Rustom K Sidhwa was born to a Parsi family in Karachi in 1882. He was a clerk in the Post Office in Karachi, and then became the president of the Sind and Baluchistan Postmen’s Union in the early 1900s.
Sidhwa was a lifelong member of the INC, and ran several elections on a Congress ticket. In 1932, he was the General Secretary of the 45th Indian National Congress, alongside his colleague Dr. Tarachand Lalwani.
He later served as the Mayor of Karachi from 1939-40.
Role in India’s Independence Movement
He was an active participant in local politics, although he was not directly involved in the freedom struggle.
Contribution to Constitution Making
Sidhwa was elected to the Constituent Assembly on a Congress ticket from the Central Provinces & Berar. In the Constituent Assembly, he represented the minority Parsi community and its interests. This was reflected by his participation in the debates regarding minority rights, linguistic debates, and the role of religion in public life.
Sidhwa continued to be an active and vocal member of the Parsi community, and a defender of minority rights. He also remained in the INC, where he was involved in some inter-party committees and investigatory bodies, and was also a member of the Parsi Rajkiya Mandal. In 1956, he became the President of the All India Federation of Local Authorities, where he conducted detailed research into the economic life of India post-independence, and the impact of the government’s socialist policy on rural development.
Sidhwa died on 28th December, 1957.
Rustom Sidhwa Marg in Bombay, which is home to the Parsi Fire Temple, is named in his honour.
Sidhwa’s writing was mostly academic, economic, or political in nature. Alongside Dr. Tarachand Lalwani, he authored the 1932 Report of the 45th Indian National Congress.
In his capacity as the President of the All India Federation of Local Authorities, Sidhwa wrote and published a comprehensive report on labour, employment, and standards of living in under-developed countries, with a specific focus on India’s socialist policy.
- Sidhwa made a speech regarding Jinnah’s demand for Partition, speaking as a member of a minority community. In this speech, he suggested that this was another tactic in British ‘divide and conquer’ strategy.
- He also gave another speech about the state and its role in education. He urged the Assembly to ensure secular education, particularly in those institutions that received aid from the State. In this speech, he also discussed the importance of accounting and providing for linguistic sub-groups around the country, and ensuring that all children could learn in their mother tongues.