The former Sheriff and Mayor of Mumbai, Nana Chudasama, who breathed his last on 23 December 2018, was an eminent jurist and civic activist who espoused several causes dear to his heart, and was hailed as the ‘conscience keeper’ of Mumbai. Born in Saurashtra in the Gondal District of Rajkot, Nana after completing his graduation, first joined a US-based petroleum company. His father Mansinh Chudasama was a Police Commissioner, and his elder brother, the late Mota Chudasama was a businessman, while his younger sibling Chhota Chudasama worked with the national carrier, Air India. During his long and eventful journey through life Nana remained wedded to the social cause, and founded and nurtured a number of institutions that catered to various sections of the society and undertook development projects that benefited a wide cross-section of the people.

Nana Chudasama who had been a member of social organisations like Lions and Rotary Clubs, founded Giants International, an NGO, which from its humble beginnings rose to great heights and had 500 branches across the country, and was also represented in countries like UK, USA, South Africa, Mauritius and Ukraine. Giants undertook projects in spheres like family welfare, disaster management, education and environment. Among the successful endeavours undertaken was the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of the tragic Bhuj earthquake.

During his tenure as the Sheriff of Mumbai Nana Chudasama launched an initiative titled ‘ I love Mumbai’, and undertook an extensive campaign which aimed at greening, beautification, and cleaning of Mumbai city. Much before the launching of the Swachh Bharat Mission by the government, Nana’s volunteers conducted various programmes including plant shows, and promoted tree planting campaigns. He also had a habit of gifting free saplings to people in an effort to spread the message emphasising the need for a green Mumbai. Nana’s contribution to Mumbai’s socio-economic and cultural life was of a high order. and elicited fulsome praise from the city’s citizens.

Mumbaikars would have noticed a prominent banner at Marine Drive in the city which for several decades displayed pithy and succinct messages, and was a virtual commentary on issues concerning the state of Maharashtra and the rest of the country as well. While there was no malice, the banners were appreciated for their sarcasm laced with satire. These banners were later reproduced in the form of a book titled  Nana Chudasama’s History on a banner, compiled and edited by Meera Nanda.

The relentless crusader was also associated with multifarious organisations and was at different points of time the President of the Forum Against Drugs & AIDS (founded by him), Chairperson of the National Kidney Foundation, Founder President, Common Man’s Forum (formed to safeguard the interests of the common man), National President of Jaycees and the Indo-American Society.

Nana Chudasama was honoured with several awards during his lifetime and was also the recipient of the Padma Shri conferred on him by the Government of India. His wife Munira, a double graduate, worked as a banker before embarking on a career as a fashion designer. She was a pillar of support to Nana in all his activities in the social spectrum. Nana’s daughter Shaina N.C. took after her mother and is a popular fashion designer besides being a spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Nana is also survived by a son Akshaya, who is a lawyer, and another daughter Brinda. Although he rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty of the land, Nana Chudasama never hankered after power or pelf, and one of his traits worth emulating was the way he treated king and commoner alike, and made no distinctions in his relationship with people from various walks of life. Nana was also known for his terrific sense of humour, and was the life and soul of every gathering he was a part of. In his demise the city of Mumbai has lost one of its most vibrant personalities, and the country a committed social worker and activist.

C.V. Aravind is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist.