Highly respected educationist and intellectual, Advocate Shirishkumar Mayanchand Modi who was long-standing President of the Banaskantha District Kelvani Mandal (BDKM) and was involved in numerous other development initiatives in the city, passed away in Palanpur on September 25, 2020. He was 82 and is survived by his wife Pratimaben, his children Anisha, Vipul and Shefali and grandchildren.
Born in 1938, Modi was a prominent citizen of Palanpur, involved in a wide range of activities both in his professional capacity as a leading lawyer, and also through various educational, social, cultural and philanthropic organisations with which he was associated.
Spreading modern education was a passion for Shirishbhai and he was one of the individuals who played a key role in the development of infrastructure for this in Banaskantha, most notably as the driving force behind the BDKM, a large educational trust. BDKM’s development of the vast campus in the city which today caters to over 7,000 students across the faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce, Law, Home Science, Fine Arts, etc. laid the basis for Palanpur to emerge as a key educational hub in North Gujarat.
Welcoming Shri Vijaybhai Rupani, C M of Gujarat on the occcasion
of Republic Day celebration at Vidyamandir in 2019
In addition, Shirishbhai also diligently served as the Chairman of the Local Committee of Vidyamandir Trust for over four decades, participating in planning and execution of various programmes and being personally involved in the selection and mentoring of staff among other roles.
In fulfilling both these important responsibilities, Shirishbhai forged close links between Palanpur and Mumbai, and between 2 generations of Palanpuris spread across different parts of the world, facilitating their involvement in the development of educational and other social institutions in the city.
A well-known advocate, Shirishbhai went on to establish his own successful practice at the District as well as High Court and was well known across the state. He was elected to the prestigious position of Chairman of the Bar Council of Gujarat in the years 1999 and 2001.
Shirishbhai also served as the President of the local Municipality for two terms of 5 years each between 1970 and 1980 during which time he was instrumental in implementing a number of developmental projects.
Condloence Meeting for Late Shirishbhai Modi
at Shashivan, Palanpur on Oct 2, 2020
Besides this, he was closely involved in the cultural and literary activities of the city, be it the running of the Victoria Library, the functioning of the King George V Club and as an active member of the Rotary Club of Palanpur for a very long period. Modi also organised innumerable landmark cultural events and mushairas, worked closely with the well-known ghazalkars of Palanpur and helped the Kanubhai Mehta Sanskrutik Bhavan in Vidyamandir, emerge as a centre for educational and cultural programmes in the city today.
In addition to his participation in various organisations, Modi was a man of great intellect, steadfast integrity and a truly multifaceted personality. He has been described as “not only an exceptional advocate, but an avid reader, with a keen interest in literature, music and art. So thorough and vast was his reading that he could have an in-depth discussion with anyone on topics ranging from K M Munshi to William Wordsworth to Beethoven!”
On October 2, a condolence meeting for Shirishbhai was held along with a programme to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Shashivan. The meeting was addressed by his family members, dignitaries from the city and officials of Vidyamandir and other Trusts such as Dr Girishbhai Thakker and Dr M.V. Hathi, both former Campus Directors of G.D. Modi Vidyasankul, Dr Hasmukh Modi, Director Vidyamandir, Shailesh Mehta representing the Local Non-Academic Committee of Vidyamandir and others. Participation was limited due to the restrictions on public gathering during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the live telecast of the meeting which was streamed online on Vidyamandir’s YouTube channel had over 3,500 viewers who paid tributes online.
Excerpts from some of the Tributes paid to Shirishbhai M Modi in a special issue published by Swarajya:
“Shirishbhai was one of those unique personalities who leave a special and permanent mark on society. He was closely involved in the spread of education at the school and college level and guided a large number of local trusts and organisations in their social work and endeavours. He introduced many reforms when he was the head of the Palanpur Municipality.
Though he was a very senior advocate he was always ready to share knowledge and give advice to the juniors. He had two special other interests - Literature and History and was a scholar who was fluent in both Gujarati and English.
He was an institution in himself and Palanpur has lost a dedicated social worker, a reputed advocate and an outstanding personality.”
Dr. Vikram Mehta Chairman, BDKM
“Shirishbhai’s absence will be greatly felt by the numerous trusts he was associated with. Palanpur and its institutions will sadly miss this upright individual who passionately worked for the cause of the town and its people.”
Ashish K. Mehta Managing Trustee, Vidyamandir
“I have been closely associated with Shirishbhai for over 50 years, and not a single trip to Palanpur was ever complete without spending an evening having a lively discussion with him.
No matter how difficult the challenges facing any organisation were, he would always work out a solution. He was the main link between Palanpur and Mumbai, and was present at every function organised by local trusts and organisations, be it related to the schools, colleges or hospitals and was ever willing to help them in every way possible.”
Dr. Kavinbhai Parikh, Chairman Mahajan Hospital
“Shirishbhai was a multifaceted personality - an advocate by profession who was well respected throughout the state, and was also closely involved in development of education, promotion of sports & fitness and a great supporter of Palanpuri literary and cultural artistes and was closely associated with many local social organisations. He was well read in English literature, and also travelled widely, learning a lot about the culture and literature of every country he visited.
Palanpur has lost was a learned, helpful, justice-loving, dedicated worker and a genuine human being.
Dr Deepak Raval, Former Head, MS University, Vadodara
Click here to read the special issue of Swarajya
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