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Created on Jul 22, 1995; last modified Jul 21, 1997.

Sir Cowasji Jehangir (2nd Bart)

Now remembered in Bombay mainly through his donation for the Institute of Science, during his life, Sir Cowasji Jehangir was a prominent leader of the Parsi community. He campaigned for a prominent role for the community inside independent India.

He had become a member of the "Western India National Liberation Federation", at its founding in 1919, and was elected its president in 1936 and 1937. He was also active in the reactionary "Parsee Central Committee", which was critical of Congress Parsis like Dadabhai Naoroji and Pherozeshah Mehta.

At the second "Round Table Conference" in London during 1930-32, where the framework for the political and constitutional future of India was laid down, he was one of the three political "liberals" to represent the Parsi community. To the Minorities Committee and the Franchise Committee he advocated a graded franchise based on the standard of education which would have given the Parsis an immense over-representation in future elections. Such a scheme was never taken seriously by any other party in the discussions.

After 1939, when it was apparent that independence was to come in a short while, a large number of Parsis became active in the WINLF, whose meetings were often held at his home. As a last ditch effort, on the eve of independence in 1945, he pleaded to the Viceroy in a telegram not to forget the claims of the Parsis. This appeal, made as the president of the "Parsee Central Association" was nullified by a telegram from a group of Parsis calling themselves the "Freedom Group" which rejected any special previlege for the Parsis.