Moderate Leaders

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Sir Pherozeshah Mehta (1845-1915) President - Calcutta, 4 1890

Sir Pherozeshah Mehta was born in Bombay, on August 4, 1845, where he spent the greater part of his life. His father, Merwanji Mehta, belonged to a family of merchants. Pherozeshah entered the Lincoln's Inn in 1864 and spent three years qualifying himself. Called to the Bar in 1868, he left for home in September 1868. While in England, he used to frequent the house of Dadabhai Naoroji, and these visits were to remain important influences in moulding his liberal outlook. Several of his close friends were liberals; besides Telang and Badruddin Tyabji (who along with Pherozeshah were described as "the three bright boys of Bombay"), Ranade, Gokhale, Wacha, W. C. Bonnerjee and Bal Mohan Wagle were close to Pherozeshah. This made him a part of the Liberal School of Indian politics. His antipathy to violent methods in politics alienated him from Tilak and Pal, his innate trust in constitutionalism, his dislike of regional and communal developments, made him criticise Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. These were characteristics that distinguished the Liberal School in Indian politics. Education, both primary and higher, absorbed his interests throughout his life. He saw in education the means by which India could modernize itself rapidly; he laid great emphasis on the value of English. He had a hand in the establishment of a Swadeshi bank, the Central Bank of India. Pherozeshah is remembered mainly as the maker of the modern Bombay Municipal Corporation which he fostered and served in a distinguished manner for nearly half a century. He was mainly responsible for the founding of an English newspaper, the Bombay Chronicle (April 1913), which became an important agency for expressing Indian public opinion. In the nationalist movement, in the forming and running of political associations and in serving Governmental official institutions. Pherozeshah had a notable record. In the proceedings of the Indian National Congress...
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