Joseph Baptista

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Joseph Baptista
Kaka Joseph Baptista.jpg
Mayor of Bombay
In office
Personal details
Born(1864-03-17)17 March 1864
Matharpacady, Mazagaon, Bombay
Died18 September 1930 (aged 66)
Resting placeSewri cemetery
ParentJohn Baptista
Alma materUniversity of Bombay
University of Cambridge
OccupationEngineer in the forest department
Known forMayor of Bombay[permanent dead link]
Statue of Joseph Baptista

Joseph "Kaka" Baptista (17 March 1864 – 18 September 1930) was an Indian politician and activist from Bombay (today known as Mumbai), closely associated with the Lokmanya Tilak and the Home Rule Movement. He was the first president of Indian Home Rule League established in 1916. He was elected as the mayor of Bombay in 1925. He was given the title Kaka that means "uncle".

Early life[edit]

Joseph Baptista was born on 17 March 1864 in Matharpacady in Mazagaon, Bombay. His father, John Baptista hailed from Uttan, near Bhayandar. The Baptistas belonged to the East Indian ethnic community.

He completed his early education from St. Mary's School, Mumbai. He then joined the College of Engineering in Pune and later pursued a BA degree in political science from the Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.[1] During this period, he first met Bal Gangadhar Tilak.[citation needed]

Political activism[edit]

In 1901, Baptista joined the Bombay Municipal Corporation, and would be a part of the BMC for the next 17 years. Influenced by the Irish Home Rule movement, Baptista's ideas on an Indian version took root. His ideas deeply influenced Tilak and the two became close associates. He assisted Tilak by launching the Sarvajanik Ganpati (public Ganpati celebrations) to raise nationalistic feelings.[2] In addition, Baptista coined the phrase "Swaraj is my Birthright", that was later made popular by Tilak.[2] In 1916, along with Tilak, Annie Besant founded the Home Rule Movement, with Baptista opening the Belgaum unit.[2] He was also the legal advisor to Lokmanya Tilak.[3] Later he interviewed British Prime Minister David Lloyd George for the British government's views on the Home Rule. In the interview, Baptista gained the impression "that the Cabinet had decided to give India the fullest possible measure of Home Rule without delay."[4]

Baptista was also a practising barrister at the Bombay High Court. One of his most high-profile clients was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, where he demanded an open trial to assure the dignity of fundamental rights.[2] In 1920, founded the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). As a labour leader he took up the cause of mill workers and postmen and other blue collar workers. Although religious, he refused to mix politics and religion refusing to have separate religion-based electorates.[2]

I thoroughly disapprove of separate electorate for Indian Christians in water-tight compartments

In 1925, Baptista was elected as the mayor of the Bombay Municipal Corporation, a post that he occupied for a year.[2]


Baptista died in 1930 and is buried in the Sewri cemetery. The Mazagon Gardens, site of the demolished Mazagaon Fort, near Dockyard Road station is named after him. On 12 October 2008, his tomb at Sewri cemetery was restored with the funds of local MLC Kapil Patil. The ceremony was attended by members of the Bombay Catholic Sabha and Shikshak Bharati, a teacher's organisation.[5]

In 1999, a book on Baptista titled Joseph Baptista: The father of Home Rule in India was released by K R Shirsat at Lalbaug in Mumbai. Through the book, the author hoped that Baptista would be a role model for modern-day youths.[6]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Shirsat, Shirsat (1974). Kaka Joseph Baptista: Father of Home Rule Movement in India. Popular Prakashan. p. 179. ISBN 9788171541348.
  • Shirsat, K.R. Joseph Baptista: The Father of Home Rule in India. 1999.
  • Shirsat, K.R. Speeches and Writings of Kaka Joseph Baptista on the Labour Movement of India. 2000.


  1. ^ "Baptista, Joseph (BPTT895J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Kaka Baptista". East Indian Community. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  3. ^ Deshpande, Swati (22 December 2007). "77,000 judges needed to clear backlog: CJI". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  4. ^ Turner, John (1990). Lloyd George's Secretariat. CUP Archive. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-521-22370-6.
  5. ^ "Christian leaders tombs at Sewri restored". The Times of India. 12 October 2008. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2008.
  6. ^ "Book on Kaka Baptista released". Indian Express. Express Group. 21 May 1999. Retrieved 12 October 2008.

External links[edit]