Malabari hall of Mumbai got the 2020 Cultural and heritage award from UNESCO for SE Asia

Malabari hall, Mumbai 1924

Mumbai in 2020  received the Award of Merit for their attempts to bring back the building to its former glory and their use of community in the restoration of its historic compound respectively. Further,  this award gives a fillip to the cause of women's empowerment that took shape in the early 20th century in Bombay (Mumbai). The 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation were released by UNESCO, Bangkok on 16 December 2020. The Malabari   hall  of Seva sadan  society, a  non-governmental organization   based in Mumbai   was one of the four recipients that year. 

Malabari hall, Mumbai.

Founded by two social activists and philanthropists, Shri Behramji Malabari and Diwan Dayaram Gidumal, the campus provides home, education and skill development to unprivileged girls. Unlike other social organizations, Seva Sadan  paid particular care about the girls  and women  from the lower strata of the society and made them acquire   the needed skill and education to   move upward in a competitive society .  

Women's empowerment which has grained importance in the past one and half decades  had its early roots in the beginning of the 20th century.  The there was  necessity  to equip and allow  women to cross the social barriers and taboos prevailing then and   make life-determining decisions through the different problems in society. they were taught to use their discretionary power to take firm decisions  This would provide them  an  opportunity to redefine gender roles or other such roles, which in turn would give them  confidence and self-determination to pursue set goals with freedom and without any inhibition. .

The factors that determine Women's empowerment  are  01. Their sense  self-worth, 02.  Their fundamental rights to choose choices that suit them.  03 Making available  opportunities and resources and give access. 04. Their ability to chose the right direction in the society  with out compromising on their self-esteem.  05  Ability to have control over their precious lives  at home as well as outside. 06. Determination not to let other control their lives; no overstepping on their freedom and privacy. 

The Seva Sadan acted as a  beacon to put the women then  on the right path in the social cauldron of Mumbai city. The society has been active since 1908, finding reasonable solutions  for their social need and deprivation.

This 100 year old house on the premises od Seva sadan  society  was  designed by Bombay-based KP Davar & Co Architects, and was inaugurated in 1924 by the then Governor Sir Leslie Wilson and Lady  during the Raj.   It is a rare coincidence that this old building was repaired and restored back to old charm  and glory by a woman architect and her associate Kalappa .  The architects' magic touch and toil never failed and this structure got the UNESCO' Asia-pacific award   in 2000.  The initial cost of construction then was INR 88,475. The restoration project was done in  in two phases - the Structural, Civil Repairs and Restoration work was carried out during I Phase and Phase II focused on  interior refurbishment.  Decorative lighting fixtures were done to improve the ambiance inside.  the other work included  external signage redone in steel finish and  the addition of a pelmet to the stage  to house Seva Sadan Society’s logo -  a lotus in brass finish.

For paltering work lime was widely used. As for the roof  work, it was waterproofed and repaired with meticulous care, because leaky roof might spell disaster subsequently. The cracks  in the exterior and interior  building were also taken care of. The external fa├žade painting carried out to match the old design and  style. 

But for the timely financial help from  Jones Day Foundation.  Seva Sadan Society would not have restored the old structure back to old charm.