small car could not reach quickly enough. Around 11.00 a.m. they reached the hospital and Nadirshah rushed to the department where the embalming was in progress. Mr Antia being nervous refused to enter the room. Nadirshah ventured forth in all earnestness but what a ghastly scene he witnessed! God forbid it should ever happen to a Parsi! He fervently prayed for the soul of the departed. The doctor while carrying on his work told Nadirshah that the coffin he had bought was rather small. Nadirshah asked if it was possible to fetch another given they were fighting against time. The hospital staff managed to fit the body into the coffin after all.


A strict set of rules needs adhering to, the coffin has to be hermitically sealed. Nadirshah and the relatives had taken a long piece of silk cloth, some nails and a hammer to nail down the coffin lid. Then putting the coffin into the van they hastened to the Airport. By now it was 11.30 a.m. the van followed the car up to Mahatma Gandhi Road then Nadirshah told the van driver to go to the airport by asking directions along the way. Nadirshah and Mr Antia sped onward in the Ambassador car to reach the airport earlier and started making arrangements. All along Mr Antia was most disheartening saying that the flight would surely be missed.


Before rushing to the hospital with the coffin Nadirshah had asked Mr Shereyar Vakil (who had been invited to his home for lunch that day) to immediately head to the airport and book five tickets for the relatives (at that time the airfare to Bombay was Rs.500/-).


As soon as Nadirshah reached the airport he heard the sound of the aircraft starting. Simultaneously Mr Vakil met him and informed them that he had just given away the tickets as they had all reached very late and the plane was departing.


Dear friends, here Nadirshah’s ingenuity, influence and resourcefulness were all on trial. In those days there were no strict security regulations at airports as there are today. Nadirshah requested the aerodrome officer to stop the plane, he refused to interfere saying that the plane was about to move and was now entirely under the command of the pilot. Nadirshah jumped over the cordon and frantically signaled the pilot to stop the engine. He too refused and started moving the aircraft. Nadirshah kneeled in front of the plane and shouted and pleaded that the plane be stopped. After much persuasion the pilot stopped the aircraft from moving but did not shut off the engine. He told the aerodrome officer to load the body hurriedly.


After stopping the plane Nadirshah came out but the van had not yet arrived. They had to wait for some time before the van arrived. The coffin was immediately removed, weighed and loaded on to the plane. There was no time even to collect the weighment voucher. Again Nadirshah had to plead with the pilot to allow at least three of the relatives to travel along with the body. The pilot finally gave in to the request, charging the fare but saying there were no seats available and the passengers would have to stand in the aircraft all the way to Bombay!


Nadirshah and Mr Antia returned home at about 2.00 p.m. Nadirshah took a full bath with ‘Taro’ and water as he had entered the room of the hospital where the embalming was in progress. He then telephoned Mr Darvish who was in charge of the Doongarwadi at Bombay and told him to take charge of the body as it arrived at Bombay Airport.


Finally the body was consigned to the Tower of Silence in Bombay at 5.30 p.m. after Sachkar and Gehsarna in the presence of the relatives of the deceased.
Mr Antia who was with Air India kept harping that by delaying the plane for nearly an hour (and that too, at a time when a National Emergency had been declared) the staff of the Bangalore Airport and the Pilot would lose their jobs. Next day Nadirshah wrote a polite letter to the Chairman & Managing Director of Indian Airlines explaining and apologizing for the delay caused by the above incident. Within a week he got a reply from the Indian Airlines Manager that – “It is our duty to help the people” Nadirshah hopes to remind our readers of the saying “Where there is a will there is a way”.


Courtesy :

Behram P. Dhabhar