The Birth of the University of Mumbai

On 18th July 1857, the University of Mumbai (then Bombay) was incorporated by an act of the Legislative Council of India. It was a culmination of the efforts of the prominent community members of Mumbai (Bombay) that led to the establishment of the University.

Article by Akshay Chavan | Live History India

In 1852, a group of prominent Indians like Dr. Bhau Daji Lad, Jaganath Shunkerseth, Cowaji Jehangir , David Sassoon and others came together to establish a group called ‘Bombay Association’, to put forward the voice of Indians to the British. In 1853 CE, this group sent a petition to the British Parliament demanding setting up of vocational training institutes for Indians. In 1857 CE, following the recommendations of a committee established by the British Indian government, the Acts incorporating Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were passed. The University of Calcutta (Kolkata) was incorporated on 24th January 1857 while the University of Madras (Chennai) started its operations on 5th September 1857.

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Jaganath Shunkerseth (Left) and Jamshedji Jejeebhoy (Right)|LHI Team

The newly incorporated University of Bombay used to initially operate out of the Town Hall, which currently houses the Asiatic Society of Mumbai. The prominent Indians who were named as Fellows of the University at the time of its incorporation were Sir Jamshedji Jejeebhoy, the noted Parsi merchant, Jaganath Shunkerseth, who was instrumental in bringing railways to Mumbai and Dr. Bhau Daji Lad, a noted scholar.

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“The Sepoy revolt at Meerut,” from the Illustrated London News, 1857|www.columbia.edu via Wikimedia Commons

Incredibly, at the same time while the University was established in Mumbai (Bombay), North India was up in flames. On 10th March 1857, Indian soldiers in the British Indian Army had revolted against the British establishment and soon the revolt would spread across the entire North India. To imagine that in midst of all the war and bloodshed, a University was founded and which thrives today, is incredible.