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|June 29, 1998||
Sumati Morarjee, mother of Indian shipping, dies at 91
Sumati Morarjee, the first woman of Indian shipping and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, died in Bombay on Sunday following a cardiac arrest. She was 91.
Daughter-in-law of the founder of Scindia Steam Navigation, Narottam Morarjee, Sumati Morarjee held important responsibilities in the Indian and world shipping scene, which has been traditionally a male bastion.
She was included in the managing agency of the company in 1923 at age 20. Between 1942 and 1946, she was involved in the underground movement for Independence. From 1979 to 1987, she was chairperson of the company, until the government took over the debt-ridden Scindia Steam Navigation. She was later appointed as the chairperson emeritus of the company till 1992.
She became the first woman in the world to head an organisation of ship owners -- Indian National Steamship Owners Association, which was later renamed Indian National Shipowners Association. She was elected as vice-president of the World Shipping Federation, London, in 1970.
Morarjee was also involved in various social activities. She was instrumental, too, in bringing the Sindhis from Pakistan during Partition. She has also been chairperson of the Narottam Morarjee Institute of Shipping.
The Scindia Steam Navigation was taken over in 1987 by the erstwhile Shipping Credit and Investment Corporation of India after the company failed to repay the debts amounting to about Rs 1.4 billion due to the government.
Over the last 11 years, the government agency has sold all the 23 ships that the company owned. Morarjee used to call these ships her daughters.
Various pleas by her to revive Scindia went futile. The company is now left with real estate assets worth about Rs 2 billion.
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