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David Sassoon’s descendant gifts ` 1.1 lakh to library

mumbai Updated: Apr 16, 2011 01:37 IST
HT Correspondent

Timothy Sassoon, a sixth generation descendant of city philanthropist David Sassoon, donated $2,500 (Rs1.1 lakh) to the 154-year-old David Sassoon Library at Kala Ghoda on Friday morning.

Timothy Sassoon, the great-great-great-grandson of the 19th century Jewish trader, runs a film design company in California, USA, and visited the library and Pune’s Sassoon Hospital, both founded by David Sassoon, as part of his ongoing business trip to India.

“Our past is our identity, and preserving a record of the past is extraordinarily important for the future,” said Sassoon, 54, who was born in London, grew up in USA and had never visited India before. “I did not know what to expect from these institutions (the hospital and library) but they are managed excellently and I believe they deserve our family support.”

The management board of the library received the cheque from Sassoon and intend to keep most of the money as part of its corpus fund and use some of it for restoration of the back garden. “In 1932, David Sassoon came to Bombay for trade and business, and gave back a lot to the city. We are proud that his descendent is following his footsteps by helping this library,” said Vivek Ajgaonkar, president emeritus of the library, who has been supervising the restoration of the main library building that is nearly complete.

Sassoon is the son of David Sassoon’s great-great-grandson Humphery Sassoon, who lived briefly in India during the 1940s as an agronomist. The bulk of the Sassoon family now lives in England, though others are scattered around the world. Timothy Sassoon has three children.

“I am trying to maintain a small library of books on my family at home,” said Sassoon, whose father converted to Christianity in the 1940s. Since his ancestor traded heavily in textiles, Sassoon said he would have liked to visit Mumbai’s old cotton mills. “But I hear they have all been converted into shopping malls,” he said.

Sassoon was made a patron member of the library on Friday, and he plans to return with his family for future visits. “I am sure my small grant will be used well and I hope to make this a long relationship with the library.”