Sifra Lentin

Sifra Lentin

Bombay History Fellow

Sifra Lentin is Fellow, Bombay History Studies. She was Visiting Fellow 2018 at the Herbert Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at University of Pennsylvania for a project on Karachi’s Jews. Her latest Gateway House policy report on “India and the SCO, Bound by Buddhism” (November 2020) proposed how India could leverage her soft power as the holy land of Buddhism in this multilateral grouping.  Her “Mumbai-Shanghai Sister Cities” report (May 2017): proposed recommendations on how sister city relationships between these two cities can be made to work. She has also written a number of books, namely, Bombay’s International Linkages (Gateway House, 2019); Our Legacy: The Dwarkadas Family of Bombay (2018), and A Salute to the Sword Arm – A photo Essay on the Western Fleet (Western Naval Command, 2007). Her work has also appeared in edited volumes: “The Jewish Presence in Bombay” in India’s Jewish Heritage: Ritual, Art, & Life-Cycle (Marg Publication, 2002), “Shalom India” published in One India One People’s book Know India Better (2006), “The Jewish presence in Mumbai: their contribution to the city’s economic, social and cultural fabric”, in Mumbai—Socio-Cultural Perspectives: Contribution of Ethnic Groups & Communities (Primus Books, 2017).

Sifra graduated in English Literature from Elphinstone College, Mumbai, and went on to complete her Bachelor’s in General Law (BGL) from Government Law College, Mumbai.  Her earlier career was in journalism with a focus on Bombay and South Asian Jewish history. Most notably, she wrote a popular thrice-weekly column for Mid-Day “Vintage Mumbai” from 1995 to 1997 and a five-part Partition series for Reuters on the golden jubilee of Indian Independence in 1997. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Sir Jacob Sassoon School (Byculla, Mumbai).

Expertise

History, Bombay

Last modified: January 10, 2019

Recent projects

IndiaTimes Courtesy: India Times
6 December 2018 Gateway House

Kartarpur-Canada-India-China

The recent opening of the Kartarpur corridor in Punjab and the release of a Canadian parliamentary report on the security breach during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India visit are important developments. They present a good opportunity for New Delhi to step up cooperation with Ottawa on countering terrorism and violent extremism
A photo of Kakira Sugar Works (Uganda) in 1957 (Courtesy: Tide of Fortune: A family tale, by Manubhai Madhvani) Courtesy: Tide of Fortune: A family tale, by Manubhai Madhvani
26 July 2018 Gateway House

Modi on the India-Africa Dhow Route

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Rwanda and Uganda, en route to the BRICS Conference in South Africa (July 25-27), is significant as it is a rebolstering of ties with these East African landlocked nations through their Indian diasporas, ties that will be cemented further by cooperation in defence, finance, education and other sectors. The Bombay Presidency once played a key role in the development of this region
The Presidency Chartered Bank of Bombay on 1 Rampart Row was founded in 1840 and was one of three presidency banks that were the precursors of the State Bank of India (1955) Courtesy: State Bank of India
3 May 2018 Gateway House

Indian banking’s chequered history

The history of modern Indian banking in the 19th century is full of examples of lopsided loan portfolios, favouring a few individuals and businesses, which is not very different from today’s world of financial fraud and manipulation of the system for personal gain. The past still holds many lessons

The historic Bombay Mint Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons
19 April 2018 Gateway House

Rationale for the return of the global rupee

Over 50 years ago, the Indian rupee was a currency of overseas trade besides being the local currency for the Gulf nations and many regions of the Indian Ocean. It fell into a retreat for many reasons. With the Indian economy slated to strengthen 2019 onwards, this is the right time to speed up the rupee’s full capital account convertibility

Sifra at C3S blog Courtesy: Chennai Center for China Studies
22 February 2018 Gateway House

Can soft diplomacy bridge the India-China divide?

On 12 February, the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S), the Press Institute of India and the Centre for Public Policy Research, hosted a conference on ‘Enhancing India-China People-to-People Relations’ to explore ways student exchanges, language studies, the arts, think tanks and academia might increase people-to-people interactions and circulations between the two nations
39756875281_ac24720250_o Courtesy: Israel Prime Minister/ Flickr
26 January 2018 Gateway House

Bibi’s visit a shoring up of business synergies

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to India, which came as a fitting finale to the silver jubilee celebrations marking diplomatic relations between the two countries, showed a purposeful shift in focus from defence to business. The large Israeli trade delegation, accompanying the prime minister, was there to further robust business ties going back to 1972

Prime Minister Modi with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu taking a leisurely stroll along Olga beach in northern Israel, on the last day of the Indian PM's historic visit in July 2017. Courtesy: Flickr/MEA India
11 January 2018 Gateway House

Soft power of Israel’s Indian Jews

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu’s official visit to India from January 14 to 19 will lay accent on the many commercial ties that bind the two countries. Equally important, if less visible, is Israel’s Indian Jewish diaspora, that has benefited greatly ever since full diplomatic relations were established
'Kwan Tai Kung, the Great Warrior King, is the main deity in the Chinese Temple on Nawab Tank Road. In the Chinese religious hierarchy he is on par with Confucius, the great teacher and philosopher. Courtesy: flickr
6 December 2017 Gateway House

Bombay’s Chinese cultural links

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
2223080434_38c7f3dee1 Courtesy: Flickr
1 November 2017 Gateway House

Indian Chinese diaspora: from Calcutta to Toronto

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
Rare-Old-Photos-of-Karachi-A-Parsi-family-in-Karachi-in-motor-car-1925-Old-and-rare-Pictures-of-Karachi Courtesy: Pinterest
7 September 2017 Gateway House

Partition: those who stayed behind

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