India: Jews greatly contributed to India’s development, says Historian


The Jewish community, through their culture, architecture and arts, has contributed immensely in the development of India, said Pushkar Sohoni, a researcher in Historic Preservation, Islamic Architecture and Indo-Persian Cultural History.

“Since their arrival in India, they have been at the frontiers in bringing development through numerous establishments, hospitals and institutions built in and around Pune, Mumbai and coastal towns in Konkan,” said Sohoni, during a public talk on Jewish heritage structures organised by the Marathi Vidnyan Parishad and Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune, held recently.

Other structures built by the community include Sassoon General Hospital, Nivara Sanstha in Pune, Kala Ghoda and Masheed Bandar in Konkan.

“Notably, their contributions to Marathi language and culture have also been remarkable,” noted Sohoni, a researcher associated with IISER.

Revealing some of the common routes through which this community arrived and settled in India, he said, “Mumbai, Pune, areas in Konkan, Ahmedabad and Karachi were popular settlements for Jews. This is indicated by the excavations that show the presence of crematoriums and places of worship at these places.”

There are 4,500 members of this community in Maharashtra. Synagogues, schools, libraries, warehouses, cotton mills run by Jew entrepreneurs, statues and other public utility buildings all portray typical Jewish architecture.

“Their descendants later became divided into three communities, namely Kochi, Bagdadi and Bene Israel, who were more closely associated with the local Maharashtrians,” he explained.