East Indians (Catholics)

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John De Mello L.S.O. J.P.'s HISTORICAL SKETCH of 1937 posted on FreeWebs

Elsie Baptista's "East Indians of Bombay" posted on FreeWebs


Who are the East Indians?

The East Indians are the indigenous Catholic inhabitants of the Western Indian cities of Bombay, Salsette and Bassein.

Christianity came to North Konkan in the 1st century AD

The Bombay Gazetteer accepted that there were Christians in the region in the 6th century AD

St. Bartholomew, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ was the first to preach in. There are indisputable evidences of this fact by the writings of Kosmos Indicopleustes of his having seen in Kalyana a flourishing Christian Community in the 6 th Century and of Jordanus, of his having laboured among the Christians in Thana and Sopara in the 13 th Century. Friar Jordanus’s evangelizing activities in Thana and Sapora was the first work of Rome in North Konkan.

Sopara was an ancient port and an international trading centre. The water once extended all the way to Bhyander creek thus making the whole area extending from Arnala to Bhyander an island - referred to as Salsatte island. In the time of the Buddha, Sopara, (Ancient Shurparaka), was an important port and a gateway settlement. Perhaps this induced Emperor Ashoka to install his edicts there. Sopara is refered in the Old Testament as Ophir, the place from which King Solomon brought gold; (1 Kings 9:28, 10:11. Cf. Psalms 45:9, Isaiah 13:12. )

Josephus identifies Ophir with Aurea Chersonesus, belonging to India (Antiquities 8:6:4). Septuagint translates Ophir as Sophia, which is Coptic for India. This refe rs to the ancient city of Soupara or Ouppara on the western coast of India.

It should then come as no surprse that contact with India dates as far back as the days of King Solomon. Pantaneus visited India about AD 180 and there he found a Gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew language, left with the Christians ther e by St. Barthlomew. This is mentioned by Eusebius, and by Jerome in one of his letters.

The finding of a Gospel of Matthew left with the Christians by Bartholomew is very strong evidence to the existence of a Christian community in India in the first century at the time of the visit of St. Bartholomew. It traces the history of the Church in India to the first century. In fact it is an independent confirmation of the Indian church’s ancient and apostolic origin

Most history of The Indian Church was lost between the 9 th and the 14 th Century, as Persia went over to the Nestorianism in 800 AD. Since the provision of Church offices and all the apparatus of public worship, was looked to a foreign source; when this foreign aid was withdrawn. the Indian Christians were reduced to `nominal’ Christians.

1498: The Portuguese come to India

The Portuguese came to India in 1498 `to evangelize and trade’. Little did they know that they had come to a land which had the unique distinction of having heard the preaching of two of the Apostles of Christ, St. Thomas and St. Bartholomew. None of them made the slightest attempt to understand the venerable civilization of Indian so much more ancient than their own, into which they had intruded.


This is Mr John De Mello's 1937 account. It varies somewhat from later accounts delinking East Indian from Portuguese conversions

The East Indian homelands are in what were the three islands of Bombay, Salsette and Bassein, which form the environs of the City of Bombay and they make the largest aggregation of Indian Christian in or near an Indian city and also include Uran and Korlai (Chaul) in the Kolaba District. The East Indians were converted to Christianity four centuries ago by ‘Portuguese Missionaries who according to the custom of the time gave them Portuguese names, and they are Roman Catholic in religion. [This contradicts the theory that they were converted in the 1st century AD by St. Bartholomew]’ According to the Government Gazetteer of the Thana District they are descendants of the converts first made by the Franciscans, and notably Antonio do Porto (1535-1548), who, principally in Bandra converted 5000 persons and afterwards by the Jesuits under St.Francis Xavier (1506-1552) and his successors.

To bring the information up to date, it may be stated that the higher castes, Brahmin, Prabhu and others have been so merged that they cannot be distinguished. The other sections, largely maintain their individuality. But the rigid Hindu caste system is not insistent. There is commensality. All freely eat together. As there is a rise in the social scale, inter-marriages take place. There is no religious prohibition to bar the intermingling. Indications are not wanting that at no distant date there will be a homogeneous people. To this end the existence of a common corporate body as the Association will contribute in no small measure. The East Indians are truly children of the soils and as such have a predominant stake in the land.

Caste hierarchies remain intact even after conversion

(This account, perhaps by Elsie Baptista, varies somewhat from Mr John De Mello's view.)

The whole policy of the Portuguese, who came to India in 1498, was to bring the Indian Christians under their concept of Roman Catholism. The Brahmins Prabhu and other high-class hindus who were prudently and cere moniously converted were treated by the Portuguese with honor and distinction.

In stark contrast, was the attitude of the Portuguese to those groups who were engaged in cultivation, fishing and other rural occupations handed down to them by their ancestors. These groups were given neither education, not proper instructions in the dogmas and doctrines of the church. Among the converts the Portuguese made, it cannot be denied that a large number of them were decendants of the Christian Community founded by Apostle St. Barthmolew . But these new converts were not strangers to the old Christians. They were their own people with whom they had been living for centuries.

The Portuguese however welded them into one community. Ever since then, this community has remained a separate entity, without becoming one with any of the other Christian Community. In certain instance, they were even referred to as `Portuguese Christians’.

With the defeat of the Portuguese at the hands of the Marathas and later on the advent of the British, there came a lot of change.

British era: Literacy in the Roman script helps obtain employment

Fortunately, for the Portuguese Christians, they were the only people in the regions, who were able to read the Roman characters, and it was from this class that the British drew its supply of clerks, assistants and secretaries.

From the early days of the East India Company, there were no other Indian Christians in the North Konkan except the Christians of the soil. Employments that were intended for the Christians, was the monopoly of the Indian Christians of the soil. With development, came in railways and steamship, a boon for the traveling public.

And with that came a number of emigrants from Goa which were also known as Portuguese Christians. The British found it expedient to adopt a designation which would distinguish the Christians of North Konkan who were British subjects and the Goans who were Portuguese subjects.

The name `East Indian' is coined

Accordingly on the occasion of The Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the Christian of North Konkan, who were known as `Portuguese Christians’ discarded that name and adopted the designation `East Indian”.

By the adoption of the name `East Indian’ they wanted to impress upon the British Government of Bombay that they were the earliest Roman Catholic Subjects of the British Crown in this part of India, is as much as Bombay, by its cession in 1661, was the first foothold the Britiash acquired in India. As the children of the soil, they urged on the Government, that they were entitled to certain natural rights and priveledges as against the emigrants.

The five Broad Cultural Groups are the

Samvedi Christians,

Koli Christians,


Salsette Christians

and the urbanized section

1891 population

In 1891 the population was estimated by the Bombay East Indian at about 60,000 and this figure was adopted. The list of parishes with population, given in Appendix A, may throw further light on our number as also the census figures. It is an intriguing subject and calls for all the research that can be devoted to it.

NUMBER of East Indians in 1937

The Association represents the East Indian Community which consists of about a hundred thousand souls. This estimate was made by the Editor of the East Indian Standard and was calculated as follows:-

Cavel and Umarkhadi - 3,500

Mazagon and Byculla - 1,000

Mahim, Dadar, Worli and Sion - 6,000

Bandra - 15,000

Kurla - 3,500

Salsette Rural - 35,000

Juhu - 1,000

Santa Cruz - 2,000

Vile Parle - 3,000

Thana - 3,500

Bassein and Virar - 25,000

Kolaba District - 2,000

Total 1,00,500


The language of the bulk of the people was the local Marathi dialect. Among the educated classes English was the home speech. These too, though Indians in essentials had taken to Europeanized manners and the men like other Indians with English education dress in the European fashion. Some East Indian women, who adopted European costumes are reverting to t he more graceful sari. The customs of the bulk of the people can be gathered from some of the contributions attached. The drink habit had almost disappeared, not only through economic reasons but from a saner conception. Inordinate expenditure on baptisms, marriages and funerals had much diminished, although there was room for reform. There was in 1937 a welcome movement in Bassein in this direction.


The East Indians are the earliest subjects of the British Crown in this country in as much as Bombay by its cession in 1661 was the first foothold the British acquired in India. In the past the Community was in the forefront in the manifestation of its loyalty. This was notably evidenced by the formation, as its own cost, of a militia of a thousand strong, composed of the youth and flower of the Community in connection with the threatened invasion of this country by Napolean Bonaparte from Egypt. For these services the special acknowledgements for the Bombay Government were received in the following Order of Council of 8th April 1806:-

At that time, as stated by the O Patriota, to which reference was made further on, Sir, Miguel de Lima, a British Knight, and his brother Thomas de Souza, and other Native Christians, then (in 1937) East Indians from the highest to the lowest, the very cultivators and toddy drawers included, identified their interest with those of Government by voluntary lenders of money, while other classes remained in the back ground. A document in the reign of King George III was extant granting the rank of Captain in the Mahim Division of the Militia to Mr. Pascoal DeMello of Dadar.

This loyalty had been maintained to [1937 ]. The following account of recent military services in the Great War, the Afghan War and the Waziristan Campaign from 1914 to 1922 was taken from correspondence in the local Press.

Contribution as soldiers in the British Indian Army

Dr. (Captain) W.M.D’Souza who worked as an Indian Medical Service Officer on active service, wrote that nearly 60 percent of the then medical men of the East Indian Community – Civil and Military Assistant Surgeons, Sub-Assistant Surgeons and Private Practitioners – volunteered for military services and served as Officers in the Indian Medical Service and other medical services at various fronts, one of whom, Dr. Ben Athaide, obtained the Military Cross for service at the Waziristan front. A fair percentage of East Indian engineers also served on the Royal Naval Transports and other engineering sections in danger zones, and here an engineer, Mr. C. Rodricks, in a transport lost his life at sea due to enemy action.

The Community can also count many others, in numbers running into a few thousands, who volunteered into other branches of services connected with t he late wars, such as the Defence Force, Railways Railways, Erabarkation, Postal, Labour Corps and so on and who were admitted as officers, non-commissioned officers, combatants and non-combatants and who had seen active service on various fronts in and out India, Dr. D’Souza came across a batch of about 200 East Indians from Bassein in the Labour Corps in Waziristan on the front and others were on other fields of activity on the frontiers during the last Afghan War. There was no regiment in India where East Indians are allowed solely as combatants and many who volunteered could not be admitted.

Names of defence forces doctors and para-medics from the community

The following was a list of East Indian Medical Men who rendered active service on the field or other service in connection with the Great War, the Afghan War and the Waziristan Campaign:-

In the I.M.S. (Indian Medical Service) – Drs. Almeida, R.A.M.C.; Ben Athaide. M.B.B.S, I.M.S., M.C.(War Casualty); Lionel Bocarro, F.R.C.S.; Fidelis Concessio, L.M.&S.; William M. D’souza. L.M.&S. (War Casualty); Philip D’Mello, M.R.C.P.&S.; F. Gonsalves, L.M.&S. (War Casualty); J.F. Henriques, L.M.&S.; Manoel Miranda, L.M.&S.; Joseph Augustine Pereira, L.M.&S.; Victor Rozario, M.B.B.S.; Wilfred Valladares, M.B.B.S.

In the I.M.D. (Indian Medical Department) – Drs. Lawrie D’Cruz, Edward D’Silva, Arthur Gomes, Valentine Gomes, Valentine Fernandes (killed in the battle of Ctesiphon, 1915; mentioned in Despatches) Lewis Rodrigues.

With reference to this list Mr. F.D. Melton, a Sergeant in the Auxiliary Force, India stated that the names of those who had served in one or the other units of the Indian Defence Force should be added. This Force, a war time measure constituted in April 1917from the then existing Volunteer Corps and disbanded in September 1920, received a first rate military training as it was intended for garrison duty in India. There were several men of the East Indian Community in the 35th Poona Battalion of the Force in which Mr. Melton served and also some from the Bombay Battalion of the Force who did three to six months garrison duty at the Ghorpuri Barracks in Poona. Many others served in the G.I.P and B.B. & C.I. Railway Battalions of this Force in Bombay and its neighbourhood and were employed in manufacturing munitions in the Workshops of the two Railways.

Mr. Alexius Manuel Pereira of Bandra who had served during the Boxer Rebellion in China as Post Master was in Mesopotamia during the Great War in the same capacity. He had also served as Postal Clerk to the British Legation in Abyssinia. Mr. John Rodrigues, then (in 1937) Personal Assistant (Engineering) to the Post Master General, Punjab served in the last Afghan War in charge of telegraphic communications.

Besides, several men of influence including the [1937 ]President of the Association. Dr.D.A. De Monte and Mr. Caesar D’Mello then (in 1937) President of the Vile Parle Municipality Dr. Edmund Almeida of Thana and their wives and not a few other ladies were engaged in the War Charities Organizations. Dr. Peter Rodrigues was employed in the War Hospital Dadar. Some, and among them Mr. John De Mello, received the commemorative medal issued by the Government of India for valuable services in connection with the War.” A good number of East Indian men continue to work in the Auxiliary Force, India and had at certain times assisted to quell the riots in the City of Bombay. In the second Great War Loan the then President of East Indian Association, Mr. P.A. Baptista collected a sum of Rs.1,30,000 to help the Allies to win the War. For this Bombay cordially thanked the Association, Dr. Peter Rodrigues during his membership of the War Loan Committee collected three lakhs. I recall these facts to show East Indian sustained fealty to the State.


Education, specially primary in Salsette and Bassein was in a deplorable condition in 1937 . An illuminating account of the remedial measures adopted was given in the Report of the East Indian Association published in 1905. The Primary Schools of the East Indian Association, then existing, were eight in number located at Papdi, Bandra, Andher, Marol, Malwani and Olnai and a Girls School at Thana. In the Boys School at Papdi, Sanskrit was taught in addition to English and Marathi, the Girls School was an English Teaching School. The Schools at Papdi and Thana received grants-in-aid from Government. In January 1903 the edifice in front of the Papdi Church raised by the patriotic munificence of Mr. Thomas Baptista was formally handed over to the East Indian Association for the use of its school.

In commemoration of the event the East Indian Association received three Government Promissory Notes for Rs. 100 each from the Revd. Braz D.De Monte and Messrs Thomas Baptista and Joseph Augustine De Chaves for the endowment of prizes to be awarded to the pupils of the School. A magnificent episode, but may it not be matched by the previous encouraging, exemplication of self help mentioned in the Report for 1898 in which it was mentioned that the Members of the Papdi School Board deserve much praise for their zeal in endeavouring to erect a school house for which they succeeded in obtaining Rs. 1,700. These though very important are isolated instances culled from the meager records. The Schools were supported by subsidies from the public which taking an average of a dozen years from 1898 to 1913 gives an amount of Rs,1,000 and more.

Besides be it noted that patriotic members of the East Indian Community made the sacrifice of giving subscriptions month by month. The same Report proudly proclaims that as it was represented that no schools for girls existed in Bassein neither the Government not the Municipality having directed their attention to this important measure the East Indian Association sanctioned the establishment in 1903 of a Girls School in the building presented by Mr. Thomas Baptista to the School at Papdi. Influenced by the endeavours of the East Indian Association Government established in 1910 two Special Schools for East Indians, one at Manori in Salsette and the other at Manikpur in Bassein which continue to function.

As measures for the extension of education were in course of time more seriously considered by Local Residents by Government, by Municipal and Local Boards and the Ecclesiastical Authorities, the East Indian Association Schools were gradually closed down. The latest instances are the transfer in 1932 to the Archdiocese of the Papdi School, which was the Catholic High School for Basssein and more recently the Girls School at Thana was discontinued in order to allow of the improvement of the Parochial School at that place in the interest of the local Catholics.

The encouragement of higher education was vigorously championed by the East Indian Association through persistent propaganda in the Bombay East Indian. A striking illustration of the efforts made was demonstrated in the Report of the East Indian Association for the years 1899, 1900 and 1901. It was stated that the attention of the East Indian Association was drawn towards the close of the year 1900 to a paragraph in the Annual Report of St.Xavier's College, Bombay. The authorities deplored the apathy of the Catholic Community of Bombay in regard to higher education and the paucity of Catholic students in the College Division. The East Indian Association accordingly at its meeting of 20th December 1900 carefully considered this matter and devised some practical measures for including East Indian people to avail themselves of the education imparted in the College. The East Indian Association also invited the co-operation of the East Indian Clergy to impress upon their flocks the advisability of extending higher education as their co-operation and influence would be valuable. It was added that the East Indian Association while gratefully acknowledging the efforts made by the Jesuit Fathers of Bombay to improve the status of the Catholic Community, trusted that the East Indian Community would endeavour to march with the times and to keep pace with non-Christian communities by their endeavour to benefit by University education.

In 1937 there was a sufficiency of higher education amongst East Indian men and women. A significant example was that the East Indians had six lady M.A.’s namely, Miss Violet Baptista, Mrs. Bridget Rodrigues, Miss Rita Misquitta, Miss Marjorie Ferreira, Miss Josephine Lima and Miss Gladys De Monte.

The East Indians had a good number of graduates in the community in the different classes, of medical men and women – of those who had passed in law – and of priest Dr. D.A. De Monte had been a Fellow of the University of Bombay for two score years and more and was then (in 1937) the only East Indian representative. At one time he was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. His brother the late Monsignor Brax De Monte was also on the Senate of the university. Considering their numerical strength East Indian people can hold their own vis-a-vis other communities in the highest post for which intellectual attainment are needed.

What was more required then (in 1937) was the extension of technical education. As regards this it was gratifying to note that the Antonio Da Silva School at Dadar had established a class in typography and printing and steps are being taken to open classes in carpentry and tailoring, forerunners of what was to come in the near future.

Safety First” was education and it will be of interest to note that the first School Safety Patrol was inaugurated not long ago at the Anotnio Da Silava High School, Dadar, Bombay, by Mr. C.H.Reynolds. Deputy Commissioner of Police. The patrol trained by Mr. A.S. Trollip of the Safety First Association of India can be seen on duty any school day at the School. It had been adopted by the Principal , Mr. J. S. Pereira the Secretatry of East Indian Association as a permanent feature of the School’s activities. The precision in which the patrols work makes one wonder why other schools had not adopted this enjoyable method of instruction. In leaving and approaching the School the students are directed by the patrol selected from the older boys. Eight hundred and fifty students cross the three-way junction outside the School every day, morning and evening. According to the Joint General Secretary of the Safety First Association of India the School had become a model for other schools to follow.


With the change in the appellation of the Community [from Portuguese Christian to East Indian] it was from the very beginning rightly considered that there should be a Hall as a permanent memorial of the East Indian Association and a constant reminder for the furtherance of its objects. Mr. Joseph Bocarro was in charge of the project. He worked with all earnestness. At almost every East Indian gathering he pleaded for funds for the Hall and in every Annual Report a paragraph was devoted to judicate the outcome. In the last published Report in 1920 it was stated that the amount collected was Rs. 4466.

With the accruing interest the sum then (in 1937) available will probably be Rs.6000. Further delay would mean increased accumulation, but it was felt that the time for the fruition of the project should not exceed half a century. Through the munificence of Dr.D.A.De Monte an Est Indian Hall had been established in conjunction with the Bandra Gymkhana. Nevertheless the East Indian Association will consider the disposal of its undertaking without further procrastination.


The services of Mr. Joseph Bocarro were so highly appreciated that his name appeared in 1911 in the first batch of Companions of the Imperial Service Order published in this country. About a decade afterwards the same distinction was conferred on Mr. J.B. De Silva and Mr. John De Mello. The former was given an addition the Membership of the Order of the British Empire which was also conferred on Mr. A.F.D’Abreo of J.J. Hospital, Bombay.

Around 1936 or 1937 Dr. P.F.Gomes the first President was honoured by His Holiness the Pope with the Kinghthood of St. Gregory the Great. Compartively [in the 1930s], Dr. D.A.De Monte was created a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great and Mr. D.J. Ferreira a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Sylvester, Miss Lily Baptista ws awarded the papal decoration of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.

The East Indians had a fair proportion of Justices of the Pope in Bombay City as will be found from Appendix H. The East Indian Association in the beginning made repeated and determined representations and successfully too to secure this distinction for members of the East Indian Community as it tended to raise its social status.

East Indians had also been represented on the Benches of Magistrates as will be seen from Appendix I.

Three of East Indian most respected Priests were made Domestic Chamberlains to the Pope namely, Monsignors Braz De Monte, J.C. D’Mello and D. Remedios. There were great rejoicings and addresses were presented to them by the East Indian Association on 4th January 193. Monsignor Remedios was the solitary survivor.

In the year 1907 the East Indian Association represented that the East Indian Community had u to then no representative in the Judiciary of the was Presidency. Again in October 1909, when there was a temporary vacancy the East Indian Association suggested the appointment of Mr. Frank Oliveira. It was with much gratification that the East Indian Association and the Community learnt that Mr. Oliveira was appointed Acting Presidency Magistrate. Having filled this post with great credit temporarily four or five times, Mr. Oliveira was eventually raised permanently to the Magisterial Bench. The expectations then formed were happily realized to the full. As was well known he went up to the top-most rung and retired as Chief Presidency Magistrate with unqualified commendation from Government, the Judiciary and the Public. Mr. E.C.Henriques was appointed Consulting Architect to Government.

Coming down to [the 1930s]it will be remembered with gratitude that Government appointed Mr. Edwin Baptista to be Registrar of the Small Causes Court, Mr. Leo Rodrigues, Administrator General, Mr. J.F.Pereira, Chief Accountant, Bombay Port Trust, and Mr. J.B.Fernandes, successively as Under Secretary Oriental Translator and Secretary to the Public Services Commission. These appointments tend to enhance the prestige of East Indian Community.


The first journal amongst the East Indians was the O Patriota. It was edited by Mr.V.L.Da Silva. Intended to be published monthly, it had to be issued intermittently during the year from 1860 to 1882. Mr. Da Silva was employed in the Bombay High Court and retired with a pension before his time to take up the responsible position of a journalist. He was an able and vigorous exponent of the cause of his people and wrote in fluent English, three quarters of a century ago, hardly excelled by the writers of East Indian succeeding generations. He fully upheld his aim as stated in his first issue:-

This class (Native Christians, then (in 1937) East Indians) undoubtedly as a far superior claim on the consideration of Government having in bygone days been the real source of security and strength to Government, and the East Indians were not aware of any other class equally entitled to consideration for equally substantial service rendered by their ancestors.”

Mr. Da Silva died in 1882 at the age of 68 years. The Times of India of 24th November 1882 contained the following obituary notice:-

The Native Portuguese Community (then (in 1937) East Indian) had sustained a great loss in the death of Mr. Vincent Da Silva the editor of a Portuguese and English periodical, known as the O Patriota. The deceased was a warm supporter of the cause of his fellow countrymen, both in the columns of his paper and in various other ways and his death wil be greatly felt by those who received the benefit of his warm advocacy.”

The inscription on his tomb stone in the church yard of East Indian Lady of Salvation, Lower Mahim reads:

A benefactor and patriot by character, he fought for the good of his countrymen even at the sacrifice of his own interest. This parish in loving recognition of his services dedicates this grave and tombstone to his memory.”

Five years later in 1887, following the establishment of the Goan journal, the Anglo-Lusitano, Mr. M.F.Azavedo of Matharpacady started an East Indian Weekly Paper and in imitation of the the O Patriota named it the Indian Patriot. This was edited by Dr. Montgomery. In the following year it was taken over by the East Indian Association and called the Bombay East Indian as significant of the change in the designation of the Community. It was edited for fourteen years by Mr. John De Mello. In the beginning there was a Revisionary Committee consisting of Dr. L.P.Gomes and Messrs L.M.Valladares, Felix Leao, J.D.D’Almeida, J.L.Britto, Joseph Bocarro and the Editor. The leaders of the Community were so enthusiastic as to form an East Indian joint stock company to carry on the Paper. Among the Directors were Messrs. Gaspar Gonsalves, M.C.Pereira, L.M.Valladares, Francis Valladares, D.F. D’Almeida and Felix Leaom, all then (in 1937) deceased. The last three attended the Press almost daily and rendered honorary service for about ten years. The venture did not prove a financial success. During the two final years the East Indian Association made large subsidies to the Press. On the winding up of the joint stock company the East Indian Association in 1901 took up the management of the Press. This it was enabled to do by most of the shareholders patriotically surrendering their shares to it.

This plan could not be worked up and at the end of the year the Press was handed over to Mr.J.J.D’Abreo who magnanimously undertook to conduct it on his responsibility as the organ of the East Indian Association. Mr. J.L.Britto, the Secretary of the East Indian Association was the Editor from 1902 for about a score of years. Then came Mr. Jos Alex dias, B.A. B.Sc, L.L.B., Solicitor, at that time Secretary of the East Indian Association for about two years. The last issue of the Paper was on 28th March 1923. The able advocacy by the Bombay East Indian of measures for the amelioration of East Indian people was from time to time acknowledged by the East Indian Association as in truth the journal deserved. Without it the East Indian Association would not had had the remarkable success it had during the first half of its existence.

During the currency of the Bombay East Indian a monthly journal styled the Bombay Watchman, was printed and published from May 1911 to April 1916 by Mr. J.B.Fernanades son-in-law OF Mr. Hermenegild Ferreira. It was practically edited by the son of the latter, Mr. Thomas Ferreira, Messrs Caesar D’Mello, Anselm Crasto and Braz D. D’Mello (all three from Andheri), Augustine Baptista, Stephen M. Pereira and his nephew Clement Pereira B.A. (all three from Bassein), M.F.D’Souza (Dadar), J.F.Pereira, B.A., Stephen D’Mello, Rev Paul Fernandes and Rev. Hermenegild F. Mendes, B.A. helped by literary or financial contributions or both. The object of the journal was mainly to advocate the abolition of the Portuguese Padroado.

Mr.A.V.Misquitta B.A. the first Indian to be elected a Member of the Journalists Institute, London, published for some months in 1923 the Thana District Gazette where the grievances of the East Indians of North Salsette and Bassein and the Thana District generally were ventilated.

After this the Community had no journal till January 1925 when the East Indian Herald was published monthly. It was edited by Mr. Jos Alex Dias, and the role of its predecessor, the Bombay East Indian, was ably maintained. The Publisher was Mr. H.R.J.Athaide, B.A. The journal which continued for about two years, owed much to Mr. P.A.Baptista.

Two years after the East Indian Herald ceased publication the Standard came into existence in April 1929. It was then (in 1937) the only East Indian journal. It was edited by Mr. A.V.Misquitta and published fortnightly under the style of the East Indian Standard and it continues to be the exponent of the East Indian Association. Full particulars will be found in the paragraph relating to the East Indian Federation.

The Sentinel, an independent paper, was edited by Messrs. Jos Alex Dias, Solicitor and J.W. Gomes Bar-at-Law, from September 1929 to December 1931 and then singly by Mr.Dias up to December 1931. It provided for the expression of the other side of the question.

Immediately after the Sentinel in September 1930 came the weekly East Indian, which may be well described as the Thunderer of the great leader, Mr. Joseph Baptista. It had to close in September 1930 on Mr. Baptista’s premature death. The last issue was a fitting memorial of the departed Editor. Messrs. Caesar D’Mello of Andheri and Messrs Hermenegild Ferreira, Thomas Ferreira and Remy Crasto were the principal helpers of this journal.

The Rally from May 1930 to November 1931 was another independent monthly venture started by Mr. P.A.Baptista with the assistance of Mr. John De Mello as Editor and Mr. C.C.M. Mendes as Manager.

The [in the 1930s] started Shodh and Bodh in Marathi at a subscription of annas twelve a year was devoted to the cultural and spiritual advancement of East Indians and was supported by the East Indian clergy. There were 350 East Indian subscribers.


It was an essential part of East Indian history in the [1887-1937] and indeed the East Indian Association made vigorous efforts in the beginning to obtain a single ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

Already before the advent of the East Indian Association a representation was made by the leaders of the Community in April 1885 for the removal of the double jurisdiction by the abolition of the Padroado. The East Indian Association itself addressed representations to the same purpose to the Delegate Apostolic in India in December 1888 and November 1889. Briefly the arguments used were that a unified jurisdiction as suggested would be in the interest of East Indian Church and beneficial to all people, politically, socially and educationally.

After an interval of the thirty years the Catholics of Bassein rose up against the Padroado in 1921 and 1922. They held eight meetings in different parishes at which the inhabitants attended en masse. The Basseinites, who gave unstinted help merit reverent remembrance. They were Messrs Michael C. D’Souza from Colaba, Ventur Domingo D’Almeida from Nirmal, Gabriel D’Mello, Ignatius Julian Pereira, Augustine Baptista, S.M. Pereira and Phillip J. Noronha from Papdi and Sylvester Dinda (Luis) Correa from Nandakal. The last four with Mr. Hermenegild Ferreira went in a deputation to make a representation t the Delegate Apostolic at Kandy his then headquarters and the expenses of the journey were borne by Messrs Sylvester Dinda Correa and Phillip J. Noronha. The late Monsignor J.C.M. D’Mello, Rev. Paul Fernandes and Rev. Hermenegild Mendes also rendered useful assistance. It may be noted that already in 1916 the East Indian secular priests had petitioned the Holy See against the Evils of a Double Jurisdiction”.

As some persons of the Community thought it advisable that the status quo should in the prevailing circumstances be maintained, action, inspired by the movement in Bassein, was thereafter taken independently of the initiative of the East Indian Association in order to preserve the unity of that body in other respects. On the 21st May 1922 a meeting unusually large and representative of the East Indian Catholics of Bombay , Salsette and Bassein was held at Andheri. Mr.Jos Alex Dias who was then the Secretary of the East Indian Association made his mark I a comprehensive exposition of the different aspects of the case, historical, political, ecclesiastical and topical. The meeting unequivocally declared for the withdrawal of the Portuguese Patronage.

A Standing Committee of 125 persons from different districts of the East Indian homelands was formed with Dr. Edmund D’Almeida of Thana as Chairman and Messrs Caesar D’Mello of Andheri, Jos Alex Dias, Joseph M. Almeida and J.B.C. Noronha as Honorary Secretaries. The proceedings of the meeting were fully described in a pamphlet East Indian Catholics of Bombay, Salsette and Bassein, 1922” and details of another important gathering in September 1925 at Papdi, Bassein in Padroado Agitation, Past and Present” published in that year. Besides those already enumerated Messrs. Anselm F.Crasto (Andheri) C.C.M. Mendes and Louis Rodricks and Dr.Valentine M. Pereira (Bassein) rendered valuable assistance.

With a singleness of purpose the protagonists for seven years did everything that was possible. There was an untiring propaganda. Meetings of the East Indian Catholics were held in different parts of Salsette and Bassein. Speeches eloquent with earnestness, were delivered. The powerful aid of the Press was invoked. The Catholic Members of Parliament both in the Commons and Lords. English prelates and eminent English Catholics as Mr.G.K.Chesterton and Mr. Hilaire Belloc were approached. The assistance of an English Catholic millionaire Sir. S.A.Coats, who could approach the Minister in the Imperial Government was sought and cordially given. Representations were sent to the Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs and for India, the British Minister at the Vatican, the Governor of Bombay, the Viceroy, the Roman Congregations and in fact to all authorities concerned. In addition to this unceasing work, which fell on the devoted band of workers, they gave from their pockets and with much sacrifice the financial assistance that was required, one gentleman Mr. Basil Francis Gomes, contributing a munificent donation of Rs.2000.

The sympathy of the Bombay Government was also enlisted. This was evidenced by thefact that a communiqué was issued through the Director of Information on 14th May 1928 officially announcing the abolition of the Padroado.

Of course rejoicings at public gatherings of East Indians followed. The most notable was at Papdi in Bassein when Mr. Heremenegild Ferreira who presided at the meeting received an enthusiastic ovation. The honour well deserved for he with the scholarly assistance of his son Mr. Thomas Ferreira was the mainspring of the movement and his unfailing endeavours sustained the struggle till victory was won.

POLITICS in the 1930s

Loyal addresses were unfailingly sent by the East Indian Association to the Sovereign, the Viceroy, the Governor of Bombay and important personages on what may be termed political occasions” Dr. D.A. De Monte was nominated by Government to the old Bombay Legislative Council. He was the first East Indian Member and served from 1911 to 1916. Subsequently Messrs Frank Oliveira and D.J.Ferreira were appointed. Mr. Joseph Baptista also entered the Council and the Central Legislative Assembly. In the new political reforms there were two Indian Christian constituencies with which East Indians were concerned. One was for Bombay City and other for Bombay Suburban District, Salsette, Thana and Bassein. The latter provides an easy seat for East Indians as it was within the area of their homelands and they form the majority of the electors. In the first election held last year a distinguished East Indian, Mr. D.J.Ferreira was returned unopposed. He was the nominee of the East Indian Association and his case was a pointed illustration of the collective security afforded by a corporate body.


East Indians had pulled their full weight in the Municipal and Local Board Councils within their territorial limits. These local governing bodies were the Municipalities of Bombay, Bandra, Vile Parle, Juhu, Thana, Kurla, Bassein, Uran and Korlai and the Notified Area of Kandivli, the then (in 1937) dissolved Notified Areas of Andheri and Santa Cruz, the Taluka Local Boards, North Salsette and Bassein and the District Local Boards of Thana and Bombay Suburban Districts.

The names of [1937 ]East Indian Municipal and Local Board Councils were given in Appendix J. It may here be noted that Dr. D.A.De Monte was for many years a Member of the Municipal Corporation of Bombay, first by election and then by nomination of Government. Messrs D.F.Leao and J.L.Britto were also nominated and Dr.A.F.Henriques for two terms continuously. Mr. Joseph Baptista was elected President of the Bombay Municipal Corporation and it was made an occasion for a grand East Indian demonstration of jubilation. Mr. Caesar D’Mello of Andheri was Chairman there, President of the District Local Board, Bombay Suburban Area, and was then (in 1937) President of the Vile Parle municipality. Dr. P.A.Dias was thePresident of the Bandra Municipal Board and was then (in 1937) holding that honourable position for the third time in succession.

Mr. Ignatius De Monte, Mr. Leo Rodrigues, Dr. D.A. De Monte and Professor J.F.R. D’Almeida were previously the Presidents . Mr. J.B.C.Noronha was the first East Indian Vice President of the Taluka Local Board, North Salsette and was then (in 1937) the President. And it may be noted that in Bassein the late Mr. Phillip Noronha was Member of the Municipality, the Taluka Local Board and the District Local Board, Dr. Valentine. A.M.Pereira a Vice President of East Indian Association, was Member of the Municipality, the Very Rev.P.J.D’Lima had also been a Member and was then (in 1937) Chairman of the Dispensary Committee. Rev Paul Fernandes had also been in the Sukkur Municipality for six years. Mr. David Daniel Rodrigues had been a Member of the Kurla Municipality for seventeen years and Chairman and Vice-President for six years. Mr. J.S.Pereira was President and a Member for many years.

As an example from the past it may be noted that the Report for the years 1902, 1903 and 1904 states that the Managing Committee took special interest in the municipal elections in some East Indians and also addressed a representation to the Collector of Thana submitting the names of some persons as well qualified to serve on Local Boards. These efforts met with a certain measure of success.

See also

The Bombay East Indian Association

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