Yusuf Meherally (September 23, 1903 – July 2, 1950) was in the vanguard of India’s struggle for independence. The founder of National Militia and the Bombay Youth League, he played a leading role in peasants’ organisations and trade unions. He was imprisoned eight times during the freedom movement. It was during his stint in Lahore jail that he was elected the mayor of Bombay in 1942. The ‘Quit India’ slogan coined by him was adopted by Gandhiji for India’s final Nationwide campaign for independence. One of the founders of the Congress Socialist Party, Yusuf Meherally wrote, “I hate ugliness and cruelty and that is why I am a socialist. My socialism is based on aesthetic and ethical premises and not on Economics.” A voracious reader and a connoisseur of arts, he himself was a writer of a couple of books and had founded a journal.
In the words of late Dr. Zakir Hussain, the Vice President of India, who formally inaugurated Yusuf Meherally Centre in 1965, “It was the primaeval sorrow of Man for what Men do to each other, knowingly or unknowingly, which moved him and not any idea of a more efficient and a more utilitarian organisation of industry and economy.”
“This sorrow could have made him a philosopher, a man of religion or a poet. Yusuf Meherally was more fortunate. It made him into a friend. His gift for friendship struck all who came into contact with him and it made his concern for them something deeply inspiring.”