Sifra - final Courtesy: Gateway House
25 June 2020

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

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To tackle Covid19 the Indian government has invoked the colonial-era Epidemics Act of 1897, originally enacted to tackle the Bombay Plague of 1896.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

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

Plague 3 Courtesy: Welcome Collection/Capt.C. Moss
25 March 2020

Policy dilemmas from the Bombay plague of 1896

A pandemic tests governments' performance against four policy dilemmas; from preventing panic and economic collapse to calibrating the severity of response and controlling the narrative. The writer harks back to the agonies of the Bombay plague of 1896 and the dilemmas left unresolved

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

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

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

23072016-BlueMosque3 Courtesy: LBB
14 August 2019

The Persian merchants of Bombay

Bombay’s trade with the Persian Empire grew rapidly in the 19th century because of regular steamship services between the city and prominent Iranian ports such as Bushire. The wealthy and public-spirited Persian merchants, who settled in Bombay, endowed their community with a religious and social infrastructure, in use even today

imgonline-com-ua-resize-OkFHvLMWvTcPfSEl Courtesy: Shutterstock
18 July 2019

Bombay’s Irani cafes

The Irani cafés of Mumbai are a unique part of the city’s history. Founded about 120 years ago by Zoroastrian and Shia immigrants from Iran, they catered principally to workers in mills and factories. The few that remain are a reminder of a well- assimilated cultural, particularly culinary, link between India and Iran

nehru Courtesy: Free Press Journal
2 May 2019

Tracing Indian merchants in Japan

Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s coronation on May 1, marking the dawn of the Reiwa Era, is a milestone also for the Indian merchant diaspora, which began arriving during the reign of the Meiji Emperor in the 1870s. The strength of the India-Japan bilateral relationship lies in the 150-year-old narratives of these family-run firms and the success of many Indo-Japanese  collaborations