Dinshaw Edulji Wacha

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Sir Dinshaw Edulji Wacha (1844–1936) was a Parsi Indian politician from Bombay. He was one of the founders of the Indian National Congress, and its President in 1901.[1]

Wacha was a member of the Bombay Municipality for 40 years and was quite active. He was the President of the Bombay Presidency for three years from 1915-1918, after being the Secretary for thirty years from 1885-1915. He was active in various different areas, especially education, social reforms and economics and finance. In 1897 he embarrassed the Indian government by making everyone aware of their financial errors and shortcomings. He pointed out that they were foolishly overspending on military and civil expenditures. Wacha was very bright and was knighted in 1917. He was effective in communicating with the public and educating them on the political and economic situation of India. It is said that no economic issue or financial mistake could get past him as he would always recognize the error and bring it to the attention of the people. 

He was associated with the cotton industry and was the President of the Indian Merchants' Chamber in 1915.[2] He was knighted in 1917.

Sir Dinshaw was a member of the Bombay Legislative Council, the Imperial Legislative Council and the Council of State. He headed the Western India Liberal Association from 1919 to 1927.[3]

Relationship with Indian National Congress[edit]

Wacha played a significant role in the early days of the Indian National Congress, helping to shape its structure and the way in which it conducted its activities. Wacha was instrumental in steering the Congress away from actively soliciting the support of India's princes. Though Dadabhai Naoroji believed that "the Princes seem the only quarter where we can expect to get it [funds] to any large extent," Wacha was more skeptical of any significant support from the princes. Although the princes may share a personal sympathy with the Congress's goals, the Residents (British members of the courts) would quickly work to discipline them if they took too active of a role. Wacha doubted whether their support could be relied upon and sought to support the Congress by focusing more on private donations. Wacha further worked to strengthen the Congress structure by encouraging the creation of a representative committee at the Madras Congress to draft new rules intended to give Congress a definite institutional form. These guidelines included local standing committees composed of delegates who had previously attended Congress meetings that were to meet regularly, subcommittees that would meet once a week, and the implementation of elections to select the General-Secretary each year.

In the late 1900s, Wacha was skeptical of the unity of the Indian National Congress. He believed that part of the reason for this lack of unity was the structure of the organization. While attendees showed renewed interest and enthusiasm at annual meetings, this enthusiasm quickly faded in the periods in between. "It [enthusiasm] breaks out sporadically at a Congress, but soon, the occasion being over, it subsides-- to be restored again for a time on another occasion. This spirit of persistent disinterested agitation all over the country is not visible. There may be here and there few seized of the spirit, but they have not the strength and influence to cohere round a central point." This was state of the Congress in its early stages when Wacha presided over it.

Wacha lamented the lack of dedicated leaders who were willing to devote to Congress's political goals. He observed how many figures, such as Pherozeshah Mehta, who would have made capable leaders, eschewed total alliance with the Congress for fear of damage to their private careers. Despite this lack of support from Indian leaders, Wacha did acknowledge the vital role that the Scotsman, Allan Hume, played in maintaining Congress in between sessions, stating, "He is the man to give us steam." Still, Wacha expressed concern over Hume's growing influence over Congress and micromanagement of its affairs. "Because he is indispensable... [Hume] ought not to behave as a tyrant...He thinks in all matters he must have the upper hand." Wacha encouraged fellow Indians to take a more active and vocal role in Congress affairs, expressing, "We [Indians] ought to be energetic and patriotic enough to make an advance in our political progress without such aid. We cannot expect a perennial crop of Allan Humes to assist us." [4]

Works[edit]

References[edit]

  • G. A. Natesan, Dinshaw Edulji Wacha (Madras, 1909)
  • In South Mumbai, a road has been named after him, called Dinshaw Wachha Road.
  • Indian Nationalism and anti-industrialization

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kamat's Potpourri: Presidents of Indian National Congress
  2. ^ IMC - History - Past Presidents of IMC
  3. ^ "Indian Leader Dies". The Montreal Gazette. 20 February 1936. 
  4. ^ Seal, Anil (1968). The Emergence of Indian Nationalism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 284–289. 

External links[edit]