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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta (1886 - 1986) (1988-1)

Many people become great by what they have. Only a few know how to become great by what they are. One such, great among the greats, was Jamshed Nusserwanjee Mehta.

In 1918 as a young man, he was elected a councilor of the Karachi Municipal Corporation. He displayed such profound civic sense and fervent concern for the welfare of his fellow human beings that he was soon elected the President of the Corporation. He served in that capacity for 12 years and become the first Mayor of the city.

When Jamshed was born Karachi was little more than a small a town. When he become the first Mayor of the city it had developed somewhat in its importance. In the thirteen years during his President-ship and Mayoralty of Karachi, he transformed the city into a great and important Metropolis.

Against the shortsightedness of his councilor, he succeeded in constructing wide roads, parks, gardens and playgrounds for the young. He divided the city into wards each of which had at lest one primary school, a clinic and a maternity home. He organized emergency services such as the f ire-brigade and ambulances to reach people in emergencies.
To each aspect of this planning, he gave his personal attention. With his honest skill, real and real hard work he turned Karachi into a large well-planned, modern city which became known as THE CLEANEST IN THE EAST . He was a genius at planning. He can truly be called the Father of Modern Karachi.

As a member of the Sindh Legislative Assembly, as founder, president, secretary or treasurer of countless organizations and corporations, he served every field of human life and activity, big and small.

But his real greatness was embodied in himself, his wonderful personality, his universal love and compassion, and above all his disarming simplicity and humility. He was a real friend, philosopher and guide to the poor, sick and suffering.

For the blind, the deaf and the disabled he organized special services. He was particularly compassionate towards the lepers and gave his personal attention to the Hendersen Leper Asylum at Manghopir. The needs of these especially disabled people were ever present in his mind and action.

Jamshed Nusserwanjee always took a keen interest in the social services and the Scout Movement and although he is not amongst us today he has left a permanent place in our hearts that he won by his good deeds and qualities.

He was the father of scouting in Sindh as well as in Karachi and one of the founder members of the Boy Scout Movement in India, and later on in Pakistan. He was the Deputy Chief Commissioner of the GHQ and its Honorary Treasurer. Our Sea Scout Land Ship, named after him, will always remind us of the late Jamshed Nusserwanjee’s memory.
He was born in Karachi on 7th January 1886 of noble parents amidst wealth and comfort. He had an easy chance to be happy, to live well and to gain fame and power. But from early years, the strength of a deeply spiritual nature began to shine forth from him. For he was intensely compassionate.

Soon after leaving College, Jamshed joined his father’s business. Though a practical businessman, he showed in his work admirable detachment, integrity and a high purpose. Jamshed Nusserwanjee -as he came to be know in his later life- gave to other not only all the riches of his purse but all the wealth of, his soul; and living a life of self-denial, love and sacrifice, left behind him the fragrance of the rose. Late Christmas Humphreys in his book ‘Via Tokyo’, described Jamshed as the greatest man he met whilst in India and said of him - ‘If ever a man was Christ-like, it is he’.

On 1st August 1952, Jamshed passed away. His fragrant soul left the temporal body after a short illness. But upto the very last day, his mind was alert and he continued to work lying in bed. Even with the last flicker of his life, his mind was engrossed in thoughts of others, whose welfare he sought.

Contributed by the Jamshed Memorial Society.

To commemorate the Jamshed Nusserwanjee 1886-1986, Pakistan Post Office is issuing a stamp of Rs 3 denomination on January 7, 1988.