Sifra Lentin

Sifra Lentin

Bombay History Fellow

Sifra Lentin is a Mumbai-based writer and the Bombay History Fellow at Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. She graduated in English from Elphinstone College, Mumbai, and went on to complete her Bachelor’s in General Law (BGL) from Government Law College, Mumbai. She has written for a wide spectrum of Mumbai-based newspapers and magazines – most notably Mid-Day, Reuters, The Times of India, The Sunday Observer, Hindustan Times, Taj Magazine, JetWings and One India One People. The books written by her are: the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet coffee table book ‘A Salute To The Sword Arm – A Photo Essay On The Western Fleet’ (April 2007), and more recently Our Legacy: the Dwarkadas family of Bombay (March 2018) on the 250 year old history of the eminent Halai Bhatia Dwarkadas Khimji family of Mumbai. She has also been published in three books: MARG’s ‘Indian Jewish Heritage – Ritual, Life-Cycle & Art’ (2002), One India One People’s book on Communities of India (2006), and recently in Primus Publications Mumbai Socio-Cultural Perspectives: Contributions of Ethnic Groups and Communities (2018), where she has written Chapter 10 on ‘Mumbai’s Jewish Community’. Lentin was recently awarded a one-month fellowship (October 2018) to the Herbert Katz Center for Advance Judaic Studies in Philadelphia for a project on the ‘Jews of Karachi’. She is also on the Board of Trustees of the Sir Jacob Sassoon School (Byculla, Mumbai).
Expertise

History, Bombay

Last modified: November 12, 2020

Recent projects

SCO Cover _Final_2020 Courtesy: Gateway House
12 November 2020 Gateway House

India and the SCO in the 21st Century

The 20th meeting of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of States was held virtually on 10th November, 2020. The meeting precedes the SCO Summit to be hosted by India at the end of this month, and for which preparations have been on through the year. In this compendium of three essays, Gateway House assesses the potential for deepening economic cooperation between India & SCO, asks whether the SCO Charter needs dynamism and revision, and traces the roots of the regions's Buddhist presence, back to India.
Sifra_image Courtesy: Gateway House
12 November 2020 Gateway House

India and the SCO: Bound by Buddism

In November this year, India will be hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Council (SCO) exhibition “Shared Buddhist Heritage” to coincide with the SCO Council of Heads of Government Meeting and two Ministerial Level Meetings. This paper recommends a theme on India’s Buddhist legacy in the SCO, which ties together three important Buddhist historical narratives (based on archaeological evidence), that can add heft to India’s leadership in reviving people-to-people ties through Buddhism amongst the eight member nations
INS_Viraat_front_view Courtesy: Wikipedia
1 October 2020 Gateway House

INS Viraat sails away

Five days before World Maritime Day last week, the former Flag Ship of India’s Western Fleet headquartered in Mumbai – the Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat or R 22 – was towed away to the ship-breaking yard in Alang, Gujarat. This brought down the curtains on Viraat’s glorious career of 58 years at sea. The Indian Navy is awaiting the commissioning of a new aircraft carrier ‘Vikrant’, named after the Indian Navy’s first carrier. Just as it will one day induct another new carrier and name it after the Viraat.
800px-Emergency_hospital_during_Influenza_epidemic,_Camp_Funston,_Kansas_-_NCP_1603 Courtesy: Wikipedia
17 September 2020 Gateway House

The 1918 ‘flu: India’s worst pandemic

The 20th century’s worst pandemic – Spanish Flu – erupted in March 1918 in Camp Funston (Kansas, U.S.) during the Great War. Much like Covid-19 it spread globally at an astonishing pace. Its Second Autumnal Wave took about 30 million lives in four months, half of those in India. It’s sheer virulence and high mortality makes this virus the correct analogy for Covid-19
Sifra - final Courtesy: Gateway House
25 June 2020 Gateway House

Mumbai-Shanghai: two COVID-19 stories

The sister cities of Mumbai and Shanghai have a shared history, population size, and economic significance. On 29 May, a roundtable between the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and Gateway House encouraged discussion on strategies to battle COVID-19, and kick-start city economies after a lockdown. Here are some workable solutions.
A postcard by Clifton & Co., c. 1903, showing a ward with patients and two medical personnel taken in a Plague Hospital in Bombay. Courtesy: Burrough's Wellcome archive
7 May 2020 Gateway House

Lessons from the Bombay Plague

To tackle Covid19 the Indian government has invoked the colonial-era Epidemics Act of 1897, originally enacted to tackle the Bombay Plague of 1896. The plague wreaked havoc across Bombay and presented some of the same challenges the government faces today, including a migrant labour exodus. History teaches by examples - here is a glance in to the past
p7 Courtesy: Lovneet Bhatt
2 April 2020 Gateway House

Afghan Hindus & Sikhs under attack

The 25 March 2020 attack on a Sikh gurudwara in Kabul focused world attention on the plight of Afghanistan’s indigenous Sikh and Hindu minorities, the target of both local lawless elements and religious fundamentalists. They once were a significant part of Afghanistan’s principally Muslim population and a mark of its cultural syncretism and religious pluralism
The dashing Actor Prithviraj Kapoor as the Greek King Alexander in Sikander (1941). Prithviraj is spoken of by Hindi movie industry insiders as being a Hindu Pathan, as he spoke fluent Pushto and hailed from Peshawar. Courtesy: Sifra Lentin
30 January 2020 Gateway House

The Khans of Bombay’s Hindi film industry

Bombay’s Hindi film industry has welcomed Pathan talent – venerated actor Dilip Kumar, scriptwriter Salim Khan and musician Adnan Sami Khan are some prominent examples. Many of them originally came from undivided India’s Pathan homelands in what is today’s Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, entering the industry at an opportune time. Today, their descendants wear the Khan name with pride

IMG_9756 Courtesy: Gateway House
12 December 2019 Gateway House

Bombay’s Pathans: living by a code

Bombay’s Pathan community was most visible from the 19th century until India’s partition in 1947. Taking to hard labour with a natural ease, they worked mostly in mills and as security staff. Others went into business. Their numbers have thinned now, but they have retained their cultural identity, holding fast to feudal codes of conduct