Remembering My Father Cooverji H Bhabha by Rati Bhabha Forbes

This biography was published to commemorate the birth centenary of independent India’s first Commerce Minister Cooverji Hormusji Bhabha. Since it was meant as a daughter’s tribute to her father, I ghost wrote the biography on behalf of Rati Forbes.

A businessman from Bombay, Cooverji Hormusji Bhabha was a close associate of Vallabhbhai Patel, who had, in fact, suggested his inclusion in the Executive Council of Viceroy Lord Wavell (August 1946) and later the Interim Government of Viceroy Lord Mountbatten (March 1947), as the representative of the Parsi community. During this period, as the Minister for Works, Mines and Power, he made significant contribution to framing a mining policy for India and initiated work on planning of what would be some of India’s major irrigation dams and river valley projects, soon after independence.

Cooverji Bhabha was handpicked by Lord Mountbatten and appointed Chairman of the Delhi Emergency Committee which supervised and coordinated all the tasks of restoring law & order and rehabilitation in the aftermath of the riots that raged in Delhi immediately after the country’s partition. He was also a member of the Constituent Assembly and contributed significantly to drafting the legislation for governing the operations of Indian companies which was later enacted as the Indian Companies Act, 1956.

Cooverji Bhabha resigned from Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet in 1948 due to his mother’s illness and returned to Bombay to look after his business interests in banking and insurance. He was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Rural Banking and Enquiry Committee in November 1949 in which capacity he recommended the setting up of regional rural banks. He served as Vice-Chairman of the Central Bank of India from 1955 up to July 1969 when it was nationalised. As Chairman of the Indian Banks’ Association (1961), he argued for the setting up of the Credit Guarantee Corporation of India.

Cooverji Bhabha died of cardiac arrest in London in 1986.

The book draws heavily from the archives of the Bhabha family. Some of these precious letters have been used as images in the book, to establish little known facts, as well as to embellish the design elements of the book.

Publisher: Rati Forbes, Pune, 2010, hardbound, pages 164.

1. Why this Quest 8
2. Family History 10
3. Early Years 24
4. Political Appointments 38
5. Years in Government 58
6. Return to Bombay 82
7. The Family 90
8. Dad’s Persona 108
9. The Banking Years 122
10. Business and Philanthropy 142
11. Epilogue 158
Milestones 162

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