True tales of women breaking barriers to forbidden places, and bettering the lives of others, are inspiring. Mithan Jamshed Lam is one of these legendary women. Recently I chatted about this illustrious lady (who passed away in 1981) with another woman who is doing important civil rights work in contemporary India, the Mumbai solicitor Parinaz Madan. In an interesting twist, Parinaz is married to Dinyar Patel, a professor and author of Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism.
I was fortunate enough to meet Parinaz and Dinyar in real life last January at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club in Mumbai. We dined on a delicious biryani and many other dishes as we discussed the history of the city and the freedom movement. They are both Parsis and have been kind enough to also answer my questions about the minutiae of the community’s cultural life. Their assistance was key in creating realistic social situations in my forthcoming novel, The Bombay Prince.
Last year, Parinaz and Dinyar wrote an article for BBC News about Bombay’s first woman barrister, Mithan Ardeshir Tata, known after her marriage as Mithan Jamshed Lam. In 1924, Mithan became the first woman advocate permitted to argue cases at Bombay’s High Court. Mithan’s education, family background, and relentless struggle for women’s rights were influential in the development of my series protagonist, Perveen Mistry.
It was much harder for me to find scholarly material about Mithan than Cornelia Sorabji. In 2016, I bought a reprint of her autobiography, Autumn Leaves, at the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute, a center for Parsi scholarship. The autobiography is dominated by the stories of Mithan’s world travels. I wanted to know specifics about her life in India, so I’ve put some questions to Parinaz about her.
Were Mithan’s parents encouraging of her career choice as a lawyer? Were there any other events in her youth that pushed her toward the field?
Mithan’s autobiography lends the impression that her family had very progressive leanings.
She describes her father Ardeshir as a man of “liberal views” who wholeheartedly backed her academic pursuits. In fact, her father spurred his studious wife Herabai to complete her B.A. degree, by employing a number of tutors for her.
Mithan also seems to have shared a very close and almost sororal bond with her mother, which is not surprising, considering that they were separated by only seventeen years in age!
As a teenager, Mithan was clearly inspired by her mother’s social activism and commitment to securing equal voting rights for women and that likely set the stage for her active participation in the female suffragist movement subsequently. She was all of 21 when she was chosen, alongside her mother, to deliver evidence on the necessity of female suffrage in India to the British Parliament.
Mithan had a stellar academic track record even before studying law: she obtained her B.A. from Elphinstone College, Bombay and was the first woman to be awarded the Cobden Club Medal for securing the highest marks in Economics. She then went on to pursue an M.Sc. degree from the London School of Economics, while her mother was studying for a Social Service course at the same university.
Since Mithan’s childhood and early life were steeped in political and social activism, law may have seemed to be the most natural career choice for her. She probably recognised the potential of a legal career to create lasting and meaningful reform in areas that she deeply cared about, such as women and children rights, and was ably supported by her parents along the way.
Mithan, standing by her mother, Herabai, in 1919
Cornelia Sorabji is arguably the most renowned female lawyer from colonial India. Her career was divided between private practice in a firm with her brother in Allahabad, and many more years working throughout India as a legal investigator for the Indian Civil Service. She was almost 31 years older than Mithan, but was called to the Bar in Britain (i.e. admitted to practice in courts) after Mithan. Could you explain why that happened?
Yes, Cornelia was the first woman to study law at Oxford in 1889 (nearly a decade before Mithan was even born). However, she could not be called to the Bar after finishing her law exams because women were prohibited from practicing law in Britain, until the passage of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, 1919.
This Act which opened the doors for women to be admitted to the Bar in the United Kingdom was passed only in 1919. Mithan who was fortuitously in London at the time was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1920, followed by Cornelia who returned from India to Britain two years later. Mithan became the first woman to be called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in January 1923 when she was 24. Cornelia was actually called to the Bar a few months later than Mithan in June, when she was 55.
Providentially, the Indian government also abolished restrictions on women to practice law in 1923: the same year that Mithan set sail to India after finishing her studies in London. This enabled her to kickstart her legal career as the first female lawyer in the Bombay High Court in 1924. I think she sums all this up quite aptly in her autobiography: “I must have been born under a lucky star, for I always found myself in the right place at the right time.”
What was Mithan’s life like when she started working as a barrister? Did you uncover any stories of success and struggles against discrimination?
Ironically, Mithan bagged her first legal case from a client who wanted to “inflict upon the opponent the humiliation of being defeated by a woman.” She recalls feeling like “a new animal at the zoo” while appearing in court, arousing the curiosity of men who peeped through its doorways to catch a glimpse of this unique species. Understandably, this made her feel extremely “self-conscious”. Such acts of discrimination notwithstanding, newspaper records reveal that Mithan practiced in court for about 15 years from her enrolment as a lawyer in 1924 in India.
Mithan was extremely outspoken on women’s rights. Tell us about some of her work in that area, and the legislation she proposed.
Apart from the female suffrage activities that Mithan is renowned for, she was a staunch advocate for amending marriage, divorce, inheritance and guardianship laws in India to make them fairer to women, often drawing upon international legislation. As a Zoroastrian herself, her legal expertise was sought in reforming the laws for marriage and divorce in the Parsi community.
One of the women’s organisations that she was most prominently associated with was the All-India Women’s Conference. As its President, she propounded a shift of focus from “sewing and cutting classes” for women to their more active participation in industries and emphasised on the need for family planning. She also encouraged women to take a more active role in civic engagement and public works in the country. After the partition of India in 1947, Mithan was tasked with being the Chairperson of a committee constituted for resettling refugee women and children in Bombay.
But her activism was not restricted to only women’s issues. She also spearheaded hunger eradication programs, anti-child labour advocacy and slum improvement projects in India. In 1928, she joined protests with the Bombay Youths League about a proposed school fee hike for secondary education in India. The Bombay Chronicle noted “The ridiculous plea that higher education should be further taxed to find funds for primary education is aptly described by Miss Tata as the policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul.” These protests may have had a hand in the government backing down on the fee hike attempt for colleges and schools eventually.
Mithan married in 1933, probably at age 35. Do you know anything about her husband Jamshed Lam’s feelings about her continued activism and legal activities?
I will let Mithan’s autobiography do the talking for this question. She describes Jamshed, a lawyer himself, as “a wonderful and loving husband” who “was proud of my achievements and helped to advance me in every way….I have been greatly lucky in my menfolk–a liberal father of very advanced views, a loving and generous husband, and a fine son of whom any parent would be very proud.”
How do you describe Mithan’s legacy for women in India?
Mithan left behind an invaluable legacy for women in the legal profession and beyond. Demolishing patriarchal stereotypes of what a woman can and cannot achieve, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields, was the cornerstone of her career.
While Mithan was a woman of many firsts, she did not work in silos but mentored scores of other women. Prominent among them was Violet Alva who was a law student at Government Law College, Bombay when Mithan was a professor there. Violet subsequently went on to become the Deputy Home Minister of India and the first female Deputy Chair of the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament). Examining the life stories of trailblazing women like Mithan makes us realise that a lot of rights that we, as Indian women, enjoy today, such as the right to vote or work, were achieved on the back of the unwavering efforts of such pioneers.
As a solicitor in Bombay, you work hard as legal advisor at a prominent company, yet you make time for pro bono work. Tell us about the pro bono organization you work with.
In addition to the corporate law work I do, I am also a member of iProbono. It is a global organization which connects lawyers with non-profits and social enterprises in need of pro bono legal assistance. Over the past few years of my association with iProbono, my work has involved advising schools, innovations labs, mental health professionals and organisations working for the underprivileged on a number of education, child rights, disabilities and medical laws in India.
Law is a very potent instrument for social change and I believe that in a developing country like India, especially, there is tremendous scope for lawyers to create systems and establish precedents from the ground up.
You’ve said that India has some of the strongest child abuse laws in the world, but these laws aren’t often exercised properly. Can you give an example of how this could be changed?
In 2019, the Economist Intelligence Unit published a report evaluating the response of sixty countries, across the development spectrum, to the scourge of child abuse. Interestingly, India ranked the highest amongst all the surveyed countries in terms of the strength of its legal framework for protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. However, awareness of these laws remains low and their implementation remains challenging, given the high rates of child abuse in the country.
Now, child abuse is a very pervasive and complex problem and its eradication needs resolute engagement from various stakeholders, both government and private. However, one of the ways in which organisations interacting with children (like schools, children’s shelters etc.) can mitigate child abuse is by developing effective child protection policies, as an article I’ve recently written demonstrates. Such policies typically contain a blend of preventive and remedial child protection measures. In the absence of such policies, organisations often deal with child abuse incidents arbitrarily and without regard to the law, causing grave prejudice to the interests of children under their care. Through iProbono, we assist various civil society organisations in drafting and implementing child protection policies, to foster a safe and child-friendly environment.
The pandemic has many people working from home. Do you see this is an opportune time for more persons with disabilities (PWDs) to have a chance to enter the Indian workforce? What are the factors that make it difficult for PWDs to work? Is there a national law in existence for enabling disability inclusion in the workplace?
The employment rates of PWDs in the Indian corporate sector are abysmally low barring, of course, a few outliers. A study published by the Business Standard in 2019 noted that PWDs constitute less than 0.5 per cent of employees in India’s top companies. In India, the Rights of PWDs Act, 2016 is a national-level legislation that requires companies to develop equal opportunity policies and create an accessible environment for their employees, but its implementation remains patchy.
Historically, taboos associated with disabilities and low literacy levels have kept a lot of PWDs out of the workforce. Social isolation and a lack of employment opportunities, posed by the Covid-19 crisis, have hit PWDs further.
But, some disability rights activists see a silver lining to this crisis: the pandemic has impelled companies to adopt remote working policies and technologies which certain groups of PWDs have long demanded as reasonable accommodations. Needless to say, it is imperative that such technologies are designed to be accessible to PWDs, to facilitate their meaningful participation in work. In a 2020 piece I wrote for Business Standard, I’ve argued that there is a strong legal, business and moral case for disability inclusion in the Indian corporate sector, particularly in the light of the pandemic. I think the ILO’s Director-General summarizes the essence of this fittingly: “A disability-inclusive response means a better response for us all.”
By Vineet Malik | London, England | February 06, 2021
Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on July 07, 2014.
Nariman’s retirement is due in August this year.
He is no ordinary Judge.
Justice Markandey Katju (Ret’d), on his blog revealed that, Nariman was trained as a learned Parsi priest at a tender age of 12.
He was taught at the Harvard Law School by the stalwarts; Professors Laurence Tribe and Roberto Unger. He practiced Maritime Law in New York at Haight Gardner Poor and Havens for a year.
In November, 2016 Nariman while launching his book : The Inner Fire, left his audience spellbound when he spoke at length on drawing a parallel between various faiths and the importance of karma in life.
Lawyers swear by Nariman’s integrity and impeccable knowledge of international laws and bona-fide litigants are often seen walking out crying from his court.
Wrongdoer’s shiver for getting their pleadings converted to perjury as Nariman’s memory is compared with an elephant and resolve to dispense justice is always at fore.
Justice Madan Lokur, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India says, “Having known Rohinton from our days in the Law Faculty of Delhi University, I can confidently say, that he is a greater and more versatile genius.”
Nariman is often described as a “Rockstar Judge” after he struck down ‘draconian’ Section 66A of the Information Technology Act from the Constitution through his 123 page judgment.
The landmark judgement ruled vide Shreya Singhal Vs Union of India stated, “No one can tamper with the Constitution, Governments may come and Governments may go but Section 66A goes on forever.”
The ruling reflects intolerance of people who misused the law to gag the Constitutional provisions of right to freedom of speech and expression in India.
His another judgment on dissent in the matter of Kantaru Rajeevaru Vs Indian Young Lawyers Association resurrected the Constitutional values where-in it stated, “Women worshippers were thwarted despite a judgment ruled by the Supreme Court upholding their fundamental right to equality and worship at the Sabarimala temple.”
“It was up to the Government, it’s ministers and it’s officials to firm up and implement the judgment. The dissent, be it the Prime Minister or a Chief Minister, who failed to follow the judgment violated the rule of law.”
Nariman scrapped the 19th century law criminalising homosexuality vide Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. Vs Union of Indiawhich stated, “The whole object of fundamental rights is to give court power to strike down laws which a majoritarian governments, swung by votes, will not repeal. We don’t wait for majoritarian governments to repeal laws.”
One of the most recent controversial order passed by Nariman pertains to issuance of notice against a lower court Judge alleging contempt of the top court and contravention of statutory articles of the Constitution vide Manubhai Hargovandas Patel Vs Learned A.P Khanorkar, Metropolitan Magistrate, 68th Court, Mumbai, Maharashtra.
“Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman has grown in stature every time he has delivered a judgement, fortifying the necessity of what Caroline Kennedy has mentioned – “the bedrock of democracy is the true rule of law which means having an independent judiciary who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing.
Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman has established that wisdom is not a product of schooling but lifelong attempt to acquire it.
Indian judiciary is very fortunate that it has in Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman a judge who believes and practices that justice must be done, even though the heavens may have to fall, that real peace does not mean the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.
India survives as a democracy because Judges such as Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and the likes of him have been dispensing real justice to one and all. His stint as a Judge of the highest Court of our land will be remembered for a very long time to come.”
Dr Priyadarsini Mitra has rightly said: Good human beings spread good fragrance in their every action which always creates a positive vibration. And this vibration easily can be realized by another good person. Well known Mathemagician cum Memory Development and Vedic Maths Trainer Minoo Jokhi firmly believes in this statement.
Minoo was a very weak student in his school days. He was so weak in his school days that he could not make a simple multiplication of single digits or could add and subtract single digits correctly. He had practically all hope in life till his 10th grade. He was a COMPLETE FAILURE in Maths. He was really unhappy in life.
Minoo’s wonderful mother Kety single handedly brought up Minoo and her younger son Hoshang extremely well with full dedication and sincerity. She is today happy her sons are good humans first; then they are successful too. Minoo beleives that all your success is a failure if you are not good humans. The world today is full of deceit, falsehood, wrong actions, negativity where positive people are often wronged. But honesty, sincerity, good actions will always WIN; even if they have to bear lots of troubles. Minoo did not give up and worked hard in Maths and with Will Power and Hard Work improved. And improved phenomenally.
From being a Math Failure to being a HUMAN CALCULATOR; Minoo has come a long way in life. Today Minoo remembers Tables up to one Crore, can also multiply huge figures mentally at amazing speeds, can remember over 2000 Birthdates and Telephone numbers, can tell you the Day of any Date from 1st January 1600 to date . For e.g. 18th July 1981 was a Saturday. He also remembers Cube Roots up to 1000000000. He also can do Summations and Factorials with ease. He knows Square Roots up to 10,00,000.
Minoo Jokhi is the second person after General Sam Maneckshaw to have been conferred the prestigious Honorary Membership of the Rotary Club of Bombay Hills South. He has performed his very INTERACTIVE MATHEMAGIC PROGRAM all over Mumbai. He has within India also performed in Dharampur, Rajkot, Kerala, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai. Internationally he has been to USA, Canada, Spain, Indonesia and 7 times to Sri Lanka.
Minoo has come more than 10 times on Television. He has come on DD-Girnar channel; Star; Zee and other channels. He has come 3 times on ALL INDIA RADIO.He wants to explore a career in Acting and has acted in the T.V.Show Nagin 3. He has been invited to many prestigious schools, colleges, clubs and companies. He has performed more than 850 shows. Minoo’s determination and tenaciousness has helped him to create many tricks and techniques and conduct classes in Memory Development where he has various levels of Memory Enhancement Techniques Courses and he taught students from the age of 4 and he has also taught seniors in their late seventies. Today Minoo has a photographic memory and in his classes he stresses on ICVAR i.e. Intelligence, Confidence, Visualisation, Association and Revision which are very essential for training your memory.
While there is so much negativity with regards to Corona virus; Minoo is an extremely positive person who FIRMLY BELIEVES the world will prevail in this Fight against the virus. Minoo is extremely saddened at the way lakhs of people have succumbed to the disease; and he believes that the Fear of the virus is more dangerous than the virus and that one has to be a POSITIVE BRAVE Person in life and face all adversities well. Minoo is confident this dark phase will end soon and that the good old days will return. And that the lessons learned in this phase must never be forgotten. He urges all to never take life for granted.
Minoo is a sports person. He has won several Lawn Tennis Tournaments and also been the Runners-up. He is also a Cricket All Rounder having played matches with the season ball and has NO FEAR of the same. He has also run Marathons 11 kilometers as well as 21 kilometers. He also is an avid Yoga Person. Not only does he himself do Yoga himself; he also makes his students do it and benefit from it. He says the biggest advantage of students doing yoga is self-mastery and self-identity. Yoga is the vehicle through which one can do that. As the child goes to higher classes, yoga helps to keep the focus that helps the students to study better. He points out Yoga is not just a system of exercises. It is a holistic science promoting specific techniques for integrated development of one’s being- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. And that regular practice of Yoga ensures sound health, sharp intellect, youthful looks, and abundant energy.
The best thing about this Minoo is that he is hungry to learn constantly and is amazingly versatile. He is a brilliant public speaker having won over 15 first prizes, is an LIC and GIC Agent, is a Numerologist who does Numerology Consultations giving 6 to 7 pages report to his clients, etc. He loves teaching his students and makes them overcome MATH FEAR. He is a very positive person who despite facing so many problems in life never gave up. Among his life philosophies; some prominent ones are:
WHEN FACED WITH A PROBLEM; DON’T SAY “WHY ME”; SAY “TRY ME”.
IN MATHS; MEMORY OR IN LIFE; NOTHING IS BORING OR DIFFICULT; IT CAN ONLY BE CHALLENGING OR TRICKY.
ASK GOD NOT WHY HE GAVE YOU PROBLEMS; BUT ASK HIM FOR THE STRENGTH TO FACE THE PROBLEMS.
SMILE AND LIVE WELL WHEN ALIVE; LAUGH AND GO WHEN THE TIME COMES TO GO TO GOD.
SUCCESS COMES IN CANS; NOT CAN’T; WHICH MEANS IT’S POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS IN LIFE ONLY IF YOU’RE CONFIDENT TO DO SO.
THE FINANCE ACT 2020 BY THE INTRODUCTION OF SEC 12AB HAS MADE IT MANDATORY TO RENEW CERT,12A WITH IMMIDIATE EFFECT & EVERY 5YEARS THEREAFTER. WHICH WAS VALID TILL LIFE OF THE INSTITUTION UNLESS EXPRESLY CANCELLED BY THE I.T. DEPT .
THE EXEMPTION FOR TRUSTS & RELIGIOUS & CHARITABLE TRUST WAS GOVERNED BY SECs 11, 12, &13.WHICH EXPRESLY MANDATED, THAT A TRUST CREATED FOR A SPECIFIED PEOPLE OR FOR A SPECIFIED COMMUNITY WAS NOT COVERED UNDER EXEMPTION OF TAX UNDER SECs 11,12 & 13. & TO BGE ELIGIBLE THE TRUSTS CHARITABLE OBJECTS NEEDS TO BE APLICABLE TO ALL PERSONS WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION OF RELIGION, CAST, CREED OR STATUS, HOWEVER, THIS DISQUALIFICATION WAS NOT APPLICABLE FOR TRUSTS REGISTERED BEFORE THE I.T. ACT 1962 BECAME APPLICABLE, HENCE ALL RELIGIOUS & CHARITABLE TRUSTS REGISTERE BEFORE 1ST APRIL 1962 WHERE EXEMPT FROM TAX & ELIGIBLE FOR CERT.12A & 80G.
THE NEW SEC 12AB MANDATES AS ESSENTIAL THAT THE OBJETS MUST INCLUDE APLICABILITY TO ALL PERSONS IRESPECTIVE OF RELIGION CAST CREED OR STATUS, PERPEPECTUITY, TRANSFER TO A NOTHER LIKE TRUST IF IT IS TO BEWOUND UP,THESE MANDATORY CLAUSES & SOME OTHERS, EFFETIVELY MEANS THAT EXEMPTION GIVEN TO RELIGIOUS & CHARITABLE TRUST OF A SPECIFIC COMMUNITY ARE NO LONGER ELIGIBLE FOR TAX EXEMPTION,.
MY QUERY IS DOES SEC 12AB OVERIDE THE EXEMPTION GIVEN UNDER SECs 11,12,& 13 FOR TRUSTS CREATED & REGISTERED BEFORE 1962 & THEREFORE ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR EXEMPTION & CERT.12A
OR 80G UNLES THEY AMEND THEIR OBJECTS TO INCLUDE,FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL WITHOUT DIFRETIATING ,CAST, RELIGION, CREED OR STATUS.
The group brings together experts from multiple disciplines, including academia, business, government, and civil society, to share their research and analysis, engage in debate and organise around specific issues.
Professor Sethna’s expertise lies in entrepreneurship, the future of consumption and family business. He commented on the appointment:
‘I am committed to Regent’s mission of developing tomorrow’s global leaders and thus improving the state of the world by helping to shape the global agenda. I’m humbled and delighted to accept an invitation to join The World Economic Forum’s Expert Network.’
Zubin is a Professor of Entrepreneurial Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, and Head of Programmes for MSc Marketing Psychology and MA Enterprise.
Meher Castelino’s Fashion Musings takes a humorous, saucy, cheeky, tongue-in-cheek look at the fashion, beauty and film world in her unique style.
The unconventional Q & A format of the book makes it easy reading, while taking the reader through the various segments of style and glamour.
With a Foreword by ace couturier, Tarun Tahiliani and stunning cover design/illustrations by Marangoni Istituto trained designer, Aniket Satam, Meher Castelino’s racy style with quirky anecdotes and hilarious one-liners, makes Fashion Musings a great travel read or a relaxing bedside book.