Genesis and early years of Niwara

Old age is an inevitable stage of life. Its arrival causes great anxiety and apprehension about mental and physical deterioration as well as dependency. But it can be especially difficult for those unfortunate elderly who are left with neither financial support nor family. For the aged suffering from incurable diseases and handicaps, life can be an utter misery.

This was  recognized as a social challenge at the end of 19th century by eminent Indian thinkers and reformers, from Pune - Sardar Kibe, Sardar  Raste, Sardar Natu, Justice M.G.Ranade and Namdar G.K.Gokhale, who came together to find a solution to this problem. They decided to establish a refuge that would provide basic amenities and shelter for the destitute and ailing aged. These leading personalities of Pune approached  the British  Government authorities for a  piece of land for the proposed shelter. Mr W Wart the then Commissioner of Revenue, Southern Division  , allotted  a portion of Land  situated at Thosar Paga near  Mutha river bank for  the “Pune Infirm Asylum” on  8 Feb 1864.

On 9th Aug 1863, a meeting was held at Sardar Kibe’s residence to formalize modalities of fund generation.  Fund raising continued from 1870 to 1903.

Sir David Sasoon generously donated an amount of Rs 50,000 for this noble cause, in  recognition of which, on 22 Sep 1864, the “Pune Infirm Asylum” was renamed as “David Sasoon Infirm Asylum”.  The laying of the foundation stone took place at the hands of the Hon. Governor. This function was attended by many dignitaries. Many individuals from Pune as well as wealthy  businessmen from various parts of the country contributed to Asylum.  His Highness Maharaja Scindia of Gwalior visited the Asylum in person and extended whole hearted support.

During 1870 to 1940, the Local District Collector was honoured as the President of the Asylum. Indian Civil Service (ICS) officers Mr L C Swift, Mr A  H A Simcox, Mr W D Shephard, Mr G Carmichael, Mr W F Hadson were some of these presidents.

Change to leadership

 On 30 Aug 1940, the Government took a decision that District Collectors should be relieved from all social responsibilities, vide Order No. 3942/33. Thereafter on 16 Jan 1942  Shrimant Raje Malojirao Nanasaheb Naik Nimbalkar of Phaltan became the first Indian President. Dr M N Natu and Raobahadur Chimanlal Kisandas were nominated Joint Secretaries. Right since then, all the office bearers have been working in an honorary capacity.

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