Saturday, March 2

Pherozeshah Mehta: Biography, legacy and his honorable contributions

Pherozeshah Mehta Biography

With silver spoon in his mouth, Pherozeshah Mehta Alias Firoz Shah Mehta was born on the 4th of August 1845 in Mumbai and had access to a liberal education. He graduated from Elphinstone College in 1864 and six months later passed the M.A. test with honors, making him the first Parsi to receive a Master’s degree. After reaching the pinnacle of academic achievement in our country, he moved to England to pursue a law degree. In this article we are going to know about Biography of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta also known as Lion of Mumbai City.

Peers and Biography of Pherozeshah Mehta

His formative mentality was stimulated by the exciting and ennobling environment of English Varsity life. J.N. Tata, Mun Mohan Ghosh, Badruddin Tyabji, W.C. Banerjee, Hormasjee Wadia, and Jamsetjee Cama were among the students he met at meetings of the London Indian Society and the East India Association, where he formed lasting friendships with half a dozen students who later rose to positions of prominence. But it was his meeting with his political “guru,” Dadabhai Naoroji, that was the most motivating of all.

Biography Portrait of Pherozeshah Mehta
File: BetterIndia

Pherozeshah Mehta – Career and Biography

Pherozshah’s Municipal career commenced in the early seventies of the 19th century under circumstances which could hardly be regarded as auspicious. Completely overlooking the innumerable benefits that had accrued from the Crawford administration, the citizens of Mumbai trooped into the Framji Cowasji Hall one fine day and heard speaker after speaker denounce the Commissioner for recklessly squandering away Municipal funds.

The public with one voice hailed this ratified Municipal Act of 1888 as a Magna Carta of their civic rights. What Joseph Charnberlain was to Birmingham, Pherozeshah Mehta alias Firoz Shah Mehta was to Mumbai.

In all topics relating to the City’s internal administration, Pherozeshah created the Corporation as “the ultimate tribunal whose decision must be definitive and binding.” As a result, he became known as the father of Mumbai’s Municipal Charter, the founder of the city’s illustrious civic traditions, and the Corporation’s trusted advisor and mentor. To his untiring efforts and inspiring guidance Mumbai is indebted for its position as the Urbs Prima in India.

Firoz Shah Mehta was nominated to the Mumbai Legislative Council in 1887 and elected to the Imperial Council by the Mumbai Legislature in 1893. A genuine Swadeshite, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta firmly believed that great as the contribution of politics and education had been, greater still would be the part commerce and industry had to play in the emancipation of our motherland.

One of his last acts of public service was the establishment of an English daily, The Mumbai Chronicle, which, like the Bank he had founded, was entirely staffed, managed, and owned by Indians. At a condolence meeting in Mumbai it was resolved to raise a fund to perpetuate his memory. The sum collected was mainly utilized in erecting an imposing statue which fittingly stands before his monumental creation – the Mumbai Municipal Corporation.

Important pieces from his Law Career

Pherozshah gave an extremely educational and thought-provoking talk on “The Educational System of Mumbai” to the members of the East India Association as part of his varied activities. When Pherozeshah Mehta was admitted to the Bar in 1868, he returned to India to discover that the legal profession was the exclusive domain of a handful of formidable British barristers, much to his dismay.

However, an adventurous spirit like Pherozeshah’s (Firoz Shah Mehta) could not stay in the wilderness permanently. He went ahead with his forensic ability and effective advocacy and was soon at the forefront of Mumbai’s legal giants. His reputation in the local law courts grew, and briefs flowed in from all over Gujarat and Kathiawar like a never-ending torrent of ‘milk and honey.’

Honoring his contributions

The picturesque Hanging Gardens atop Malabar Hill, as well as a prominent highway in Mumbai’s business hub, are both named for him. Sir Pherozeshah is unrivalled in terms of his breadth of vision and depth of mind. His amazing discernment, unwavering resolve, limitless energy, and charismatic personality earned him national acclaim during his lifetime, as well as legendary reputation when he passed into the ‘Great Beyond.’

Also Read: Prafull Vijayakar: Biography, books and contribution to Medical Science

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