Bombay city has always had a soft corner for everything Chinese. It was a taste created by the early Parsi merchants, who profited significantly from the cotton and opium trade with China in the second half of the 19th century. There is no confirmed date on when the Chinese first came to Bombay, bringing with them some unmatched skills, besides their cuisine. But today, it’s a reinvigorated economic engagement: Chinese goods flood Mumbai’s markets. Chinese companies and a bank are setting up base, while Indian conglomerates, in turn, are acquiring a growing presence in China
Adjunct Fellow, Bombay History Studies
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).
Last modified: January 25, 2018
The 200-year-old history of the Indian Chinese population – currently 3,000 – in Calcutta and Bombay shows how the two civilisations were deeply connected. Buddhism and trade forged the link in the ancient past, but a forgotten aspect is the more recent, once vibrant Chinese presence in India. The bustling China Towns of yore fell silent after the 1962 India-China war that impelled the migration of the Indian Chinese to Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. Revisiting this period can offer many lessons in cultural assimilation and diplomacy in the more fractious present
Bombay’s Parsis, Bene-Israel Jews, and Goans settled in Karachi, Lahore and other cities and provinces that the British had annexed since the mid-19th century. The Partition of India in 1947 gave these minority communities the choice to stay or leave. The Bene-Israel left. The Parsis and Goans continue to have a presence in Pakistan
The Sikh and Punjabi community of Sion-Koliwada Camp, Mumbai, hailed mostly from the Muslim-majority North West Frontier Province (NWFP), rather than undivided Punjab. They brought to their adopted city – and to India – a rich and varied cultural presence
Many of the Hindu Sindhi refugees who fled to India post Partition succeeded in rebuilding their lives afresh, their native entrepreneurial spirit enabling them to rise up from the destitution that displacement caused. Ulhasnagar, Thane district, which was a refugee camp 70 years ago, is a microcosm of how the community rehabilitated itself--with the help of a well dispersed and generous Sindhi trading network
The 70th Independence Day for India and Pakistan – August 15 and 14 respectively – is a reminder of how Partition displaced 15 million people, causing untold hardship. What is less known is that the cities of Karachi and Bombay have had a shared colonial history and economy: the parting of ways left one bereft of a host of spirited citizens, who went on to rebuild their lives in the other
The Aga Khan IV, Prince Karim al-Husayni, the religious head of of the Ismaili Shia Imamat, celebrated the diamond jubilee year of his leadership earlier this week with the launch of many development projects. What is not very well known is that Bombay was a centre for the consolidation of the community and its religious leaders’ influence
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel (July 4-6) marks 25 years of India’s diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. Forging political and economic ties with it has not been smooth sailing, and it’s the Indian Jewish community that has kept a tenuous relationship going
One of the conclusions drawn from a recent panel discussion, co-hosted by Gateway House and Avid Learning, on how brands are helping promote heritage conservation, moderated by Sifra Lentin, Mumbai History Fellow, was that there is an urgent need to preserve Mumbai’s natural and built heritage to meet the Maharashtra government’s target--the year 2020--for inaugurating the international financial centre at Bandra-Kurla Complex. Here is a summary of the concerns that the panellists raised
In light of our government's new understanding of the role that the sister cities relationship can play in envisioning urban projects in India, Gateway House's Mumbai History Fellow, Sifra Lentin, has readied a special report on the role and understanding of sister cities.