Seminar on Parsis And Education
The K. R. Cama Oriental Institute
The two day National Seminar on “The Contribution Made By The Parsis To The Development Of Different Aspects Of Education In The 19th and 20th Centuries In Western India” organised by the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute was held on 17th and 18th January 2009 at the Dr. Sir Jivanji J. Modi Memorial Hall of the Institute.
The Seminar was inaugurated by Dr. Armaity S. Desai, Former Chairperson, University Grants Commission. In her Address Dr. Desai welcomed the initiative taken by the Institute to organise the Seminar on such a relevant issue which brought to the forefront the role played by the Parsi community in funding and establishing a wide variety of Institutions ranging from Girls’ schools to institutions of excellence such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Indian Institute of Science. She also noted that it was a matter of great concern to see that the Parsi population in India had dropped to 69,601 according to the 2001 census and of them only 9% are between the ages of 6 and 14. Dr. Desai also made a number of suggestions on innovative ways of reaching out and educating children of the community.
Dr. Zenobia P. Dumasia, retired Reader and Head of the Department of History, Elphinstone College on “The Parsi Girls’ School Association – A Study of the Bai Bhikhaijee S. Bengallee Girls’ High School and the Bai Maneckbai N. Gamudia Girls’ High School”
Mrs. Silloo Commissariat, Former Principal, Bai Ruttonbai F.D. Panday Girls’ High School on “The Bai Ruttonbai Framji Dorabji Panday Girls’ High School – Then and Now”
Dr. Preeta Nilesh, Reader in History, V. G. Vaze College on “The First Brick in English Education for Girls in the Bombay Presidency : The Alexandra Girls’ English Institution”
Mrs. Meher Mistry, Lecturer, Department of History, Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College on “A Survey of Perceptions regarding Education of Women in the Parsi Community”
Mrs. Rashna Poncha, Lecturer, Department of History, Sophia College for Women on “An Enduring Legacy – A Paper on The Bai Avabai Framji Petit Girls’ Orphanage/High School and the J. B. Petit High School for Girls”
The Second Session on “Higher and Technical Education” was chaired by Dr. Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, Principal, St. Xavier’s College. Presenters at this Session included Professor Dr. Aravind Ganachari, Professor of History, Department of History, University of Mumbai on “Ushering India into Modernity and Nationhood : Parsis in the University of Mumbai”.
Dr. Shubhada Pandya, Research Scholar on “Parsi Physicians : Teachers, Healers, Activists 1860-2007”.
Dr. Sunil Pandya, Retired Professor of Neurosurgery, Seth G. S. Medical College on “Jamsetjee and his Hospital”.
Professor Vishwas Yande, Retired Professor and Head of the Drawing and Painting Department, Sir J. J. School of Art on “Incomplete Dream of Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy”.
Dr. Abhidha Dhumatkar, Lecturer in History, Sathaye College on “The Parsi contribution to the growth of Technical Education – The History of the V.J.T.I. (1888-2008)”.
Professor Mrs. Vispi Balaporia, Adjunct Professor, Department of English, University of Mumbai on “The contribution made by the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy family to the development of education in Mumbai and Pune”.
Ms. Zarin Sethna, Lecturer in Psychology at the S.S. and L.S. Patkar College on “An analysis of the contribution made by the Patuck Group of Educational Institutions”
Both these sessions on the first day of the Seminar were followed by lively discussions.
The Third Session held on 18th January on “Religious Education, Libraries and Archives” was chaired by Ervad Dr. Rooyintan P. Peer, Trustee, K. R. Cama Oriental Institute. Papers were presented at this session by Ervad Dr. Ramiyar P. Karanjia, Principal, Athornan Boarding Madressa on “Zoroastrian Religious Schools (Madressas) in Bombay in the 19th and 20th Centuries”
Mrs. Shehernaz Nalwalla, Lecturer in Philosophy, Wilson College on “Libraries in Mumbai – A study of the J. N. Petit Institute”
In his concluding remarks Ervad Dr. Peer brought out the close links between the philosophy of the Zoroastrian religion and the need to promote education.
The Fourth Session on “Special Education and Initiatives in Integrated Education” was chaired by Dr. Mrs. Madhuri Kulkarni, Former Professor and Head, Department of Pediatrics, L.T.M. Medical College & L.T.M. General Hospital, Mumbai. The presenters included Ms. Meher Banaji, Principal, Happy Home & School for the Blind on “The contribution made by Parsis to the development of Special Education in the 19th and 20th Centuries in Western India”
Mrs. Kate Currawalla, Founder President of the Maharashtra Dyslexia Association on “The Parsis and Special Educational Needs – An Overview” Dr. Ms. Roda B. Billimoria, Honorary Managing Trustee of the Sir Shapurji Billimoria Foundation on “Integrated Education : An ideological interpretation by the Sir Shapurji Billimoria Foundation” Dr. Mrs. Madhuri Kulkarni, Chairperson of the Session, while summing up the discussions noted that she was very happy to see that this topic was being presented and discussed, as little was known about this crucial area by the public at large.
The Fifth Session on “Specialised Institutions” was chaired by Professor Shashikumar M. Chitre, Honorary Executive Director of the Homi Bhabha Fellowship Council and a Member of the Board of Trustees of the J. N. Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians. Presentations were made by Professor Dr. S. Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai on “The Tata Institute of Social Sciences and its role in higher learning” Professor Dr. Spenta Wadia, Director, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai on “Homi Jehangir Bhabha and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research” Mr. Sharath Ahuja, Technical Officer in the Department of Instrumentation and Co-ordinator in the Archives and Publications Cell, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore on “The Indian Institute of Science : Private Philanthropy and Public Good, the Contribution of the Tatas” Dr. Mrs. Nawaz B. Mody, Director, J. N. Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians on “The J. N. Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians” Ms. Vrunda Pathare, Archivist and heading the Godrej Archives on “Udayachal Schools: An Instrument of Change, 1955-1965 (The contribution of the Godrej Group to the field of education)” All the sessions of the Seminar were very well attended throughout. Each of the Sessions was followed by an interesting question and answer session and lively interaction.
Mr. M. N. M. Cama, President, K. R. Cama Oriental Institute, in his remarks thanked the Presenters for their well researched papers and also pointed out that other researchers were also welcome to contribute research papers on subjects which had not been covered during the Seminar itself as there should be a holistic coverage of the topic in the proposed volume where the papers would be published.
Dr. Ketayun A. Dinshaw, Former Director, Tata Memorial Centre who delivered the Valedictory Address, also congratulated the President, Mr Muncherji N. M. Cama, Dr. Mrs. Nawaz B. Mody, Seminar Co-ordinator, and the Trustees of the K. R. Cama Oriental Institute for organising such an excellent Seminar, most of the sessions of which she had herself attended and learnt from. She also gave a brief background of the Tata Memorial Hospital which had been set up not only to heal cancer patients, but also to provide education and carry out research on the treatment of cancer