This Day in History (10-Jan-1892) – Wildemar Haffkine, innoculated himself with vaccine against Plague publicly to demonstrate the harmlessness of the product

In 1889 Haffkine, former Vladimir Khavkin, a Russian Jewish, moved to Paris and started working in Pasteur’s world famous laboratory. His initial work on producing a cholera inoculation was successful. Haffkine then sought to test the vaccine under epidemic conditions. When Lord Duffin, ambassador to France and formerly viceroy of India, learned of his project he persuaded Haffkine to go instead to Calcutta, India, where hundreds of thousands died from ongoing epidemics. At first, he was met with deep suspicion and survived an assassination attempt by Islamic extremists; once stones thrown by the crowd broke glass instruments and a panic nearly ensued. Haffkine quickly pulled up his shirt and allowed another to plunge a hypodermic into his side. The curiosity of the villagers was thus aroused and 116 of the 200 peasants assembled volunteered for inoculation. None were to die in the epidemic, although nine of those who refused inoculation did.

At the outbreak of the plague epidemic in Bombay in October 1896, Haffkine was summoned to the city. He improvised a laboratory in the Grant Medical College and set to work on preventive and curative measures. A curative serum was tested in four months, but was not found to be reliable. Emphasis moved to a preventive vaccine using dead bacteria. A form useful enough for human trials was ready by January 1897, and tested on volunteers at the Byculla jail the next month. Recognition followed quickly. Aga Khan provided a building to house Haffkine’s “Plague Research Laboratory” and other prominent citizens of Bombay supported his researches. However, the medical community was not very sympathetic towards him. In 1902 the vaccine apparently caused nineteen cases of tetanus. An inquiry commission indicted Haffkine, who was relieved of the position of the Director of the Plague Laboratory. A review of this commission’s report by the Lister Institute in England overturned this decision, put the blame squarely on the doctor who administered the injections, and exonerated Haffkine. Since the Bombay post was already occupied, Haffkine moved to Calcutta, where he worked until his retirement in 1914. In 1925, when the Plague Laboratory in Bombay was renamed the “Haffkine Institute”, he wrote that “…the work at Bombay absorbed the best years of my life… “.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.hafftka.com/bio/great-uncle.html

http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/3306.html

This Day in History (28-Dec-1885) – The Indian National Congress was founded

At the close of the First War of Indian Independence in 1857, the British government established an imperial headquarters on the subcontinent at Kolkata. Over the next twenty-plus years, administrators set out to engage the natives in order to avoid the rebellions which forced the East India Company to relinquish control in the first place. By 1883, the responsibility for developing this coalition became the personal mission of a retired district officer named Allan Octavian Hume. Capitalizing on the simmering desire amongst Indians for independence, he composed an open letter for a carefully-chosen group of graduates from the University of Calcutta explaining they would have to “make a resolute struggle to secure greater freedom for yourselves and your country.”

The idea of the Congress took concrete shape during a meeting of the Theosophical Convention in Madras in December 1884. In March 1885 a notice was issued convening a meeting at Pune in December of the same year, but due to a severe plague outbreak there, the meeting was later shifted to Bombay. Granted permission by the governor, the Viceroy understood Hume’s intention — coupled with that of natives like Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee and others — to be the creation of a single point of contact for the varying concerns locals might bring to the colonial government.

On December 28, 1885, a group of 72 delegates gathered at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College in Mumbai to form the Indian National Congress (INC) with W.C. Bannerjee in the chair and Hume assuming office as the General Secretary. Other important delegates included Dadabhai Naoroji, Justice Ranade, Pherozeshah Mehta, K.T. Telang and Dinshaw Wacha. Defining the objective of the Congress, the president spoke of the “promotion of personal intimacy and friendship among all the more earnest workers in our country’s cause in the parts of the empire and eradication of race, creed or provincial prejudice and fuller development of national unity”.

Subsequently, the Congress led India to Independence in 1947 after a long but remarkably peaceful struggle.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/december-28-1885-the-indian-national-congress-is-founded-in-mumbai-

http://www.indianetzone.com/41/history_indian_national_congress.htm

This Day in History (4-Dec-1924) – Gateway of India was inagurated by Lord Riding

The objective behind the construction of the Gateway of India was to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay (Mumbai). In March 1911, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, who was then the Governor of Bombay, laid down the monument’s first foundation. Although, this plan was approved in 1914, the reclamations at Apollo Bunder were completed in 1919. The architectural design of Gateway of India was fashioned by architect, George Wittet. It took four years to complete this monument’s construction.

The structural design of the Gateway of India is constituted of a large arch, with a height of 26m. The monument is built in yellow basalt and indissoluble concrete. The structural plan of Gateway of India is designed in the Indo-Saracenic style. One can also find traces of Muslim architectural styles incorporated in the structure of the grandiose edifice. The central dome of the monument is about 48 feet in diameter, with a total height of 83 feet. Designed with intricate latticework, the 4 turrets are the prominent features of the entire structure of the Gateway of India. There are steps constructed behind the arch of the Gateway that leads to the Arabian Sea. The monument is structured in such a way that one can witness the large expanse of the ‘blue blanket’ right ahead, welcoming and sending off ships and visitors.

At one point of time, this monument represented the grandeur of the British Raj in India. The total construction cost of this monument was approximately 21 lakhs. The passing of the ‘First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry’ was recorded as the first main event that took place at the Gateway of India. This ceremony was conducted on February 28, 1948, when the last set of British troops and divisions left India, post-independence.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.mumbai.org.uk/gate-way-of-india.html

This Day in History (8-Aug-1942) – ‘Britishers Quit India’, this resolution was announced in public at Bombay Congress Session

On July 14th 1942, the Congress Working Committee approved the resolution which declared “the immediate ending of the British rule in India is an urgent necessity both for the sake of India and for the success of the cause of United Nations.” The historic session of the All India Congress Committee began on the 7th August 1942 and was concluded after midnight of 8th/9th August 1942 at Gowalia Tank Maidan, Mumbai. The resolution was passed unanimously. The resolution which came to be known as ‘Quit India Resolution’ created on ‘electrifying atmosphere’ in the country. Gandhi conferred with his colleagues for the appropriate slogan for the movement against British to leave India. One of them suggested ‘Get Out’. Gandhi rejected it as being impolite. Rajagopalachari suggested ‘Retreat’ or ‘Withdraw’. That too was not acceptable. Yusuf Meheraly presented Gandhi a bow with an inscription bearing ‘Quit India’. Gandhi said in approval, ‘Amen’. That is how the historic slogan was selected.

Gandhi in his stirring speech told the people “There is a mantra, short one, that I give you. You imprint it on your heart and let every breath of yours give an expression to it. The mantra is “do or die”. In early hours of 9th August, all the top leaders – Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Azad were arrested and Congress was declared an unlawful organization. With the arrest of all the national leaders, there was nobody to guide the popular agitation. There were hartals and riots by the crowd. Even the private cars were not allowed to proceed unless there was a Gandhi cap on the head of at least one of the passengers.

The Government issued an order banning public processions, meetings & assemblies. Despite the police warning large crowd had gathered at Gowalia Tank Maidan. Aruna Asaf Ali hoisted the Indian flag. Lathi charge and tear gas was used by the police to disperse the crowd which had gathered at Gowalia Tank Maidan. The national flag was pulled down and volunteers who went to its rescued were beaten off.

 

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://www.gandhi-manibhavan.org/activities/quit_india.htm

This Day in History (7-May-1907) – The First Electric Tramway service commenced in Bombay (Mumbai)

A contract for construction of Tramways was given to Stearns and Kitteredge in 1873. They were to run the lines for 21 years after which electric trams were introduced. The first trams, between Parel and Colaba were drawn by teams of six to eight horses. When the tramways started in 1874, Stearnes and Kitteredge had a stable of 900 horses.

In 1905, a newly formed concern, “The Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited” bought the Bombay Tramway Company. The order for the first electric tram-car had been placed with the Brush Electrical Company of London. The vehicle arrived in Mumbai in January 1906 and the first electrically operated tram-car appeared on Mumbai’s roads in 1907. There used to be an Upper Class in the tram-cars; it was removed by September 1909. The passing years aggravated the problem of rush-hour traffic and to ease the situation, double decker trams were introduced in September, 1920.

The night of March 31, 1964 was highly sentimental for lakhs of Mumbaikars as they bid adieu to the trams which had ferried them for 90 years.

Reference:

http://www.indianage.com/search.php

http://bombayrailway.blogspot.in/2009/09/replica-of-citys-last-surviving-tram-is.html

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-bombay-trams-a-nostalgic-ride-1880468

https://www.bestetender.com/Aboutus.aspx

This Day in History (27-Mar-1668) – English king Charles II gives Bombay to East India Company for just 10 pounds of gold a year

Mumbai was just seven islands Colaba, Mazagaon, Mahim, Parel, Bombay Island, Worli and Old Woman’s Island. They were separated by swamps: the land was dangerous and unhealthy.In 1534, the Portuguese captured the seven islands from Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and established a trading centre there. The Portuguese called the place Bom Bahia, meaning ‘the good bay’, which the English pronounced Bombay. This trading place slowly grew, with local people trading products such as silk, muslin, chintz, onyx, rice, cotton and tobacco. By 1626, there was a great warehouse, a friary, a fort and a ship building yard. There were also new houses for the general population, and mansions for the wealthy.

In October 1626, whilst at war with Portugal, English sailors heard that the Portuguese had “got into a hole called Bombay” to repair their ships. They attacked Bombay, but the ships had already left. The English burned down buildings, and destroyed two new Portuguese ships not yet from the stocks. In May 1662, King Charles II of England married Catherine of Braganza, whose family offered a large dowry. Part of this gift was the Portuguese territory of Bombay. However, Charles II did not want the trouble of ruling these islands and in 1668 persuaded the East India Company to rent them for just 10 pounds of gold a year.

Within a few years the Company had transformed Bombay. Governor Gerald Aungier set about building up the port, with a new quay, warehouses and a customs house. The Company supported him and encouraged him to build a new city – they even sent him the plan of London as it was to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666. Aungier started a complex building programme: causeways to link the islands; forts and a castle to protect people; a church, a hospital, and a mint where coins were made. He made the city more populous by attracting Gujarati traders, Parsi ship-builders, and Muslim and Hindu manufacturers from the mainland.  In 1687, the Company made Bombay their Indian headquarters. The headquarters stayed there until 1708. During Mughal attacks in 1689, city lost its major manpower but bounced back by 1700 to become ‘gateway of India’.

 

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/march/27

http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/trading/bombay/history.html

http://www.mumbai.org.uk/history.html

http://www.maharashtratourism.net/cities/mumbai/history.html