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Chevalier-IX-Pereira-1888-1951

The success story of F.X.Pereira of Tuticorin who went to Colombo and established business in 1889 and won the laurels of many islanders as well as Europeans including the British Governor and his wife Lady Ridgeway, has been briefly told in this web already.

F.X.Pereira who founded the business house F.X. PEREIRA and Sons passed away in Tuticorin in 1906, leaving the business to be tended by his sons. However the mantle of captaining and steering the business fell on the slender shoulders of I.X.PEREIRA , the eldest son, who was barely 18 at the time of taking over.

Chevalier-IX-Pereira-1888-1951
In his hands, business flourished so well in different fields like Shipping agencies, Manufacturing, Insurance , General stores etc that he was aptly called the Midas from Tuticorin, who turned everything Gold. Whatever business he launched into showered him with abundance.

The secret of this splendid success in business was attributed to the unbelievable unity among brothers; straight dealings ;his abundant kindness to his subordinates, and his affection and love for his fellow beings —especially for those who were in need and who were in suffering .

A few who were earthly, attributed the phenomenal success to his stocky and impressive physical frame immaculate dress and matching moustache he sported.

I.X. Pereira’s love for his business was matched with his love for human beings in general. Particularly, he was touched by the suffering conditions of Indian Tamils who were at the mercy of colonial estate masters and British business houses.

To provide succor and support, relief and hope, to Indian Tamils he turned his attention to Politics . With the equation he had developed through his business with the British officers. Government and Sinhala leaders he took up the petty causes of Indian Tamils personally to British bureaucracy and succeeded in getting them resolved initially without much noise and fanfare. Such helping attitude slowly won the admiration of Indian Tamils and he slowly emerged as a leader among the Tamils.

In 1924, when he was hardly 36 years old, he stood in the election for the legislative council in the seat reserved for Indians and won hands down defeating his Indian rival by a huge majority, and entered the Legislative council as a first member among the two Indians elected. As a member of the council, he fought many a battle on behalf of Indians on negotiating tables. Later he was nominated as a member of state council from 1931 to 1947. *He was also minister for Labour, Commerce, and Industry.(1946).*

Recognising the yeomen services he has rendered to Tamil community, Lord Willingdon Viceroy of india conferred on him in 1934 the title of *Dewan Bahadur* . Considering his philanthropy and services to the church , His Holiness the Pope in 1946, invested on him the Papal Knighthood and made him the knight commander of Sylvester.

In his political career he was always for a compromise on any issue. Sensing the dangers that would emerge in times to come for tamils, he remained abstaining in the voting when the house debated handing over Independence to Sinhalese majority.

He did not agree to the proposition of necessity of five years of continuous stay in Ceylon to merit Citizenship of Ceylon. He was also against the derogatory and humiliating conditions imposed for the certificate to be obtained for facilitating permanent settlement of Tamils in Ceylon. His argument, was being Tamils at next door, they can’t be expected to be glued to Ceylon when ships sailed to anf fro and when families remained in British India. On this score as well as for seeking representations in Donough more Commission he met the Secretary of Colonies,in London.

At times his detractors spread the canard that he spoke for the Tamil Mercantile community, and not for the plantation community of Tamils. This is far from truth. He spoke in support of beleaguered plantation Tamils whenever the estate management inveigled them into Criminal cases of trespass, instead of cases under Labour laws and afforded, to a certain, considerable amelioration to their suffering. He also spoke for schools for them with native language as medium of instruction in the estates when estate establishments were winding them up.

During his 23 years of public and political life, he was elected to serve on many committiees.

He was
1. Member , Port commission.
2. Member , Board of Indian immigration labour.
3. Member, war council,
4. President, Indian Club,
5. Vice president, Ceylon Tamil congress,
6. President, Indian mercantile chamber,
7. Member, Select draft group that merged Ceylon Tamil Congress with Ceylon National congress.

When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Ceylon to bring unity among Indians in Ceylon who were pursuing different policies in different formations,he visited I.X.Pereira’s, Vajira road residence, for dinner and it is said that he got the neighbours ‘compound knocked off to accommodate the crowd to afford dharshan of Pandit Nehru.

After Independence ,he was offered a place in the Ceylon senate. But he declined .

He passed away on 26 th april 1951,when he was 63 years old.

To commemorate his birth centenary, in1988, a stamp was issued,by the postal department Srilanka; and subsequently , a street in Pettah, Colombo was named after him. There is I.X. Pereira Street in Colombo.A photograph of I.X. Pereira adorns the wall of parliament in Sri Jayawardanapura.

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