Nana Jaganath Shunkerseth (1800-65)

Jaganath Shankarseth also famously known as Nana. He was born on 10th October 1800 in a wealthy family of Goldsmith of the Daivadnya Caste in Mumbai. He engaged in commerce and became wealthy. But he donated much of it to the public and contributed to the development of Mumbai.

Contribution to Education:
Nana was active in educational field. In 1856, the British Government had announced some grant in aid to private institution but Nana taking advantage of this started an English Marathi school in Girgaum. He contributed funds to the girl’s school started by Student’s Literary and Scientific Society, inspite of strong opposition from Hindu community.

He also started other educational projects like Sanskrit Seminary, Sanskrit Library which were located in Girgaum area. Nana had firm and clear views of education should be through mother tongue. British Board of Education in Mumbai strongly opposed his proposal. But stubborn Nana issued a comprehensive statement on May 1, 1847 on the question of medium of instruction in which he said “I am not at all opposed to the study of the English language, but it had to be brought in the Indian languages.” Ultimately, a compromise was reached where it was agreed to have education in vernacular languages and higher education in English.

Nana had realized the need of education for people. He lay a solid foundation of education in Arts, Law, Science, Medicine by cooperating Mounstuart Elphinstone in establishing and functioning of Bombay University.

Other Achievements:

  • Nana Shankarshet was successful in his fight to include native of Bombay in the panel of Justices of Peace. This British panel was in possession of Bombay for over 150 years.Ultimately natives of Bombay secured this privilege and in the years that followed a number of Justices of Peace, Nana was one of them.
  • In 1858 he became Bombay Legislative Council member and handled various issues of social importance.
  • He contributed to Municipal Reforms Billing 1864-65.
  • He along with Jejeebhoy were directors in “The Bank of Western India”, the first bank to establish relations with European countries.
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