1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mehta, Sir Pherozeshah Merwanji

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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Mehta, Sir Pherozeshah Merwanji
See also Pherozeshah Mehta on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

MEHTA, SIR PHEROZESHAH MERWANJI (1845-1915), Indian Moderate leader and municipal reformer, was the son of a Bombay merchant. Educated at the Elphinstone College, he was the first Parsi M.A. of Bombay University, and coming to London to read at Lincoln's Inn was also the first Parsi to be called (1868) to the bar. With Dadabhai Naoroji he founded the organization which grew into the present East India Association. Returning to Bombay he rapidly made a name as an advocate and built up a fortune at the bar. Appointed in 1869 as Justice of the Peace, to participate in municipal affairs, he eagerly promoted the reform of civic administration begun in 1872, from which date he served on the new Bombay Corporation till his death. Through these 43 years he exercised wisely an extraordinary personal ascendency in that body and was four times president. He was also the dominant non-official figure in the Bombay Legislature, where he served for over 30 years. He represented its non-official members on the Supreme Legislature for three triennial terms to 1902, when he made way for G. K. Gokhale. One of the founders of the Indian National Congress, he presided at the Calcutta session of 1890. A stout opponent of violent methods, he did perhaps more than anyone else to stave off the complete triumph the extreme section in the Congress secured soon after his death. Most influential in the affairs of the Bombay University, he was in the last few months of his life vice-chancellor. A great orator, with remarkable gifts for managing men, his steadfast devotion to local and provincial reform and progress, while not irresponsive to wider calls, had a most valuable influence in moulding nascent Indian public life. Created a C.I.E. in 1894, he was advanced to the knighthood of the Order 10 years later. In the last year of his life, in spite of declining health, he threw his great influence strongly on the side of full Indian coöperation with the rest of the Empire in the World War. He died in Bombay Nov. 5 1915.

See the political biography by H. P. Mody (2 vols. 1921). Much light is thrown on Mehta's services to his native city in Rise and Growth of Bombay Municipal Government (1913), by his most intimate friend and co-worker, Sir Dinshaw Wacha. (F. H. Br.)