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Hoosenally Rahimtoola

Hoosenally Rahimtoola.jpg

Hoosenally Rahimtoola

Hoosenally Rahimtoola was born in May 1890 to a merchant trading family who were well established politically in Bombay. Being the first male grandchild in the family he was brought up by his elder uncle Mohammadbhoy Rahimtoola.

Rahimtoola schooled at St. Xavier’s High School Bombay followed by obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Arts from Bombay University [1911].

He then joined business with family and remained active till partition of the sub-continent with over a dozen public and private listed companies. One of the major industries that Hoosenally was involved in was cotton where he remained Director with the Birla Mills.

He was elected to the Municipal Corporation in 1918 where he remained active for many years in different capacities including being councilor. This embarked his career in politics which would last over thirty years.

By 1920 Hoosenally had become a member of the Bombay Legislative Council of which he remained a permanent part till the late 1930s. His work on housing, local self government, civic works remained a key part of his struggle and dedication. He served on several committees chief among them Sea Encroachments [1925], Back Bay Layout [1927], King George V Memorial Fund [1936-37].

He merited the title ‘Justice of Peace’ during this time which he retained for decades to come.

Rahimtoola became Chairman Standing Committee in 1927-28 followed by Chairman Improvements Committee of the Improvements Trust in 1928-29. The board he shared of the Improvements Trust had many note worthy names of Bombay city of that time.

In 1927 he was part of a board set up under the then Commissioner of Police Bombay Mr. D. Healy to look into sorting and regularizing the Hajj process for Muslims in British India. The First India Hajj Committee sat in April 1927 in Bombay and this was to become the initiation point of the modern national Hajj Committee’s across 21st century India.

From 1931 onwards he remained trustee of the Bombay Port Trust – representing the Mill Owners Association and Municipal Corporation.

He was elected as Mayor of Bombay in 1934-35. During 1936 he became President of the Bombay Legislative Council. He also served as Minister Local Self Government for a brief period in 1937 after provincial elections were held nationwide.

The period of the late 1930s marked over three decades of association for him with the Provincial Legislature. The 1937/38 ‘India’s who’s who’ list featured Hoosenally Rahimtoola.

On the social welfare front he remained honorary auditor of the Islam Gymkhana from 1916 till 1926 and Member Gokhuldas Tejpal Hospital between 1924 till 1929. He was also Member of the Bombay Branch of the Indian Red Cross since 1924 and the Bombay Vigilance Association. His activities embraced vast field viz. student activities, community work and memorials to stalwarts such as Shri Lalji Naranji, P.B.Dinshaw and D.E.Vacha. Making services to the Khoja Community a starting point he gradually enlarged its orbit.

On the literary front Mr. Hoosenally Rahimtoola co-edited a book ‘Bombay Municipality at Work’ along with Clifford Manshardt in 1935. It was an archival of a symposium detailing the working of the Corporation and its effectiveness. The symposium had contributions from the Mayor, Commissioner, Municipal Administrator, Chief Officer, Health Officer, Schools Chairman and the City Engineer.

In the State Gazetteer of Maharashtra, Hoosenally Rahimtoola was described as one of the ‘glittering galaxy of powerful personalities’ who had occupied the prestigious Mayoral office of Bombay alongside Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Vithalbhai Patel, K.F. Nariman, J.M. Mehta and Sir Homi Mody.

Hoosenally’s father, Jaffar Rahimtoola was a leading Barrister of his time having been alma mater from Lincoln’s Inn. He remained Mayor of Bombay during 1909-10 and was author of ‘History of the Khojas’ in 1905.

His children settled in Pakistan after partition and were well established in the public sector there. The eldest son Mohammed H. Rahimtoola serving as Chief Engineer with the newly established Karachi Development Authority and the youngest Professor Shamsuddin H. Rahimtoola serving and Principal of the Dow Medical College and Medical Superintendent of the attached Civil Hospital in Karachi.

Another son Professor Shahbudin Rahimtoola settled in the United States and has been responsible for revolutionary changes in the field of Cardiology with his hypothesis on the Hibernating Myocardium and Prosthetic-valve mismatch.

Hoosenally Rahimtoola was titled ‘Vazir’ by Imam Sultan Mohamed Shah whilst residing in Bombay prior to partition of the sub-continent.

He passed away aged eighty seven (87) at Karachi in January 1977.


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