ana Chudasama, this name is well-known to Mumbaikars. Constantly in the limelight, he was the author of the catchy, popular and thought-stimulating banners which appear regularly at Marine Drive which he had been writing for a record-breaking 30 years, a feat which deserves an entry in the Guinness Book of World Record.
I used to stay in Girgaon, south Mumbai, as a child whenever we used to go to Marine Drive there used to be a banner with a message. As a kid, I never understood why that banner catches so much attention of Mumbaikars and it used to become the talk of the town. But now, even I love reading them.
The banner, “Pen is mightier than sword…. Agitate, debate but don’t vandalise” was a very simple yet very meaningful slap to those so-called self-declared custodians of Mumbai. Nana’s banners are not only thought-provoking but they force you to think and reason. Marine Drive banners embedded in satire, puns and humour and a voice of the common man. The banner speaks about the dreams and anguish of the common man; the words reveal feelings of most of the common citizen of this mega city.
Nana, a very high profile yet simple person, gives a sense of belonging to every Mumbaikar and exactly that is what is even seen in his daughter Shaina, they know how important it is to voice for a common man and stay connected to them. Nana’s generation has contributed a lot to the glory of Mumbai city, and they are the legends of their time.
He was conferred with the title of Padma Shri by the then President of India on March 26, 2005, in a splendid inauguration ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi for his contribution towards the welfare of the society as a committed social worker. Nana was the pioneer of the only India based social service organisation Giants International which now has over hundreds of groups existing all over the globe. This organisation was solely started by him with a service to humanity as its main objective. Besides projects done in various fields – Family welfare, Disaster Management programmes during earthquakes, floods, and other Natural calamities, Environmental projects, Support to the differently abled, Medical, Educational and Water Harvesting Projects, he has motivated all the Giants’ members to take up Family Planning programmes in their areas.
In fact, he had introduced Family Planning as the top priority project for Giants and had instituted a number of Awards for Groups achieving the target operations to be carried out in their area. In the past, he had initiated 38,000 family planning operations which are certified. He had also initiated numerous awareness and educational camps in slum areas for Family Planning.
He was from a noted family of the Gondal, Dist. Rajkot, Gujarat. His father, Mansingh Chudasama, was a police commissioner. Nana was second of the three brothers, his elder brother the late Mota Chudasama was a noted businessman, and his younger brother Chota being associated with Air India for many years. Nana after graduation started his career in the early 1950s as an executive in a US petroleum company in Mumbai; he also managed an apartment at Prithviraj Chambers, on Narayan Dabholkar Road in the elite Nepean Sea Road area.
During his term as Sheriff he also started the Forum Against Drugs and Aids and was the President of this centre for the prevention of Drug Abuse and Aids. He was the pioneer in organising Drugs Abuse Awareness, through public support and medical assistance as well as providing cure through a rehabilitation programme. A Hospital for the purpose was founded and named as ‘The Bhardawadi Hospital’ for the cure of Drug addicts. Free Test for HIV are also carried on at the centre and those found HIV+ are given free medicine and counselling. He had also initiated in producing a film on Aids Awareness called ‘Roshini’. Nana was also the president of “I Love Mumbai” which he founded when he was Sheriff of Mumbai. The organisation focuses on the greening, beautification and cleaning of Mumbai. Clean Mumbai, Green Mumbai, had been the slogan coined by Nana, ‘I Love Mumbai’ has been distributing 50,000 free saplings annually, to make Mumbai green and reduce the pollution in the atmosphere. He had taken up a number of projects towards the beautification and cleanliness of the city, the major one being the protection, upkeep and illumination of heritage buildings. In recognition of his achievements in his term as Sheriff, he created history by being the only Sheriff to continue in the office for the second consecutive year 1990.
Mumbai need people like Nana to take care of the city and its people. His services to the welfare of mankind are worth applauding, at the age of 86 too, he was active and concerned about the city until his last breath. His daughter Shaina, a BJP MP too is doing justice to her father’s dreams by serving people under his guidance.
RIP Mumbai man! You will be always missed.