Sir Pherozeshah Mehta
Pherozeshah Merwanjee Mehta
4 August 1845
|Died||5 November 1915 (aged 70)|
|Alma mater||University of Mumbai|
|Known for||Co-founder and president of Indian National Congress|
|Political party||Indian National Congress|
Sir Pherozeshah Merwanjee Mehta(4 August 1845 – 5 November 1915) was an Indian Parsi politician and lawyer from Bombay. He was knighted by the British Government in India for his service to the law. He became the Municipal commissioner of Bombay Municipality in 1873 and its President four times – 1884, 1885, 1905 and 1911. Mehta was one of the founding members and President of the Indian National Congress in 1890 held at Calcutta.
Mehta was born on 4 August 1845 in Bombay (now Mumbai) to a Parsi business family. His father, a Bombay-based businessman who also spent plenty of time in Calcutta, was not highly educated, but he did translate a Chemistry textbook into Gujarati and wrote a Geography textbook. Graduating from the Elphinstone College in 1864, Pherozeshah obtained his Master of Arts degree with honors six months later, becoming the first such Parsi, from the Bombay University (later re-established as University of Mumbai). Sir Alexander Grant, principal of the university, nominated him a Fellow of the University and tried to procure him a scholarship founded by Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy to study in Europe. However, Mehta did not avail himself of the scholarship.
Mehta went to England to study law at Lincoln's Inn in London. Here, he met and began association with fellow Indian barristers Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee and Badruddin Tyabji. In 1868, he became the first Parsi barrister called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn. The same year, he returned to India, was admitted to the bar, and soon established a practice for himself in a profession then dominated by British lawyers.
It was during a legal defence of Arthur Crawford that he pointed out the need for reforms in the Bombay municipal government. Later, he drafted the Bombay Municipal Act of 1872 and is thus considered the 'father of Bombay Municipality'. Eventually, Mehta left his law practice to enter politics.
A portrait of Pherozeshah Mehta at the Indian Parliament House, shows his importance in the making of the nation. He was known as 'The Lion of Bombay' and 'Uncrowned King of Bombay'. In Mumbai, even today Mehta is much revered; there are roads, halls and law colleges named after him. He is respected as an important inspiration for young Indians of the era, his leadership of India's bar and legal profession, and for laying the foundations of Indian involvement in political activities and inspiring Indians to fight for more self-government.
In Mehta's lifetime, few Indians had discussed or embraced the idea of full political independence from Britain. As one of the few people who espoused involvement of the activity of Indians in politics, he was nicknamed "Ferocious Mehta."