Source: Famous Parsis (New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1990), 320

Dinshaw Edulji Wacha

Born into a respectable middle class family in 1844, Dinshaw Edulji Wacha was sent to the Elphinestone Institution in Bombay at an early age. He later enrolled in Elphinestone College. However, his education was cut short to assist his father in the mercantile business where he learned the art of finance.

Wacha joined the Bank of Bombay where he received special training in branch management before becoming an Assistant in the firm of Messrs. Brodie and Wilson. During these years, he developed an interest in Indian politics and was greatly influenced by the writings of Mr. Robert Knight in matters of land revenue, opium, Inam Commission and other questions concerning financial and economic issues unique to India. He became a revered financial critic and actively encouraged intelligent public opinion on Municipal affairs using the Indian Spectator. He was simultaneously an avid reader and writer of political and economic subjects.

In 1885, Wacha became a founding member of the Indian National Congress and served as its Secretary for several years. Later in 1897, he was chosen to give evidence before the Welby Commission where he reviewed the entire financial policy of the Government of India, pointing out various defects, and proposed the introduction of an exchange reserve designed to bolster financial stability. In 1901, he was elected President of the Bombay Corporation and President of the Congress held at Calcutta. He continuously probed the government on financial matters including the expansion of railways and exorbitant military budget, but his questions were never without solutions.

Upon the death of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Wacha succeeded him as Chairman of the Reception Committee of the first session of the Commercial Congress and of the Indian National Congress. With these new titles, he encouraged a habit of “patience in politics” and paved the way for change in the Army. In 1916, he was elected to the Imperial Legislative Council and championed the nation’s demand for self-governance before age and failing health caught up with him in 1936.

Sources: Famous Parsis (New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1990), 283-329; Bhargava Parag Narain, Who’s Who in India, Part VII (Lucknow: Newul Kishore Press, 1911), 137

Works

A Financial Chapter in the History of Bombay City, 2nd edition (Bombay: A.J. Combridge & Co., 1910)

Recent Indian Finance (Madras: G.A. Natesan & Co., 1910)

Rise and Growth of Bombay Municipal Government (Madras: G.A. Natesan & Co., 1913)

The Life and Life Work of J.N. Tata, 2nd ed (Madras: Ganesh & Co., 1915)

Shells from the Sands of Bombay: Being My Recollections and Reminiscences, 1860-1875 (Bombay: K.T. Anklesaria, 1920)

Speeches and Writings of Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha, 1st ed (Madras: G.A. Natesan & Co., 1920)

 

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